Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering on Memorial Day

He's fun-loving and, truth be told, a little ornery. He loves to make people laugh, and he only stops moving when he is sleeping. He's our little Joey---the baby. He's also our little memorial. A strange word to describe a small person who has lived in our household for less than two years. The dictionary describes memorial as "preserving the memory of a person or thing," 

When we were trying to decide on a name for yet another boy joining our family, we pieced together memories of those gone from us and gave our youngest the solemn duty of calling us to remember three special people from our history every time we called his name. Two of them served our country so it is fitting to share their stories on Memorial Day. One of them never got a chance to serve, yet he fought his own battles and forged freedoms of a different kind. 


Family albums full of dark hair. I study the pictures and try to see glimpses of my husband's heritage. "He looks so much like my brother," my mother-in-love tells me. I fail to see my husband's blond head mirrored in the photos. At my quizzical glance, she says, "You didn't meet my brother that fought in the war." She unwraps the story of the young man due home in a few weeks, and how he stayed behind to work while his buddies left to grab a cup of coffee. Then of the explosion that shattered more than the life of a young man. She, a young girl yet, watching her mama's grief as her empty arms grasped a folded flag instead of her boy home and safe. We can wonder what might have been, but it is futile. So, we remember.

I study my own mama's album. Blond hair again---so white blond it's laughable when looking at the dark hair of my grandparents and my own mother. "You didn't meet my brother, "she tells me. "I barely remember him myself." She unwraps another story about a nine-year-old boy we remember as "Joey".  How he walked the streets and visited the teacher's desk, asking, "Can I tell you about my Jesus?" The straining of a mama to save her little boy from the fire raging in his little play house and the scarring of hearts as the pain burned for years after. The tears of a teacher who wouldn't hear of Jesus from the student in front of her desk but whispered His name as she stood in front of a small closed box at the funeral parlor. Again, we could wonder what might have been, but all we can really do is remember

I lean down to gaze into the eyes that don't really see me. The white blond hair of his son's photos fades to silver white on his own head. He is nearing ninety as I near his chair. "Hi, Grandpa!" He doesn't remember. Not me, his first grandchild or my mama, his first and only daughter. He no longer recalls his wife of over 50 years or the years of service he traded for our freedom. I grasp his hand....still tangible. As are my memories...memories of what has been. The ones I'll tell my little Joey about the men he is named for. So that he will remember, too.

Who are you remembering this Memorial Day?

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