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A Burial Service | April 25, 2011

Friday, April 22nd, was the day we took my mother’s ashes to the Florida National Cemetery near Bushnell, FL, for her burial service. Myself, my younger brother, his mother-in-law, his wife, and my two nephews left early to stop at 4B’s restaurant in DeBary – it was an appropriate start to the day, as it was one of my mother’s favourite breakfast stops. We loaded up on delicious fare and then started the approximately 2 hour trip to the west side of the state.

The trip was spent in chit-chat, discussions with the young-uns (learning random facts from the 2011 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records), discussions of weather, federal prisons (my brother is a US Marshal, and we even passed the Coleman Federal complex on the way there – in its four facilities, it houses nearly 7000 inmates!), the movie Rio (my bro took the boys to see it the night before and I will not need to see it as the plot was explained in full, albeit not in precise order – if they lived closer, I’d set up a regular YouTube posting of them reviewing movies and other things, together, it’d be funny as hell), and more.

It was a hot day and we got there an hour before the service (and half an hour before we were to check in), so we went out to the plot, and to see my father’s stone. (My mother reserved a plot next to his when he passed away and we had him buried there in 2003.)

We then went to check in, and shortly thereafter, my cousin Michael (son of my mom’s brother, my Uncle Terry – whom I was named after) and his family (wife and three daughters) arrived. The pastor and our guide from the cemetery staff showed up and led us to the pavilion for the ceremony. There, we were greeted by an Army Honor Guard. They took her ashes from my sister and law, and flag from me, which they carried as they led us into the pavilion.

After we were seated, a bugler played Taps, and then they, very ceremonially unfolded the flag, and then folded it in another fashion. They then presented the flag to me; the soldier spoke to me directly, saying that the flag was presented to the family as a symbol of the respect and honor and privilege that it was to have mom as a member of the US Army, and then he shook hands with each of us offering condolences for our loss. It was all very intense and emotional.

Then, after the Pastor led us through some prayers, the service was complete. We were told she would be put in the plot within a couple hours, so we went to Cracker Barrel (another of my Mom’s favoured places to eat, and also where the family had gone when we buried Dad, so it was very appropriate again) for lunch, then came back to view the plot, as well as find my Uncle Terry’s, as he, too, was buried here (and nearby.)

My mother’s headstone will be engraved and placed in about five weeks – until then, there’s a temporary sign. I like this picture because you can see the shadows of the family standing around it.

My Uncle’s headstone.

It wasn’t a completely sad day – having the five kids there made for a lighter experience, and I think a better one. Mom wouldn’t have wanted us to be all tears, after all – she was very much about enjoying life.


Posted in Family, Special Days

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