Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catching Up

My computer has been off-line since Tuesday night, and I’ve been feeling utterly cut off from the world. However, as you see, a new connection has been established and it’s now time to catch up. Please forgive any unanswered e-mails or questions. (My phone was briefly dead, as well!)

Tuesday night, my darling Sydney came to visit, together with her mother, my daughter, and Jeff, my son-in-law.

Sydney, very tired, forcing a smile

Wednesday, we took Sydney to the I-Max theater. The first scene up was of the stars, all zipping past us. “Mommy, where are we going?” Sydney asked. Nowhere, dear, it’s just a movie.

Then came the swirling, psychedelic tunnel you appear to be streaking through at enormous speed. ”Mommy, are we going on a trip? I’m scared!”

Nothing to be scared about, honey; it’s just a movie. We are still sitting right here, going nowhere. It’s just a movie.

Then the movie started. “Mommy, are we inside the movie?” It certainly seemed so, with the surround sound and the images filling up our whole field of vision.

Thirty minutes into the film, Sydney fell asleep. Still, taking her was such fun! I can hardly wait to take my other three grandchildren to their first I-Max film!

Thursday, exactly two months after Dad’s memorial service, we buried his ashes at Arlington National Cemetery in one of those ceremonies you see on television. It was quite short, but very dignified. There were riders on black horses to escort us to the gravesite, and there was the riderless horse. The box containing the ashes rode in a caisson, inside a casket with a door built into it for the purpose. There were prayers by the ministers of my parents’ congregation, followed by a bugler playing Taps. There was a 21-gun salute, but not the kind with cannon; if the deceased was not a head of state or roughly equivalent, seven men fire three volleys with rifles. Their shots are so perfectly synchronized that each volley sounds like a single shot. The disconcerting thing was that, although they were firing blanks of course, they were aiming straight at us! The band played two stanzas of “God Bless America,” with a drum roll in between, and then the honor guard folded up the flag they had been holding over the ashes, and presented it to Mom.

It was all mercifully short, the ceremony itself taking, I estimate, 15 minutes.

Afterward, we went to the Officers’ Club at Fort Myer for a meal, about 45 people. It was especially good to see some of the people we here on the East Coast don’t get to see as often as we’d like. Wendy came with her husband, Roy. Three of her four daughters were there, too. Grace is hugely pregnant, and Halley came with her son, Jacob, 4. Jacob and Sydney enjoyed a reunion very much anticipated by both of them. Uncle Dick came, too, Dad’s older brother, who looks so much like him it’s almost spooky.

The biggest shock of the evening, for me, came while I was speaking with him. Someone had asked about his age, compared with Dad’s. He’s 18 months older, nearly 90, as he pointed out; and their sister Pat is 18 months younger than Dad. “And then something happened,” I said.

“What do you mean?” Uncle Dick asked.

“You all came so quickly, one after the other, bam, bam, bam – and then, suddenly, no more children.”

“Actually, that’s not the case,” said my uncle.


“Ma had two more babies, a girl and a boy, but they both died right after they were born.”

My head is still swimming from that one. To think Dad had two siblings I never knew about, whose names I don’t even know! Uncle Dick doesn’t have many details, either; his parents were quite uncommunicative about such things. I will have many questions for him and Aunt Pat in the coming days.

From Left to Right (Top Row): Wendy's first daughter, Tisho, with her husband, Stuart; Demetrios; my brother, Mike; Roy and my sister Wendy; Yours Truly, holding Sydney; pregnant Grace, Wendy's second daughter, with her husband, Aaron; (Seated) Jeff and Erin, my daughter (Sydney's parents); Mom; Uncle Dick; Wendy's fourth daughter, Halley, holding her son, Jacob

Special thanks to Tisho for these photos and more.

We came home very tired and today (Saturday) I appear to have caught Erin's sore throat and cough. I've been in bed all morning.