Monday, August 22, 2011

Uncle Jim's Funeral

Friday night my sister and I headed Up North to our parents.  Saturday was my uncle's funeral.  After waiting 3 weeks, the time had finally come.  I had mixed emotions.  I was excited to see and spend time with my aunt and two cousins but dreading everything else that came with that.

I did okay throughout the visitation and service.  At S. Michael's Catholic Church, the cemetery is across the street so we all file out of church, crossed the road, walked through the gravel parking lot and down to his spot.  What I saw as we were walking towards the cemetery took my breath away.

I guess I knew that Uncle Jim was in the Navy and very active with the VFW in his hometown in California but I never registered that with having military representation at the burial.  We first passed 5 older retired gentlemen in Military dress with fun rifles at their sides and then further down by his final resting place were two younger guys in fancy formal Military attire.

I have never attending a military funeral before.  I've only seen it in the movies.  I don't want to say it was fun to see them, but it was something I've never experienced before.  It was amazing how silent we all got at the unfolding and refolding of the American flag.  I lost it when one of the soldiers went from being made of stone to having the gentlest eyes and kindest voice when he handed the flag to my aunt.  All i heard was "Ma'am..." but I wish I could have heard everything that he said in her ear.

And then there was the 3 shot gun salute.  That was cool too.  My cousins little boy (Mr. P is 18 months) broke the solemnness by saying "Uh Oh" after the first shot.  It put a small smile on my face.

After an emotionally draining morning, the rest of the day was quiet.  Sunday was more of the same; sitting around and visiting, listening and sharing stories of our everyday lives, playing cards, tossing a football, going for walks around the neighborhood and over to the park "looking for puppies" and eating food left over from the luncheon.

My mom had 5 ice cream buckets full of hot dish, 2 Tupperware tubs of sliced ham, 2 homemade loaves of buttered bread and tons of cookies and bars.  We had trouble finding enough refrigerator space for all of it.

Before everyone left to go back home on Sunday, we took pictures in the backyard.  One was of just the grandkids and great-grandkids (aka everyone under the age of 40) and one of my mom and her siblings and then a big group picture.  We were missing 3 people (an aunt/uncle and one cousin) but it's sad to know every picture from here forward will always be missing Uncle Jim.


Gina said...

A military funeral is very moving. Another funeral that is moving is someone who was either a police officer or fire fighter. I've been to the funeral of a state trooper and wow is all I can say! Always hang on to the memories of your Uncle Jim!

Beth said...

My uncle was a military man too and I agree - while it was a Lutheran funeral and didn't have the rituals I love about a Catholic service (nothing against Lutherans at all by the way, it was still a nice service), the military presence at the cemetary made up for it and it was very moving and very touching. Thinking of you Julie.