My dad is a World War II veteran and Memorial Day was one he taught us to regard with reverence. His brother served in that war too and never came home. There was no body to bury and his grave is just a marker with his name on it in a National cemetery. My uncle’s boat sank at sea and it is the ocean that cradled and kept his last remains. On Memorial Day growing up, we wore paper poppies on our coats in memory of him as well as the others who have served our country. Even in the 70’s when the Vietnam War was protested in our town, we wore metal bracelets with the name of an MIA soldier on it as well as the day he went missing. My father bought them and I never considered until years later that these missing soldiers tore at the wound my uncle’s death had left in my father’s heart. I think I would have cared for and regarded my bracelet with more reverence if I had given it any thought at all. I was only a girl and wore my bracelet until my wrist turned green. I’m not sure what has happened to it since. Someone’s son lost again only this time in my jewelry box or in a drawer by my bed.
Today Lisa, Rob and I spent the afternoon with my father. I have some old 4×5 film I want to use up so I had out my 1930 Linhof to take portraits. It’s one that I have to wear a black cape on my head to focus the photo with. It really is a rather complicated process using meters and magnifying glasses to focus a photo that looks upside down while you’re composing it. My fingers are very crossed that at least one of them came out well. There are so many elements that can go wrong. My dad turns 90 in a month and I know our years are limited and I want to photograph him now while he is still strong and proud. If he knew this, he would hide from the camera so I make it as casual as possible.
We visited my mother’s grave this afternoon and placed a flag there. My dad had planted pansies underneath her name weeks ago. I told him how much I loved them knowing full well the pained effort it took to plant these flowers on his 89-year-old knees.
I want to wish all of you a wonderful Memorial Day. I know so many of you mourn someone who still holds a place deep in your heart.