It’s just a simple piece of cloth folded into a triangle. And yet, as I watched the representatives from the military unfold the American flag, it was so much more than a piece of cloth. Unfolded, held firmly, crisply, by its four corners and tilted it so we could see the stars and stripes. Our flag, held up in honor and memory of one who had served in the Army during the Korean conflict.
You may remember me telling you that Ed’s dad died at the end of September. We had a memorial service a few days later, but his ashes weren’t ready yet. Today, we buried my father-in-law next to his wife, right where he wanted to be.
As I drove him to one of his radiation treatments, we talked about his wife, Virginia. He said he was going to ask her, when he saw her in heaven, if they had a good marriage. I told him that she would say yes. She was a wonderful mother-in-law, and I always wished I had the chance to know her more.
The service at the graveside was short. There were tears and also smiles. We felt we had already said goodbye to a good man, and yet we were honoring him again today for serving his country.
That simple piece of cloth was folded up again, precisely, into a neat triangle. It was presented to my sister-in-law with words acknowledging her father’s service to our country.
…check on my children when they are sleeping. It used to be that I had to creep quietly into my little girls’ rooms at night to check on them before I could go to bed. If I forgot, I would lie in bed and worry about them until I got out of bed, quietly tip-toed into their rooms, and made sure they were still breathing.
Now that Lily and Emmy are older, I don’t check on them as often as I used to. But tonight, Emmy was coughing a lot, so I checked on her to make sure she had fallen asleep and was resting well. I also checked on Lily, because I can’t check on one daughter without checking on the other. Lily, however, now that she is older, has more trouble falling asleep and said, “What?” when I crept by her bed. “I’m just checking on you,” I said. She is used to me, and barely opened her eyes.
How old will they have to be for me to stop checking on them? I suppose I’ll always want to, although when they are teenagers they might not want me to come into their rooms. My mom used to say that she was the happiest when all four of us children were under her roof, even when we were adults. I was 40 when she died, and she still wanted all four of us to be with her.
Thanksgiving week is a difficult week for us. Mom died early on Monday morning, November 23, and we had to wait until after Thanksgiving to have her funeral. A couple of church families provided our Thanksgiving dinner that year. We were so grateful to them. We didn’t have the energy or the motivation to prepare a turkey…or mashed potatoes, or anything else!
I am now closer to 50 than to 40 years old. Sometimes I still…miss my mother. I suppose I always will.