Over the Veterans Day weekend, we had my mother-in-laws funeral in Southwest Florida. Emilie was almost 98 and had been fairly incapacitated for some time. As none of her children lived in the area, her care was handled by a number of very kind and competent women. They were all connected with each other, including three of them, who were sisters. As one would expect of a funeral for someone in their late 90’s, there was not a huge crowd at the service, mostly just family and these caregivers.
Following the church service and committal, everyone gathered back at Emilie’s apartment. As the church did not need them for its Sunday service, we also brought back the flowers that had been on the altar. As the gathering wound down, one of the caregivers – who actually had not taken care of Emilie for a while – asked if she could have the altar flowers. My wife agreed, of course.
The flowers were certainly pretty and I guess we assumed that was why this woman wanted them. There had also been other flowers sent to the apartment so it was not like they would be missed.
The next day we found out that this woman had gone to a local cemetery and placed flowers on the graves of veterans. These were not family members’ grave, nor the graves of anyone she ever knew. She was not a veteran herself and I don’t think she had much of a direct connection to those who had served. She just wanted to remember those who had served our country. That simple gesture of remembrance awed me. Veterans need to be remembered and their memory respected. This is a lesson for all of us.