As you’ve probably read in the amazing TDY Holiday Gift Guide, the holidays are sometimes difficult for some, and I unfortunately fall in that category. Since I’ve lost both parents, I really rely on my brother, other family members outside my immediate family and my friends for support.
This holiday season my brother and I decided that we were emotionally ready and able to finally bury my parent’s ashes. Until then, they were put away in my storage unit, and then my small apartment for a short while, so we both agreed that it was time to put them in an honorable and proper place.
My father was a retired Naval combat photographer, and thus had the right to be buried in a National Cemetery, along with my mother. For the privacy of my family I won’t disclose which cemetery, but we chose the one we did because my father was first stationed there, and some of his photography is displayed in a museum on base.
Since my brother was 12 when my dad passed away, and 17 when we lost my mom, I felt it was important to wait until he (and I) were both emotionally able to handle this sort of ceremony and be able to enjoy it and say a proper goodbye.
Some people may say “Why the heck did you wait so long?!” Well…the answer is simple–if you haven’t heard it already. We were not ready.
Who is ever really ready to say goodbye? No one. BUT, I am so glad we waited, and had the ceremony on our own schedule.
I sent out beautiful and respectful invitations to everyone that would have liked and expected to be invited, and had over half RSVP and travel many miles to attend. My brother and I were so thankful for those who were able to be there, and understanding of those who weren’t.
In preparations for the memorial service, I had to coordinate several moving parts to make it go off without a hitch. I had to call the cemetery of course, and arrange for a plot — cremated remains can either be placed in a mausoleum or in the ground. I also had to call the Navy — which only lets you schedule 10 days before the service — talk about nerve wracking! Thankfully, everything fell into place, and the Navy came and folded my father’s American Flag, and they played “Taps” on a trumpet, and fired rifles in his honor.
I was really proud of myself for handling the emotions of the day, but the one moment that made the tears fall was when the Naval officer got down on one knee in front of my brother to present the flag, and said “On behalf of the President of the United States, we thank you for your parent’s service.”
Hand me the tissue box please.
What a powerful and beautiful moment for me and my family to witness. Even though my father was the one who served, my mother also served those 20 years in her own way. Military life in combat is not easy, and my parents would have been so proud and honored to be buried in such a beautiful place.