Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As Far As The Eye Can See

White headstones. My father was interred today at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. It has been nine weeks since he died but my mother couldn't find his discharge papers, so it took longer than it should have done.

It would have been best to put a period to this process earlier, but it was a beautiful day and the place doesn't look desolate in the spring. It is very overwhelming in winter to see all of the stark white headstones in the winter landscape. My mother may have been overcome by that.

We were in a small section of the cemetery and look at all of these headstones. Your eye cannot not see where they end. Amazing. Sobering. And strangely peaceful and comforting.

Look at them all.

There were a lot of these in the thirty feet or so that we walked about in. Notice the headstone in the background as well. When I commented on this Mark said it isn't any different now. The US has the highest infant mortality rate of the industrialized nations. Still, to see so many in such a small space.

When Taps is played there is no getting away without a catch in the throat and tears in the eyes. He got a three shot salute and a full honor guard. My father didn't want to be buried so his ashes will be interred in a wall niche. There is a space beside him for my mother.

Now this chapter is closed. He became a different person in his last few years, so I will remember and miss my dad as he had been and not as he became. I'm glad he will spend eternity here, with so much company.


  1. Oh Bless You Sandra. The weather does look lovely. The green grass, flowering trees and elegant white headstones have a dignified beauty. My adoptive father was buried in a blizzard on a cold winter morning. I know what you mean about taps. The honor guard was at his graveside and it left a very strong impression on me. I'm glad that this gives some closure and hope it gives your mom peace as well.

  2. Good to know he is now at peace. The order of all those rows seems to somehow convey an order to the cycle of life. Order comforts us. I hope you are able to find peace and comfort now dear Sandra. You have been through a lot in the last while.

  3. Cemetaries and burial grounds are special places. I think of all the things we have lost in someone's passing; things we don't even know we've lost.

    I'm happy your dad has been laid to rest in such a beautiful place, and the forces of nature cooperated to make it a lovely day even for the hardest of tasks.

  4. The weather was so lovely. Your pictures are stunningly beautiful and sad at the same time. You are wise to remember the good in your father.

    I expect the representation of the good in your father is you!

  5. I like cemetaries. I find them peaceful & many of ours have beautiful gardens.

    My dad was cremated. His ashes are still in a box in mum's closet because he wanted them scattered at sea & my brother has been away on his boat for 3 years. Maybe when he comes home later this year...

    I'm opting for cremation too. Feed me to the roses. ☺

  6. May your Mother find peace as well, as for you, nana used to say that a good memory only remembers good things. I am with her and with you. May all your memories be comforting and sweet, like a goodbye that only means till we meet again.

  7. It is truly a beautiful cemetery. It is nice that he will be next to you mother in the end. I am sorry for your families loss but happy to that he is now at peace.

    Hugs to you,


  8. Oh Sandra, you just sent a chill down my spine with your last sentence in your post. I've never thought of it this way, but looking at your images and hearing your words. You are right he has so much company surrounding him.

  9. Thanks Deb. My mother will have a difficult time of it, but it wasn't helping to have this hanging over her head.

    Bonnie, the geometry of the rows was engaging. I was mesmerized by the optical illusion they created.

    gsc, as I was reading headstones I wondered about the lives of these people. And seeing the numerous newborn babies buried there was sad. I'm glad the government allows infants to be buried there, so they can be next to the parents when they pass on.

    Jean, my mother has always told me I am just like my father. So perhaps you are right. He was a good man who became an angry man. I'll remember the good man.

    Ganeida, I hope your brother will return soon to allow your father's last wish. I agree, feed me to the roses as well.

    Allegra, I would be happy being food for your roses. Your nana gave good advice.

    Ashley, it is beautiful. It's a comfort to know my mother has her place beside him.

    Liss, so many, many graves. I had the thought of all the company they have.

  10. Such a hard thing to do, but peace and rest are with your Dad and like you said amongst good company. Hugs to you.

  11. oh Sandra,
    I am glad for you , and your Mother that there is some closure to this.

    And I suppose there is a certain beauty, the renewal , the coming to life even in death.

    I imagine you are writing with elegance , something which you might not have much of in this situation, and it is testament to the hope you carry and convey.

  12. deb, thank you. The cemetery has a ethereal beauty. You know what the headstones are, but the massive sweep of them, the pattern they form and the flowering trees all combine to make it beautiful and reassuring.

  13. Beautiful and sobering. I am forever intrigued by cemeteries. In December we visited the Rock Island Arsenal and the National Cemetery was so striking. I read as many names as I could, and thought a bit about those people's lives and the wars we fight.

    The loss of my father still shapes my days, almost two years later. That his ashes are not scattered, or buried, but sitting in a sad shrine in mom's house keeps a bit of closure in limbo. I can't begin to describe how I felt hearing taps played and watching service men present mom his flag - a proud and sad moment I felt in my bones.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I'm sorry for your loss, and hope you and your mom find closure and remember only the best parts of your Dad.


I really appreciate the concept and sentiment behind awards, but I cannot participate in them anymore. I have too may and I have not got the time to devote to participating properly. To all who have honored me, I am grateful but I don't have seven more things to tell anyone about myself! And I'm a terrible passer-oner.