American flag

It is Memorial Day weekend and on Saturday morning I attended the funeral of the father of a friend.  I never met Mr. C.
After attending his funeral I know these things:
He was 80 years old.
He was a Navy veteran of the Korean War.  
He was a husband of 51 years, the father of 5 children and the grandfather of 12.
He attended 8 am mass everyday, sitting in the 10th pew from the back, left hand side.
He prayed for his family.  Everyday.
He was a devoted family man.  Finding joy in the lives of his children and their families.
His family surrounded him as he departed this life.  They were praying with him and over him as he exited this world and entered the gates of heaven.
Real bagpipes were played.  They rang out Amazing Grace, as only bagpipes can do.
And I cried.
Two Navy sailors, unfolded and displayed a large American Flag.  Taps was played. They re-folded the flag and presented it to Mrs. C and the family.
And I cried.
The priest ask the family to release Mr. C.  To let him go.  
And I cried.
As the funeral ended four young boys in blue shirts, clip-on ties and khaki pants followed the casket.  Reaching for one last physical connection to their grandfather.  The youngest running, not wanting to be left behind.
And I smiled through my tears.
It was a moving, beautiful service on a sunny, Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend.
And I would not have chosen to be anywhere else.
I hope someday when called to let go of my 90 year old, World War II and Korean War veteran father, that I can do so with as much grace and beauty as Mr. C’s family did with him.
Rest in peace Mr. C.  Your family is in God’s hands.
Thank you, Lord for the gift of the family and this service.  Thank you for the veterans that have fought for our freedom both living and dead.  Please keep safe those that are serving our country today.  Thank you for the gift of freedom.


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