02 April 2008

Visit Nan and Pop

"Being Happy, Healthy and Safe" item number three is to visit Nan and Pop's grave before I get the hell out of New York.

The car was free for the whole day so I nabbed my chance to get out of the house for a while. My plan started out simple. I was just going to go to Applebee's and eat some spinach and artichoke dip while writing in my paper journal. After I finished, though, and got back to the car, I realized I only have a week and a half left to complete this goal. The weather was lovely, if a little cold, and this was possibly my only shot to accomplish it. So I headed for the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.

Since this trip wasn't part of my plan, I was unprepared. I didn't have any directions so I was going completely by memory and I'd only been there once in May of 2002 for Pop's funeral. (Nan was cremated in 1993 and her ashes were put in Pop's casket with him, so it was one burial all at once.) I didn't know where the hell I was for about an hour before I finally admitted to myself that I might possibly be a bit lost. However, when I swallowed my pride and asked for directions, it turns out I was in Schaghticoke which is just across the river from Schuylerville, where I wanted to be. I did a pretty decent job, just going by instinct!

The first task was to stop at the information center to look up the plot number and print out a map. I found the design of the cemetery really interesting. All these military folks, still all organized into straight lines, and all the roads are circles and curves. There's not an inch of straight driving once you're inside.

As I headed back to the car with my map, suddenly I was extremely happy that I'd decided to go by myself because my eyes were already starting to water. There was a bit of sniffling and my lips started to tremble and everything. I knew it wasn't going to be good.

Sure enough, as soon as I was standing in front of the stone and looking at the names, the dam broke. It's about a month short of six years since Pop died and I never really cried about it. Well, I think I've made up for that now. It was like a scene from a bad melodrama. The temperature was forty degrees but I curled up on the ground anyway and I just sobbed and sobbed. I cried so hard that I managed to pull something in my back and for so long that I got sick. Not right there on the grave; I got up, walked across the road to the edge of the trees and did it there.

When I got back to their plot I sat down again and talked to them for a while through my tears. Then I realized that they'd been buried in Section 8 and ... I laughed. I was a little bit hysterical but at least it stopped me from crying and I didn't start again. About an hour after arriving, I had a headache and my eyes were stinging and my sinuses were so clogged that my whole face hurt, but I felt like I'd made some kind of psychological progress and I'd run out of things to talk about, so I headed home.

I didn't get lost.

No comments: