Sunday, May 26, 2013

Don't Just Barbecue

     We were reminded in church today by a former U.S. soldier that we don't necessarily say "Happy Memorial Day" on the last Monday of May, but rather, it is a time for remembering those who have served our country and paid the price for our freedom. Tonight I am remembering my father who served in the United States Navy during the Korean War.
     The last Christmas I spent with him (and I didn't know it would be my last at the time), I gave him a gift. The city of Cupertino has a memorial in the park where pavers can be purchased in honor of those who have served in the military. I wanted to, in a way, immortalize my dad and let him know what his service meant and what he meant to our family. So, I surprised him with a paver that had his name, rank, the years he served, and the sentiment, "We love you, Papa" engraved on it. He was a little overwhelmed by the gesture and mentioned what a meaningful gift it was.
     Not a month and a half later, I pulled up to the cemetery and saw his casket draped with an American flag, and I was proud. As part of the ceremony, that flag would be presented to a loved one and the U.S. Navy representatives asked who they should give it to since Mom was no longer with us. My first thought was, "Which sister should I give it to?" I was trying to keep the peace, but in a moment of positive selfishness, I said, "Give it to me."

     The moment came in the ceremony where the Navy men folded the flag and a bugler played the familiar and emotion evoking notes of "Taps." The only thing that could be heard was that bugle and quiet cries, yet it was such a peaceful moment. I had only witnessed these kinds of scenes in movies, but this tribute was for my dad. It was in real time and there was no way to stop the tears. Then the representative walked up to me, handed me the flag and expressed their appreciation on behalf of the President and the United States Navy for my dad's service. Then he saluted.
     This morning in church at they close of a wonderfully moving Memorial Day service, a lone bugler stood up and played "Taps," and I was instantly transported back to a very peaceful moment in a quiet cemetery on a slightly overcast day, and I was grateful. Thank you, Dad, for your service to our country. And thank you to all who have served and especially to those who gave all.

Friday, May 10, 2013



     Marty and I were out of town for four days. Driving back from Sacramento, we were ready to see our kids. They would be in school when we pulled in, so we would have to wait for that bell to ring before we could squeeze them. Max is the first one dismissed, so we waited, counting down the minutes. He was one of the first out of his class and a big smile spread across my face. As soon as he saw us, he ran as fast as his little legs could take him right into my arms. I scooped him up and the tear ducts went to work. I put him down so he could greet his mom and the hugging was long and lingering. Ella was next on our list. I saw her jogging down the hallway, eyes peeled for her parents. Her jog turned into a sprint when she spotted us and she flew into my arms. Again, I passed her on to her mom so the love fest could continue.
     Julia didn't get out until a half hour later, but I couldn't wait. I knew her class was usually milling around the room this time of day doing busy work, so I poked my head in to catch a glimpse of my firstborn. Her back was to me and I paused for a moment, not sure if I should say anything. Some of her classmates saw me and watched with anticipation because I usually try to embarrass her in some way, so they know the drill. Instead, all I said was, "Julia." She turned around and said, "Dad," then she bolted from her desk and jumped on me like she was 3 years old again. I couldn't contain the tears. I had wondered if she was going to be "too cool" to display any kind of emotion when we picked them up, but she proved our strong connection by leaping into my arms in front of her whole class. It was an early Father's Day present, and as I recalled the moment throughout the day, I got choked up. It's always nice to have a little break from the kids, but there's nothing better than the reunion.
     We were all kind of quiet after picking up Julia, just wallowing in the moment, I guess, but as we walked to the car, I uttered, "All is right with the world."