Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Miss My Dad

As part of my leaving, I decided to venture out today and visit my dad's gravesite at Riverside Cemetery. Since the gates are kept closed, I had called to make an appointment. I stopped at the caretaker's (Polly) house to pick up the map, and we ended up talking for an hour. She was wonderful. Fourth generation in the cemetery business, and in this incredible victorian house with amazing antiques.

She told me that there was still a $100 balance due - his gravesite was not yet paid for. I felt sick. And embarrased. I wrote her a check immediately and thanked her for not charging 37 years worth of interest. . . . There is also no gravestone. She gave me the application for the Veteran's Administration so I could have a marker made free-of-charge. The $100 fee to set it in place isn't due until the marker arrives at her office. It can take a year to get it.

So, I made my way through the tiny winding roads. Stopped to take some photos of a beautiful larger-than-life angel on someone's gravestone, and finally found the location of my dad. I knew there was no stone or marker, but Polly did tell me there was a boulder marking the site where he is, plus two others next to him that have been reserved, and she gave me the names on the boulders on either side of him on the map. It is a beautiful location on the top of a hill overlooking the Blackstone River. I remember that we rode in a huge black limo. It was a military funeral. Taps was played, the flag was folded (which my mother doesn't seem to have) and there were gun shots. I hadn't been back to his grave in 37 years because I couldn't find it and I was never in town long enough to connect with the cemetery folks.

So, how on earth could my mother in good conscience all these years leave that bill unpaid??? I am certain there is no good answer to that question. We (my sisters and I) understood that she was a grieving single mom and probably couldn't afford the gravestone. It never occured to us that we could have had it made. I guess we though it was something sacred she should do out of respect for him. That always made me sad. And today, finding out that his grave wasn't paid for in full makes me even sadder. But I paid it and I feel extraordinary about that. I love it when the pathway is so clear to "do the right thing." Anyway, it's done. Another check box on my "things to take care of in life" list filled in.

P.S. I wanted to bring something to put on his grave. I couldn't buy anything, so I left my Superman standing up in a little hole in the ice. My dad was superman to me, so this is fitting.