On Thursday morning under gray skies and splashed with a sprinkle or two, the remains of my beloved step mother of almost 30 years, Pauline, were interred at Willamette National Veteran’s Cemetery. One day my father will rest beside her after a Marine color guard performs its ceremony and a report of a rifle volley resounds across the grounds.
I was struck by the somber beauty of the cemetery, dotted with Oregon oaks and all manner of conifers. I was struck by a crew cutting up a downed maple and a lone man with a shovel digging a grave. I didn’t think people still dug graves with shovels and for some reason it brought me comfort.
My family gathered in front of the niche and members placed treasured items inside. I left a sea shell, others left photographs, my dad left his wedding ring.
As we stood together and grieved, my mind turned to the remarkable woman who was my step mother and the three incredible children she raised, the incredible help offered me over the years, and the incredible influence she had on my father. It was her love and resilience and patience with him that marked the turning point in making him a great man. I will forever be in her debt.
My father and I will continue her tremendous generosity toward a number of charities. She particularly loved supporting those organizations that served the homeless. My father and I will continue to maintain the wonderful back yard she created, a true oasis in the city that attracts all manner of wildlife. I will work hard to maintain my father’s body and spirit and continue to laugh when he corrects my grammar. Pauline would love that, as she would want me to begin every weekday morning with my father by watching Perry Mason.
As a side note: This was the first funeral/graveside/interment service of my life.