On my recent trip to CT, my sister and mother wanted to track down the flat marker that indicated the spot where my step-grandmother was buried with her first husband. Unlike in northern Maine, where there are many headstones with the name Flewelling carved into marble, this small quiet CT cemetery has one marker with this name.
It seems that they are out of place, these two Flewellings – since their life in CT was not where the majority of their lives were spent. We hunted for a bit and finally I saw it. We pushed the grass back from the edges of the stone – confirmed the name, and then took a few photos to send to her far away descendants.
As I was wandering through this quiet cemetery looking for the flat marker, I noted a beautiful tall headstone at the perimeter. I was surprised to see that there were three matching dates of death and began to wonder if it was a car accident or a fire that claimed three family members at the same time.Then I noticed the surname.
Five years ago, there was a family brutally attacked in their home in a small town in CT. The mother and her two teen-aged daughters were murdered after hours of torture. The father was beaten but escaped, crawling out a basement window to try to get help. The help arrived too late for the women. Their murderers were just recently convicted of these horrible murders.
The gravestone was crafted with relief drawings at the top. There were potted flowers in front and yellow flowers cradling the sides of the stone, obviously having been tended with love. It was a simple headstone and the location was peaceful – in stark contrast to how they died. I stood for a few minutes and thought about the horror they endured for hours before they were killed – and the man who survived as well. He lost his family and the life he knew and had to endure the legal trials – yes trials – as each man was tried separately. I’ve read that this man who lost so much is engaged now – and marvel that years later he was able to find a way to love again.
I took a picture of the stone – feeling somewhat intrusive as I did. As I stood in this place, I remembered the murders but now felt the peacefulness and quiet of this place that felt quite sacred. The stone was simple but beautiful – and the location at the edge of the small cemetery offered a place of contemplation of lives lost.
The phrase “rest in peace” felt very right as I walked away.
Twice In the past year, he has walked a daughter down a long aisle. He has witnessed them join their lives to the partners they have chosen. He has assembled furniture and moved furniture into new homes and hugged them and kissed them good-bye. He will perform a ceremony joining his last unmarried child to a special woman later this year. He watched his eldest begin his own journey as a father nearly one year ago.
As a daddy, he rocked his babies to sleep next to his heart in a big wooden rocker. When they grew a bit more, little girls were picked up and twirled around in daddy dances. Sometimes, there was a niece who was danced as well. He sang to them, told stories of the adventures of brown haired girls and boys and yellow haired girls and boys, chased them squealing, and tucked them in and gave good-night kisses. He was a bit player in plays they created and directed.
He taught them to drive. He taught them about life. He told (tells) them jokes.
He prayed for them.
He modeled what character acts like and how a husband should treat a wife. He loved / loves their mother. He taught without words which traits would be desirable in a husband – and how to BE a husband – simply by being who he is. Patient. Faithful. Honoring his God. Gentle. Forgiving. Generous with his time. Humble. (He will be uncomfortable with this tribute -*smile*) He worked hard even on days it was not particularly fulfilling to do so.
He did not do everything right. Fathers make mistakes and good fathers ask forgiveness and try again.
He’s entered the time of life when they’re no longer upstairs in their rooms at night. They’re now in the little instant message chat box on the computer, or they’re on the phone, and sometimes – they’re visiting in the same room.
There have been glimpses of the dancing daddy from years ago as he twirls another little one around. He holds her up high and she squeals in delight. His daughters and niece get a glimpse of how he played with them. They smile as they watch him swing her around.
They may even remember.
Entertaining the Troops