Saturday Morning Message: Special Memories
Author: Carol Lane
Sharing special memories about your loved one can be helpful for you, and it also allows others to get to know your cherished person. As you will see in the responses this week, there are a variety of ways to share those memories. Sometimes writing is good, but with technology, you can also use video or pictures if you find writing is too difficult right now. In that way, you can pick it up later if you want to add to the memory.
The last time my son, Bryon, came home I found out something I never knew about him. He asked if we could go to a local pancake house for dinner. When he was young, the family went on a trip to Disney World. On the way there, we stopped for pancakes. He never forgot that and wanted to recreate that experience with the family when he was on leave. Now we go to that same pancake restaurant every year on his birthday. I hope you get to know each other’s loved ones by the stories shared in this message.
You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.
If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
I am looking for more questions for the Saturday Morning Message that apply to general grief and how others cope. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at email@example.com. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address.
This week’s question comes from a topic on the TAPS Facebook page. There was an article titled “13 Hobbies Veterans Recommend for Dealing With Stress,” and I thought it would be a good idea to share the ways survivors cope with the pressure brought on by grief. We can learn some ways others cope to add to our ideas, so the question is: What do you do to help relieve stress in your life?
♫ Song for the Week
A survivor sent the song “Don't Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin a while ago. I really like the message it brings, so it is the Song for the Week.
I am always looking for songs that survivors find helpful for the Song for the Week section. Please send your favorite songs to be included in this section.
Answers from Survivors
From Michele, mother of Stephen: Anytime someone will listen, you bet I will talk about my son. He was such a old soul at heart. I always say he was born in the wrong era. This is one great memory I have of my son: It was summertime. I was outside working in the yard. Here came my son driving up the driveway, windows down, music loud, singing “Ain't That a Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin. I have to say when he first passed that song would make me cry, but now … Thank goodness for memories.
From Allicia, daughter of Jerry: I don't have any memories of my dad, so the stories I do share are Godwinks. I crave stories family and his friends tell me, but what is most dear is the connection I still am able to feel and the times where even if I try to argue or rationalize away the idea that he is behind what is going on, I just can't! The older I get, the more I am able to recognize when he's around or reaching out to me and am more confident in saying, "That's Dad!" and "Thanks, Dad!"
Some of my most recent and powerful "memories" have been when I visited his grave in Arlington. He seems to warmly welcome visitors since he is buried in Section 1. Not a single family member is within an eight hour drive of D.C., so he rarely gets visitors. I went for the first time in 14 years in May 2016. I didn't know what to expect because I had experienced so much growth and change surrounding my grief journey. I mean, I had only been part of TAPS for a few short months, and I was already seeing and feeling things differently. I remember walking up to his grave the Saturday before Memorial Day, kind of nervous since my relationship and experiences with my dad had changed so much since my last visit. I didn't expect anything really; in fact, I imagined more peace, less emotion. As soon as I saw his name etched in stone, missing, longing and healing pain flooded over me and cleansing tears flowed freely. I looked up at the sky and listened to how quiet it was. It was such a contrast from the other parts of the busy cemetery that I started to record a video. Eight seconds into my video, in that remote corner of the cemetery, I heard bagpipes. And they were real — I have the video to prove it! A small procession walked by the outskirts of Section 1, probably unaware that their music was heard as a loving hello to a grieving daughter from her father at his resting place. It was the warmest welcome I'd received from him up to that point, and I'm so grateful to have it not only in my memory but immortalized on film. May 2017 was no less dramatic, but I'll save that for another post!
Though I don't have memories of physical interaction with my dad, I am grateful for the memories I've been able to acquire over the years where I can confidently say that I know he is with me. And I am grateful that I will be making more memories until the day I am able to hug him again.
From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: We never knew what Andrew would do on any given day. He was so inventive and full of life. He must have been about 8 or 9 years old when I started him in karate. He loved it and took to it automatically. Actually, it helped him so much over the years. He became a karate instructor by the age of 16! It was weird to drive him to the dojo and then bow down before he instructed my class. However, on the way home, I still had to say, “Andy, when we get home remember to take out the garbage and recycling for tomorrow.” He did if reminded.
One night when he was young, after we all had gone to bed, Bob, my husband, heard some noise in the house. Andy’s room was next to ours. Bob got up to investigate and I stayed in bed, scared to death. Next thing I know, I hear Bob laughing and probably somewhat cursing. Thank goodness we did not own a gun.
Bob saw someone in a black ninja outfit climbing into Andy’s room. It was Andy. He said “Dad, it is just me. I went out to get some flowers for Mom tomorrow for Mother’s Day!”
Of course, he picked them from some neighbors! What a character he was! He always had some kind of created uniform that he planned and made in his free time. Some early creations of his are in my photos.
The thought was there, but, really, did he have to go out late at night and get flowers for me?
He did a good job selecting the ones he wanted, and we did display them the next day.
Never a dull moment with my son Andy.