Things have been pretty gloomy lately – weather-wise and otherwise it seems this Spring.
On a personal level, several friends have been dealing with difficult situations ranging from sadness in the deaths and sicknesses of pets to saying final good byes to grandpas. One parent shared they had to travel a long distance to a grandpa’s funeral. Her young daughter had to miss her highly anticipated First Communion with the others in her class, but forgot her own disappointment and generously consoled others. A very dear friend is struggling to gain some normalcy, both physically through severe pain, and emotionally, after a freak accident. Her young courageous grandson witnessed it and ran through the countryside to find help.
And then there have been our national losses and sadness both in Oklahoma, after that mammoth tornado tore through the city of Moore – and in Minneapolis where an exciting fossil hunting field trip turned to heartbreak with the accidental deaths of two young boys.
I hold all of these friends, known and unknown, in my heart.
Today is Memorial Day – weather wise another gray and chilly one. But I woke up knowing I needed to go watch the annual Memorial Day parade.
Memorial Day has always been a very special day in my childhood memory. When I was in 2nd grade, my friend Nancy Menaik and I got asked to carry the banner for the local Pierson High School band. Can you believe it? Do you know what that meant to me? As the youngest of six children, four of the oldest were marching in this band, and now I got to be a part of it too.
I remember my mom and I went shopping for what I needed to wear – excitement in itself since, being the last in line in my family, hand-me-downs were the order of the day. I remember well the outfit – red shorts, a white polo shirt, new white anklets, and white buckled sandals.
And I marched – that year and many others in our small-town Memorial Day parade – as a brownie, girl scout, junior high baton twirler and playing saxophone in the high school band.
And I have loved small parades ever since – and the Memorial Day Parade in La Crosse never disappoints me. It is simple, unfussy, with the heart of the community participating – school bands playing, Cub scouts, Brownies, Veterans, rescue workers and local government folks all marching.
It is always an inspiring picture of the very young and the very old.
I was thankful that I donned my winter jacket and hat and went and watched. It never fails to fill my eyes with tears and my heart with hope.
It’s a strong reminder that even if we may now struggle with grief, we can remember and celebrate the resourcefulness of the young grandson who ran for help, the kindness of the young girl who forgot her disappointment and comforted others, the positive resilience of the residents of Oklahoma, the knowing, brave eyes of the veterans and rescue workers who have seen so much, the innocence of the youngest marchers in their Cub scout shirts and Brownie outfits and the beautiful spirit that lives within us and still shines through it all.
Thank you to all those military families who deal with the unknown every day.