A poinant farewell

Last week Fred and I had the honor of attending a funeral. The father of our friend died suddenly, without any warning, on Halloween.† It was a shock to all.† We are so fond of our friend Chris, we wanted to be at the funeral simply to show him our support.

As it turned out, the funeral was a catalyst for reflection.† The service was truly a celebration of his father's life, with a slide show and cool jazz music.† But what touched me most was the Air Force honors.† Simple.† Silent except for taps.† Astounding in its grace.† (Listen here.) When the two uniformed men performed the folding of the flag, I marveled at each gloved snap-fold of the starred, striped fabric, completed in practiced perfection.

I was struck by the ways we remember - sight (delightful family photos in a slide show), prayer (Chris' dad was a beloved, active church member), sound (soft jazz playing in the background for much of the service and also piano/voice solos), tactile (memorabilia of his life including cameras, a metalwork bike, and more artfully arranged on a 10 ft. table), and food (shared by family and friends after the service in the church hall).

Most of all, I was touched by the respect accorded Chris' father by the militiamen, who in all probability, had never met the man.† But their complete attention, for the time they performed the Air Force military rights, was on their deceased comrade in arms.

Just days later the massacre at Fort Hood shattered the day.† And I could not help but think of taps ... and the respectful silent nods that would be paid those who fell there, too.

As human beings we can be so mindful ... and mindless as well.† No answers here.† Just more thinking and determination to be certain I accord due honor and affection to those around me still breathing.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and I will be listening for the bell here in Loveland ... and remembering.

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