I did a blog about the immediate aftermath of my dad's death/passing, and I've done blogs since about the moments that show up where I miss him deeply.
So the actual one year anniversary comes around and I find myself without any new emotions to attach to the date. My emotions, when they show up, rarely are on a logical calendar (the exception being frustration, which I don't think is an emotion, but runs alongside most of my days like my own personal racetrack rabbit) , so I wouldn't be surprised if we get to some random Arbor Day calendar day and WHAM, I'm berefit.
As it happened, circumstances put me back in Huntsville last weekend for a brief visit. And I suggested to Mom, the Former Phone Harpy That Needs A New Nickname that we should visit Dad's gravesite, as I hadn't seen the headstone yet.
So we drive to Maple Hill Cemetery, established in 1822, home to 5 former governors, 5 former United State senators, something like 80,000 souls, and now my dad.
My parents, ever the pragmatic ones, bought the plot way back in the 1980s, when the cemetery sales rep did a sweep and practically signed up the entire block. You might think that's ghoulish, and yet, depending on the website you're on, the cemetery's sold out, or not sold out, but only has room for cremation. So who's laughing now, right?
I remember the weather last year as being somewhat grey. There were bursts of color here and there, but I remember it being overall damp and muted.
But this year was crisp. Crisp and glorious. We're driving through the cemetery with its narrow roads, past history and headstones and memories.
If you go to grade school in Huntsville, you are guaranteed at least one or two class field trips where you traipse through the cemetery and make charcoal rubbings of headstones, marveling between what's showing up on your paper, your pitch black fingers that you better not rub on your clothes or your mom's gonna be MAD, and the fact that you're standing on someone's grave in broad daylight and it's totally cool.
Mom knew the general area where Dad's grave is, so we parked, and went hunting, offering apologies to the graves we were passing by, or accidentally stepping on.
And I finally found it. It's a little sparse with the grass, which is why I think it's red flagged. "We paid for the upkeep," Mom groused, and I assured her that I think they're getting to it.
But Dad's current scraggly site (that I am sure they're going to get to soon) aside, my GOD. This is the prettiest place in the world to be buried. I mean, just look at this view:
Picture perfect blue sky. White fluffy clouds. Glorious fall colors, the likes of which the trees in Los Angeles never turn. Are you kidding me?
When it's my time to finally bid adieu and finally join God on the couch with TV and tequila, I'm getting cremated and somebody's gonna throw my ashes in the Pacific ocean at sunset (and thank you in advance to whoever has to do that. I solemnly vow that I will do my best to somehow reach through the afterlife to make that particular day easy for you.)
But if you prefer to be buried, Maple Hill truly is a wonder. As a family friend mentioned later that night at a swanky soiree, local legend has it that there was a prominent businessman who visited Huntsville to determine whether he should move his business to town. He took one look at the cemetery and made up his mind for pro-Huntsville, as "anyone who takes care of their dead like this, must take care of their people."
I'm sure that statement could be debated a million different ways. But then I look at this picture... and I don't care.
I'm not sure that Dad would've cared either. He's currently sitting on the couch with God with his drink of choice (Bloody Mary or Black Velvet Whiskey), watching me, my mom and my sister continue through life. He's got opinions, sure he does. But he's not in pain. He's happy. And he's laughing at the trees and their colors.
And I am happy that he's happy.