This Memorial Weekend

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Memorial Day this year has a special poignancy for me, with the departure of my father-in-law on May 7.  We have traded Father’s Day, my in-laws’ wedding anniversary and his birthday for this special day of remembrance.  I am grateful for every year he was within earshot, a phone call away or a shoulder to lean on- though never to cry on.  Now, he gets to see us from a different realm, a more distinct vantage point.

Memorial Day has somewhat gone the way of other “Holidays” in America.  We are bombarded with offers we “can’t refuse”, many are expected to work through the weekend and others just seek a chance to unwind, in their usual manner.  There is nothing wrong with relaxation.  We all need it.

It has been gratifying, though, that in communities both large and small, people seem to be returning to things that matter most during this weekend of reflection.  Yesterday, I went to the Phoenix area a day earlier than I had planned.  The young grandson of a long-time friend had died, in a tragic accident, the weekend before, and yesterday was his memorial service.  Such a vibrant, vital child was now with the Holy People and several hundred people came from all over Metro Phoenix, and beyond, to show their love.

The Christian pastor said it well- We know not why such an early death happens to a young child, but as a gardener chooses a variety of flowers for his bouquet, so does the Heavenly Father choose those of different ages as His angels.  We prayed, hugged one another, cried and laughed at remembrance of this beautiful child’s antics.  In the end, after a satisfying meal, nearly a hundred balloons were released into the air, in his honour.    The loss of a child is always jarring, horrifying, yet the send-off for a soul can be magnificent, and this was so.

I drove off, after the service, and paid private respects at Penny’s gravesite, and at nearby tombs of two other Baha’is:  Kenneth Jeffers, and the little boy’s great-grandfather, Bill Karnes.  Three undaunted teachers of our Faith, laid to rest in a triangle within several hundred yards of one another, and now they are circling around us all, in the spiritual realm.  The Messengers of God promise us this and it seems so, every day as I arise and every night as I get ready for sleep.

Today, I focused more on service close to home, pulling a dead tree branch back from its overhang over our north wall, where it jutted into our neighbour’s parking lot.  So, one less eyesore and safety hazard is in the way of honest people trying to earn a living. I made some progress on clearing brush and weeds along the wall and in front of the wooden sheds.  More needs to be done tomorrow afternoon, once Memorial Day itself has been observed at our Citizens’ Cemetery and in front of the VA Hospital, and I have visited some hospitalized patients there.

Time is now getting short, before I head off to what amounts to a memorial month- World War anniversaries in France and Belgium, a visit to my paternal ancestral city of Rouen, France and walkabouts in cities large and small in Germany and Luxembourg, as well as the aforementioned countries.  Part of my mind and heart will be watching what goes on here in Arizona, as the fire season continues to play out, in Flagstaff, Sedona and other towns.  My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in Isla Vista, near Santa Barbara and to those dealing with extended flood emergencies in the Danube Basin.  I will have more to say about the UC shootings tomorrow.  Be safe, my friends and readers.