Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New England in the Fall

My grandpa died in 2007 and my grandma in 2009. All my life they lived in Connecticut, so they were the "long distance" grandparents (the distance was especially "long" relative to my other set of grandparents who lived right in our house with us for much of my growing up years). I loved when they would come to visit or when we would head east to see them.

The adorable pair ::

The entire family, nineteen sixty-something ::

With my grandparents a week or so after our wedding in 1996 ::

Before my grandparents died, they had decided to donate their bodies to science for medical research. So we had memorial services at the times of their death, but did not have bodies or ashes for them, so there was no burial. Fast forward a bit and our family (the funeral home, actually) got their remains back and started planning the service at the cemetery. My grandpa was in WWII, so he was eligible to be buried in a military cemetery. We considered Arlington National Cemetery (he was eligible to be buried there), but decided on the local state military cemetery in Connecticut. So on a beautiful fall morning a small group of us gathered at State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown, Connecticut to honor my grandparents. It was such a beautiful and meaningful ceremony; I am so grateful that I was able to be there! It was a full on military ceremony. I didn't expect it to be so emotional, especially considering the years that had passed since their deaths. There were three veterans that took part in the ceremony and two current military. The elderly vets shot off their guns and one played taps (Kirby has played taps many a time at a military funeral and Jacob has too, so that is especially meaningful to me.) A lone bugle playing slowly over hundreds of gravestones is pretty powerful! Then the two current soldiers (one man and one woman) meticulously unfolded and refolded the flag and presented it to my dad with these words "On behalf of the president of the United State, the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service." The soldier was kneeling and looking my dad (who was seated on a chair) right in the eye. Face to face, just a few inches between them. I was not prepared for how moving and powerful that was going to be.

Entry of the cemetery ::

The soldiers who did the flag ceremony ::

5 out of the 8 grandkids ::

My dad and 3 of his siblings (there were 6 kids in his family) ::

Me holding the flag after the service ::

Following the service we hopped in the car (after a lunch together with the family) and drove to Cape Cod to stay that night with my aunt and uncle. They own an Inn on the Cape where we stayed on our honeymoon. This was my first time back in over 19 years. I enjoyed a beautiful sunrise walk on the beach the next morning complete with breaking ocean waves, seals in the water just off shore,  and seagulls. Then we drove to Boston to fly home. It was a short visit, but I was so glad I was there. To catch up a bit with family. To honor my grandparents. To spend kid-free time with my mom and dad. To make a few Dunkin' Donuts stops . . . it was a wonderful trip!

Sunrise on Nauset Beach ::

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