How can a person say “Happy” Memorial Day when the memories can be so bittersweet? For some of us the memory is still quite raw. My family lost our Veteran just last August.
He had been a quadriplegic since his accident in 1974 I believe. May have been 1973. I was there when we got the call. I was there a bit later when he came home. I have no photo to share of him strapped into a wheelchair, a Stryker frame drilled into his skull, and that also strapped to the wheelchair. He was jaundiced quite badly, emaciated. His neck and every bone downward had been broken. His spinal cord had been mostly severed. Yet he was determined to walk. And he did!
It wasn’t until several years later that I married him. We had an unusual life but good all the same. 12 years later, though, I was frustrated and stupid, and took our daughter and handed him a divorce. Even so, we remained friends. He still loved me. Truth be told, I still loved him too. He was a constant part of our lives for the next 17 years. We had talked to length and I was helping him to try and get a handicap equipped house. I was once again going to be his personal care giver. After all those years, though, our government resources had failed him. He was struggling, looking quite emaciated once again. And then He got to celebrate the second greatest thing to ever happen in his life. (The birth of our daughter was the first 🙂 Our daughter had her first baby, our very first grandchild!
One month later, shortly after coming to visit, he was killed, along with two other people in the other car that hit him head on.
Those memories of that day are ones that EVERY lover of veterans lost will know quite well. I can scarce share even now.
The salutes from the local VFW chapter touched me deeply. He was so proud to have been a Soldier.
Then the tears of seeing his Urn at the grave sight. I never wanted to steal something and run as badly as I did at this moment.
The twenty one gun salute. There were only 7 men available for this service so they fired 3 times each together. It was loud and amazing all at the same time. I was in a dream.
And then our daughter was handed the flag that stood beside him throughout the funeral. Our son-in-law and His mother sit beside, with his mother holding our grandchild. His favorite hat lay in our girl’s lap. Some of His veteran friends can be seen standing at ease in the background. The Marine with the beard was to die just nine months later. The last thing the friend told his wife was that he was going to go see our Veteran. 😥
I personally took these photos. If they are blurred it is because they are seen through tears.
I am crying still.
Please, remember your Veteran this Memorial Day.