I expected that Sawyer starting school would bring a good sense of calm, routine, and just quietness around here. But, as it turns out, that's not what happened.
Last Wednesday, Sawyer started school. He did GREAT, and so did I- just a few tears as I watched him enter the building. He doesn't seem wiped out by the full day at all which really surprised me. He did say, "You know it seems like they [the school] don't care about our other life."
Me: "What 'other life'?"
Sawyer: "You know. Being at home. Playing."
Yeah....they don't really seem to care much about that, do they?
On Friday morning, Scot's Grandpa Duke passed away. While we had known it was coming and it was a blessing to know he was no longer suffering, it hit us harder than we expected. We've lost Grandpa Duke little by little over the last 6 years or so, so in some ways it feels like he's been gone for awhile, but as you can see in the picture above which was taken this year at Easter, he was still a part of our lives and he still enjoyed having the kids up to visit.
We sent Sawyer off to school Friday morning, and headed up to be with Scot's mom at the Veteran's Home where Grandpa lived (and where my mother-in-law worked so that she could be with her dad). What we didn't know is that we were going to be there for his "departure ceremony". When a resident at the VA Hospital dies, the resident veterans pay their own respects as the resident's body is removed from the building. The security guards draped Duke in the American flag, and then rolled him down through the halls of the VA with the family following behind.
It was one of the most moving things I had ever seen, and it took me by surprise. As we followed Duke's body through the VA, everyone stood along the hallways to pay quiet respect. As it turned out our congressman was at the VA on this morning to host a "Town Meeting" on health care reform. So, when our processional reached the sort of common gathering area/dining room where the elevator was, there was a large crowd of people- many veterans, nurses, the head of the VA Hospital, and the congressman (whose arrival and/or speech had been interrupted by this ceremony)- all gathered to say goodbye because that's what they do at the VA, and congressman's visit or not, it was time for Duke to leave. Duke would have loved this because he was a lifelong, very passionate republican. So, to know his departure interrupted the congressman's visit would have given him great joy. Afterward, it made us all smile. (More about the congressman tomorrow.....)
So, once we arrived in the commons area, the security guards stopped at the elevator, and one of the veterans said a little something (I have no idea what, because by this time I was really crying). When he was finished, he called all the veterans to stand and salute. I watched as men and women who could barely lift themselves up out of their wheelchairs struggled to their feet to salute their brother who was now gone. I truly have never seen anything so moving. I wanted to hug every person in that room for reminding us so powerfully of who Duke was and how much his service to our country meant.
Anyway, Grandpa Duke LOVED all things trains, and so quite fittingly, my mother-in-law arranged for his funeral to be held at a local train station. It was beautiful, and so appropriate for him. He would have loved it. Afterwards, he was interned with his wife of 58 years at the Veteran's cemetery. Sawyer was disappointed that they didn't have the 21 gun salute as originally planned, but it was a very private, simple ceremony that was also very moving with it's military traditions.
We'll miss Grandpa Duke very much, but are glad to know that he is not suffering and he is with his wife and his Creator.