Goodbyes are always difficult for families
Isabel Torrey shares a personal story of her granddaughter's final resting place
With Memorial Day coming up, I am reminded of our family giving my granddaughter her final goodbye recently.
Her resting site is a niche in a Portland cemetery's marble wall that overlooks a grassy slope on the citys south skirts; the surrounding valley reminds me of a tablecloth edged with a mottled-green, crocheted fringe of trees. Muted sounds while Mount Hood, wearing her distinctive white veil, silently but solemnly watched in the distance.
But seven of us (joined by a bird chorus, seemingly there to supply liturgical support) were above all that while we, misty-eyed, reverently placed a gold, square box containing Karens cremains into a niche in a marble wall.
Following a time of contemplative silence, we climbed into our respective cars to wind the writhing exit road down the mountain. Nearby a groundskeeper - wearing earbuds (probably beaming raucous music) - threaded a blatting, green behemoth John Deere tractor among the stones, manicuring the area.
As we drove away, an odd image surfaced when I unexpectedly recalled the dejected look a long-ago, beloved terrier used to give us when she realized she couldnt come along.
A mental alarm shouted: We cant go off and leave Karen behind all alone! But immediately I reminded myself, Thats a silly thought - shes gone.
Than another odd mental image, again from prior years when my husband and I had made a month-long cruise of South Pacific islands. While touring several villages, I noticed colored glass bottles imbedded, upside-down, around mounds of soil in front yards of most homes.
What are those? Id asked our native guide.
Theyre family graves.
Ewww, gross, I told myself.
Doubtless the guide sensed my negativity, because he quickly added, We like having our loved ones close by - even if theyre gone. Im comforted in knowing thats where Ill be someday too.
As we continued driving home from Karens rites, I concluded: That concept makes sense. Those islanders arent the uneducated people I once considered them.
I was thinking of that island idea with new understanding when a raucous blat reminded us the light had turned green. Startled out of memory lane, my first reaction was annoyance: Hey, Big Bully! Cant you give us a little slack before you park on your horn?
But then I realized the driver behind us had no idea wed just buried my beloved 30-year-old granddaughter. It took effort to turn, nod and give an apologetic wave.
We quickly drove on - back into the stark reality of our loved ones absence.
May I suggest during this Memorial Day time that you please join me in determining not to visibly display exasperation at a dawdling vehicle ahead? That driver might also be fighting thoughts of having just left a loved one behind.
©2016 Isabel Torrey, who is a King City resident.