This afternoon, I have a funeral to attend, a milestone of sorts. A sad one: the last of my father's siblings passed away last week, a younger brother.
Even as it happens, it's difficult to imagine, the last one gone -- there were ten children in his generation; three I never knew, who died young, but the others I can remember as well as if they were right here. They're not; memory is all that's left. The house they grew up in is a vacant lot. Last time I was by, the little commercial building their father had built still stood, as do most of their nearby houses, the homes I remember from my childhood; but there's no one I know in any of them. It was a little neighborhood of relatives all within walking distance for a short, sparkling while, but Time's arrow flies inexorably onward and all we are left with is what we can carry in our minds.
Update: Yes, it was wrenching. In keeping with recent custom, there were plenty of photos of the deceased, many of them with my late father standing right next to him.
As the service neared conclusion, a fellow slipped in behind me, whispered, "There will be a little breeze," and opened the window. This was not a mystery for long, as the preacher informed us there would be "military honors." I'd seen the honor guard outside when I arrived (late; work had me on the phone). Rifle salute, followed by taps, right there in a parking lot along the main highway through an Indianapolis bedroom community -- I do love this state.
My (little -- 6' 5" is little, right?) brother looks more like Dad every time I see him; he doesn't have the thick, jet-black hair but he has sure got the bone structure. And that's a good thing. His son resembles him, which is even better. We come and go -- genes linger.
4 weeks ago