I felt as if I were introducing my children to my father for the first time. Because, ultimately, I don’t think they really understood until today. There is something about kinesthetic learning that cements things for us.
We stopped to buy flowers and my granddaddy encouraged the kids to pick out some. I was amazed to find some blue (albeit altered to look that way) daisies. I remembered how adamant I had been at the young age of 8 that I take my daddy blue flowers. The nice florist looked for blue and there were none to be found so he took some carnations in the back and sprayed them with blue paint for me.
The drive out to the base in Pensacola, Florida, was not only the first time my children had seen where my father is buried, but also the first time they have been on a military base. My daughter trembled and didn’t feel safe. My son was fascinated.
My granddaddy’s wife sat and arranged flowers while my children noted the dates and names of the many soldiers around him. My daughter was in awe of how straight the rows were and that they seemed to go on forever.
“This place is really sad,” she finally sighed out.
We placed the flowers and took pictures and then headed out to lunch and trip to the aviation museum where my kids sat in every cockpit they could and pretended to fly. They also took a couple rides in a flight simulator that had 3-D visuals and really moved 360 degrees.
The bittersweetness of the day will be remembered for a lifetime to come. I think my daddy would have been proud of them.