I've made a mental note to measure the walking distance if one traces the five pavilions of the Muskegon Farmers Market. It can't be a mile but it takes time to walk. One has to wait as baby carriages roll on by. For a moment I stopped, blinded by a helium balloon the breeze had pushed into my face. Today, the market had a patriotic theme, the West Michigan Concert Winds performing marches in the shade of the band shell. Two teams of honor guards in dress whites held out bouquets of red Memorial Day poppies in their white gloved hands, lest we forget, on sale for a donation to assist veterans in need. Usually, my rear view mirror has been bedecked by a poppy by now, sold to me by a veteran standing in the street, stop light about to turn green, no hazardous duty pay requested. Must buy two.
Must buy two. Wrap the green metal stem around my rear view mirror post, one for mother and father. In March, their family and friends laid them to rest at the military cemetery in Holly, the green rolling land echoed by the waves of a lake teeming with swans and mallards. Mom liked the grounds when she attended a ceremony last October with her daughter and her husband, sister and brother in law to me. She had the honor of being the most senior veteran on the field, age granting seniority. Or so I would like to think. Despite her military records going up in flames with about a division's worth of records, Ann and Steve had nailed down enough documentation for the cemetery's standards. "I can be here"? Joan asked her daughter Ann. "Yes, father and you together", Ann could answer.
"Yes, you and father together", she could answer. In March of this year, Ann's promise came true. A military detachment fired twenty-one rounds over the lake in their honor, the shells presented to Ann after the honor guard had presented two American flags, gratitude of a nation. In the open air chapel that regarded the blue waters from a hillock, I stood behind the seated rows in a cold wind. It was the best I could do. I hadn't stood at attention for years. I remembered how I had stood at attention in Byron's cemetery, overlooking the mill pond. For years, the Memorial Day parade led to the cemetery. First, I visited in the uniform of a scout. Then, in the uniform of my marching band. After the twenty-one gun salute, the Daughters of the American Republic floated lilies upon the water.
After the twenty-one gun salute, the Daughters of the American Republic floated lilies upon the water. The lilies often found the current of the mill race and towny kids fished them out and gave the blooms to mothers and grandmothers. Nice bit of resurrection symbolism when you reflect upon it. One way of saying it is mother came to me in a dream this morning. We were driving a golf cart through an industrial complex, ten story brick buildings crumbling under the blows of wrecking balls swinging. She led me through the dust and noise to an underground passage where a thousand men and women took the waters, a public bath as ancient as the stews of London. "Your father often retreated to this grotto. I knew about it during his living years. Now you know". And she pressed on the pedal, drove off.