On Monday, my family stopped at FortCusterNationalCemetery, where one of my Grandfathers is buried. It was a cold, rainy day, and I knew none of the kids were looking forward to getting out of the car. To their credit, however, not one expressed their displeasure of the upcoming trek through wet grass. This was our second visit to the cemetery, the first being a year ago this weekend, for my Grandfather’s funeral.
We looked up his location (the service was in a shelter, not at the actual gravesite), and drove around until we found the correct section. We exited the car, and I led the group, holding my five year-old’s hand. He’s a pretty fast walker, and I said the grave marker numbers out loud, as we walked toward the back, looking for the right row. I found it, turned inward, and walked past only a few before I saw Grandpa’s name.
As I stood there, my eyes began to water. I thought of the sacrifices both of my Grandfathers had made, defending this country in the same war. This particular grandfather never spoke to me of his service, and really spoke very little to any family member about it. I never asked – maybe I should have – but I thought he was one of many who left to fight a war, to defend freedom, and came back to his old life. The job was complete, and he wanted to move forward, not reliving the memories of war.
As I reminded my son of last year’s funeral (he remembers everything), he acknowledged that he remembered the event. I explained that while his body was in the box, his soul was in Heaven. He interrupted whatever I had said, and asked if we could pick up the “statue” (the grave marker) and see the wood box. As I paused for a moment, trying to formulate an answer, he added that he’d like to open it and see the body and what had happened to it. Then he said hurriedly, “I know I know, I can’t because then I would go to JAIL.”
Seemed like a good answer to me. I suppressed a smile and simply said, “Yes.”
On that somber day, at least one other couple got a good chuckle from the comments of a morbidly curious pre-schooler. I know my grandfather would have gotten a good laugh out of it.