Last week, we managed through the first anniversary of the passing of my husband’s father, who was an important part of our lives. “Poppy” was a military man, served in WWII and in the National Guard for years, and was a fervent believer in all that is American. It seemed appropriate somehow, that we lost him last year, two days before Memorial Day weekend.
Some of you might have read the poem I posted here a year ago, which described the robin that sang outside his window at the moment he passed. Since then, we’ve seen robins at so many significant times, as a family we’ve come to believe the birds are a cryptic message from Poppy, from wherever he is now. And, at about noontime, my daughter texted me at work, “There is a robin outside my window. He won’t move.” Well, hello there Poppy.
But that only explains one of the things that made May 21, 2015 a day to smile in memory.
A few minutes after that, the following happened. Bear with me here. My own dad, good friends with Poppy, died eleven years ago. As a veteran, my dad was eligible for a plaque at the foot of his grave, indicating his service. In order to get it though, we had to produce his military discharge papers and they were nowhere to be found after he died. My siblings and I all knew we should have pursued it, but none of us had the heart to wade through what we perceived would involve mountains of red tape and bureaucracy, and so that agenda item landed square on the list titled “someday.”
But on Thursday, on Poppy-the-military-man’s anniversary, I happened to have a conversation with our town’s veterans' agent, a man I met through Poppy. I wasn’t thinking about my dad’s grave, but the story of the discharge papers came up. With that, the agent sat down at the computer, typed in a password, my father’s name and voila, up came the discharge papers. In addition, the agent is going to walk me through the process of getting the stone ordered and placed. So on the first anniversary of Poppy’s death, I began the process of putting something to rights that’s been wrong for too long. I believe, in all my heart that from some other realm, Poppy had a hand in this.
But, if you question that, listen to this.
I brought the paperwork the agent gave me home. There are choices to be made and so I emailed my siblings with information. As I was reading the application, I came to this:
ADDITIONAL ITEMS may be inscribed at Government expense if they are requested on the initial claim and space is available. Examples of additional items include appropriate terms of endearment, nicknames (in expressions such as “OUR BELOVED POPPY”).
Okay. So now do you believe me?
Still shaking my head at the serendipity or synchronicity or whatever was going on, I went out to pick up flowers to put on Poppy’s grave. It just seemed right that in front of the store, the Veterans were already soliciting donations… in return for donating; they offered…well, you know this one, a poppy. I bought one and looped it around the ribbon decorating the plant I'd purchased.
After my husband got home from work, we went to visit his dad’s grave, then out to dinner and I recounted all of the ways that Poppy had been around today. But, we weren’t done yet. At home, I did a quick Facebook check before we went to bed, and the first thing that came up was this picture posted by one of my friends.
Giving thanks on Memorial Day to all who served our country, and giving thanks to Poppy, too.