Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Chapter Closes, Another Opens

Last week we took a trip to Alexandria, VA to attend a memorial service and burial for my mother at Arlington National Cemetery. Our daughter, Tina, accompanied us, along with a chair that my sister wanted but couldn't take home with her on the plane back in March. We fit everything in my Subaru wagon with a few inches to spare and saved a lot on gas versus driving the SUV such a long distance. Tina had a lot more room on the way home, needless to say.

It's been quite a few years since we took a vacation of any sort, much less travelled east to the DC area where my sister lives, so it was a real treat to get away even if only for a few days. DC/Alexandria is one of my favorite places in the world, and I would love to live there if it weren't for the heat, humidity, congestion and traffic! It's a far cry from northern Michigan in all respects, but is so loaded with the history of our great country that there is tons to see at every turn.

I was quite disappointed that I didn't take my camera because the flash cards were acting up, so I had to depend on my husband to take photos and thus didn't get a lot of shots I would have taken if I'd had my camera. So, there were no photos of the mountains in Pennsylvania or Maryland or all the interesting barns we saw along the way. And, not many photos of family once we reached my sister's house in Alexandria.

My sister has an ideal location just off the George Washington Parkway north of Alexandria proper. She's also a few miles south of Mt Vernon which we visit almost every time we go. There is a wonderful biking/hiking/running path that goes along the parkway which my biking/running daughter took advantage of a couple of times while lamenting that Ann Arbor, where she lives, doesn't have anything nearly as nice. There is just a small strip of woods that separates the parkway from the Potomac at this point also, which makes the area very beautiful. To top it off, Alexandria is a city that oozes with the charm of colonial style architecture and buildings dating to the early days of our Republic.

The weekend's events included a mini family get together as well as the ceremony at Arlington where my father had already been laid to rest. My oldest sister and her daughter joined us from S. Carolina and Georgia, and my niece and her husband came from England. My nephew and his wife also live in Alexandria, so we had some good times visiting at my sister's house and having great food and fun conversation.

The weather cooperated, and the ceremony at Arlington couldn't have been nicer! My sister did a wonderful job of planning it, and all who wanted to spoke a few words about my remarkable mother. Afterwards, we had a delicious luncheon at the Army/Navy officer's club (thanks to my retired Army brother-in-law's connections) and then went home and took a nap. We were all pretty exhausted by that time.

The next day the three of us took in the wonderful new museum at Mt. Vernon and learned much about the Father of our Country. If you have a chance, be sure to take it in the next time you visit Mt. Vernon. That night Tina was invited by her cousins to join them at a concert of The Gipsy Kings at Wolf Trap. She had a wonderful time.

On Sunday we said our goodbyes and headed for home with me feeling a sense of peace, both for myself and for my mother. With this chapter of my life closed at long last, perhaps now I'll have the time and emotional energy once again to devote to my art; my life's work.

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