Memorial day is about honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. Service runs deep in my family. I am very proud to come from a family that has answered the call to serve and protect our nation both at home and abroad. Honoring the sacrifice is a tradition in my family for almost 70 years.
Today I went to the cemetery.
Of course you did, you say. It's what my business is all about. Today was different. Today I went to grieve the loss of someone who was family, someone I never met. I needed to cry. I needed to grieve. I needed to do something. Let me back up.
On Monday, while scrolling through the Detroit Free Press, I ran across a headline about a wife who took her own life just two weeks following the horrific murder of her husband. I clicked on it not knowing what I would soon discover. The city was familiar, the names were familiar, the street where they lived was familiar. My very first customer and her husband were this story. How could this be? Was I reading this right? I searched other articles. Patti and Dave.
I met Patti in the spring of 2012. She called me asking about my grave site care. She lived in Texas. Her parents buried here in Michigan. Would I care for their site for her. Caring for her parents graves was very important to her. "I was so distraught when I saw my parent's grave site after visiting in June. It looked abandoned as if no one cared. But I did care, a lot." Cleaning and planting her parents site, I sent her pictures after that visit and each visit after that. "I am so happy. I cried when I looked at the pictures."
Her Dad, a SSGT in the Marine Corp during WW2 and Korea. Her mother loved to garden. "My mom loved flowers, so I'm so glad that she has all those flowers around her." The hosta behind their head stone is from her mother's garden. Most of our communications centered around the graves. But we also shared bits of our lives. I would tell her about our trips planned to Texas to visit family. She spoke of their love for the Detroit Lions. "Dave and I have remained fans even though we have lived in Texas for over 20 years. We live for football season."
Why do I write this. Today I took time to grieve. To care for her parents grave, raking leaves and leaving a bouquet of flower in Patti's memory. Sad we were never able to meet in person. She and her parents are family, my cemetery family. And in 2 weeks, I will place the grave blankets she has had me place the last 3 winters. And in the spring, I will see to it that Buster and Doris are cared for, as I have for the past 4 years. It is an honor to care for them and help keep her memory alive.
Attended a funeral today of a young Marine, 23 and an only child. A young man who I did not know. A family I do not know. He lost his life on the battlefield. Not a battle on the soil of another country but a battle of the mind. We send these young kids to war with all the military training we can give them. We teach them about duty, honor and strength. They proudly wear their uniforms as they serve and sacrifice for our country. But off the battle field, in the quiet of the night in the depth of their minds, the demons haunt them. How do you prepare a kid for that? Out of harms way, safe on the precious soil of the United States, no harm should come to them, but it does more often than we know. I went to his funeral today not only to pay respect to this young hero and his family, but to support my dear friend who is a marine mom with a son currently deployed. We see it in the news, the paper, the internet. Story after story of these fallen heroes. But today for me it was real. The Patriot Guard stood tall as we entered the church, Marines in uniform, a flag draped coffin. The tears. The muffled sobs of a mother burying her only son. The respect shown this young man and family. And only questions remain. Why?