|It was Veterans Day, I felt it weighing down my heart and was ready to burst into tears at the drop of a hat. I had to bring flowers to Dad’s grave. The day before marked exactly 6 months since he passed away on the Montana ridge line. I knew it was going to be a bad day, I had felt the tears gearing up deep in my chest since I woke up that morning. I shoved them down and made coffee as James had to work and I had the day off. It was definitely going to be a bad day.|
|Daddy was a Marine, Vietnam Veteran and a First Sargent in the National Guard. Our family WAS Military. He was the now dying breed of the “Good Ol’ Boys,” Men of Honor and The Family Provider. He made damn sure that we were raised to respect our troops and elders. He INSTILLED in us that respect and I am grateful for him raising us kids in the manner that he did. With that said, that morning I knew only three things: I had to visit Dad, I couldn’t go alone, and it was going to be a bad day.|
|I resumed my day off that morning with taking care of my sick kids, cleaning the house and trying not to think until every room was spotless. All done in vain for all I could do was think, be sad, angry and bitter. Finally when I couldn’t take anymore, I texted my sister “I am going to visit Dad’s grave…” deep breath. I had that overwhelming grief wash over me as I was typing “Grave.” The reality of it, the finality of it, the sadness. Daddy is gone, he’s not even in the cemetery, that wasn’t my Pop. Hes just not here anymore. I hear Dad’s famous words “Suck it up, Cupcake. You’re not a sissy, you can do this,” wipe my tears, breathe again, and finish it with ” Will you come with me?” My loving sister replies instantly, “Yes, I’ll be there. What time?” And we’re off.|
|I went to pick out flowers at Fred Meyer and found hydrangeas exactly like the ones he planted at the ranch. Dad loved flowers, planting them abundantly all around the ranch for my Mom. He loved her with all of his soul, wholeheartedly that he built her a rose garden under white terraces on their 5 acres. The hydrangeas were perfect. I picked my sister up and we made our way to the cemetery. It was rainy and misty up there, almost like something out of a movie. I envisioned us in black and white or a dull sepia color amongst the graves, no color, just death and dull… it was that surreal. We stood at Dad’s grave under the birch tree overlooking the town, the birch tree was exactly like the one dad planted in our front yard of the Clarey house growing up. I looked at it longingly, remembering the happiness spent around the Clarey house birch tree, smack dab in the middle of the front lawn. What a difference between the two… there’s the bitterness again. I swallow it down and hug my sister. We cleared off the headstone as the autumn leaves were fully free of their branched cages leaving the tree’s skeletal frames. Thus adding to the ugliness of the surroundings.I don’t recall how long we were up there, only the silence setting in at first, then the memories, then the tears and then the laughter through the tears. My beautiful sister ended our visit with prayer. Prayers for our Mom, our family, prayers to get us through our lives without Dad in his human form. My bad day turned into bittersweet as I had gotten through it with my sister.
I am blessed because even though my Pop is gone and not of this world any longer, but in Heaven, I have pieces of him that are still alive and well in my sisters and my brother. In fact the other day my brother walked in my door, a cup of coffee in his hand, and he looked like the spitting image of my Dad. It warmed my heart and reminded me that Dad will show through when he needs to. He raised us to stick together and that’s exactly what we’re doing. “At least we’re all together,” As Mom would chime in the bad times. And we are.
Shonna told me up on the hill “It’s been a shitty year, sis, but next year is going to be a good one.” She is right. I know I can speak for everyone in my family, this has been the worst year in our entire lives. It will continue to be the worst year of our lives through the holidays until this horrible year is over. But next year? Next year will be the healing year, it will be the new beginnings year, our new memories year. Why do I say that? Because we have my Dad as our Guardian Angel and he’s already worked wonders in our lives. For instance, I am engaged to Dad’s favorite guy… ever. He loved James and always told me that I needed a cowboy in my life. And things between us have never been better. There’s Dad shining through again and blessing me with what he always wanted for me and my boys: a good man, an honorable man, a Godly man. He is all of those things and I know Pop is smiling down on us as we work through the beginning of our journey together.
We actually had our engagement photos done this past weekend and in one picture(the one with me in James’ cowboy hat) You’ll see a lot of my Dad peeking through and when my sister saw that photo, she commented on it saying “You finally got the happiness you deserve.” Yep, I sure did. Thanks Pop.