In honor of Veteran’s Day, I would like to tell you a story about my Uncle Jerry. He was a veteran; he served in the navy during the Korean War. He passed away in 2007, either very late April or very early May.
Uncle Jerry joked and laughed. He lightened the mood. Even when someone was being irritating, his response would be jovial instead of confrontational. For instance, one Thanksgiving during the rush of last-minute kitchen-to-table preparations as everyone was frantically opening cans of cranberry sauce and mashing potatoes and whisking gravy, someone I don’t remember (probably someone’s long ago dumped boyfriend) huffily sneered “I could go for a cup of coffee,” and held up his cup to be waited upon. As everyone in the kitchen turned as one, seething and armed with any number of implements capable of inflicting serious if not fatal wounds upon this moron, Uncle Jerry cheerfully answered, “There’s a McDonald’s down the street. Go for it!” Crisis averted.
On the day of his funeral, we had mostly all kept our composure. After all, the bustle of moving from the funeral home to the church to the cemetery keeps your mind occupied and prevents you from truly feeling your loss. When we got to the cemetery, a Naval honor guard was waiting.
It’s very touching and beautiful, if you’ve never seen it yourself. By the time we got inside the cemetery chapel, and saw them hand my aunt that folded up flag, everybody just lost it and started sobbing. It was just too beautifully sad and final. It was so utterly still and silent in there, you could almost hear the teardrops falling.
That’s when the noise in my purse started. A purse sitting on a back table with no one around to touch it. It was my Napoleon Dynamite talking keychain. Going off, on its own, repeating over and over, “Liger. Li-li-li-li liger. Pretty much my favorite animal…” Suddenly, through their tears, a sizable number of people broke out laughing.
Now, keep in mind my keychain had never done that before nor after that moment. And while cynics or people who don’t believe in the supernatural would probably find some logical, non-mystical explanation for that happening, I fully believe it was my uncle who couldn’t bear to see us all so sad, cheering us up.
So Happy Veteran’s Day to Uncle Jerry, Uncle Ray, all the aunts and uncles or cousins or anyone out there who gave up any portion of their lives to their country. We love and appreciate you.