Before you dive in, let me first say, this article is not about our wonderful troops – incredible as they are, and so worthy of remembering and honoring. This post will aim to go much deeper, and hopefully turn your eyes, your mind and your heart toward home — toward the people you’ve lost or simply lost touch with, whether they’ve served our country or not. It will make an effort to turn your thoughts toward connections, which, though sometimes cut off or broken, should never be forgotten.
That said, let’s not forget on this Memorial Day in the United States, why it was was established in the first place: as a special day to remember those who’ve died in our nation’s service.
One can sense the lack of enthusiasm for this as you travel west from the cradle of our nation’s birth (near Boston), and continue as far as the land of the Wild Wild West and the Cradle of our Nation’s Gold Rush. It seems that if a person has grown up in a state that lacks the monuments for the Revolutionary War or the Civil War history, they’re less likely to feel a deep sense of tradition or responsibility to acknowledge those who were tortured, shredded by shrapnel or torn by explosions while serving our country. Even though many did this out of passion for a belief, and to accomplish what they truly felt was DAMN RIGHT on behalf of our country and our people, it’s not something people truly remember or feel something for these days.
I’m not sure WHAT it takes to rally the passions (and actions to back it up) among us these days. And if you point me to Occupy Wallstreet I will hurl.
Also, if you ask people to participate in your reality or comedy series, or a flash mob you’ve got game. Talk to them about devoting their life to ANYTHING and you lose them before you can squeak out “devo…”
I’m sure this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s prevalent. Why do you think Occupy Wallstreet was met with such mixed response? Scratch that. Don’t answer that. We’re not going there today. Let’s get back to the crux of this piece…
This article is about you and me. It’s about the connections we’ve made with very important people in our lives, or along the way in our journeys. It’s about not allowing those memories of people who impacted us to simply sit or fade away.
I love Memorial Day for the depth it can carry. While many people in the U.S. are grilling, socializing and reveling in the fun of the long holiday weekend, I think it is also important to realize the reason we are on holiday.
This Memorial Day I wish to remember people I call heroes in my world.
1) My dad, otherwise known as Orville Joe Sherwood, or Papa Joe to his grandkids is my hero. He is first here on the list because though he didn’t die in our nation’s service, he served for a full lifetime as an enlisted man, and left the Navy as Chief Petty Officer when he retired. He is a hero because he was the net that surrounded and supported my mom and kept all eleven of us kids in line when we needed it most. I miss him when I see things happen now in our family that should never happen. I have to ask if he’d been around longer than his short 65 years, would things be different? Though I’m not sure, I seem to think so. He is a HERO to me and all of my family, as well as many of his best friends who remembered him well throughout his life. He was the happy-go-lucky man who was a wonderful compliment to his wife – my mom. My dad smoked cigarettes, and suffered for years through Emphysema and heart disease before he was killed by a cancer none of us knew even existed. He passed away in March of 1988.
2) My mother Nereide Francis Padalino Sherwood is my hero, God bless the woman. She (like dad) was raised during the Great Depression in a single parent home. This made for one TOUGH woman. But she held to the love of her life – the Catholic Church – with all its rules and regulations, and despite the trends of the day, kept getting pregnant and HAVING all those kids. THANK GOD, because I am number TEN of ELEVEN kids she had. I’m sure she THANKED GOD as well, because I was her favorite. Yep. I said that. But the thing that makes my mom a hero is her attitude. My mom was the one who made all of us feel as though we could and WOULD accomplish anything we put our minds to. If we wanted something all we needed to do was work toward it to make it happen. There was never a question in her mind, and subsequently in my mind. She is also the one who laughed at herself and at life. She taught us to laugh at the same things. So of course, we all laughed at her, and then, yes, we laughed at ourselves. A classic line my mom is remembered for, which busted up (for some, to the point of tears), all who were present: “Ohhhh! What a BONER!” She MEANT to say ‘what a bummer’, and we knew it but we CRACKED up and never let her live it down. She laughed at herself then too. She was Lucille Ball incarnate, and I like to think that I follow in her footsteps in that regard. It’s my badge of honor.
3) My beautiful, vibrant and larger than life sister Mimi – or Mary Louise Sherwood Larimore (also known as Maven in Ms. Cheevious-land). She was the sister who was closest in age to me, so of course she is my hero. Had she never come home from shopping with her girlfriends in eighth grade, having spent her allowance to buy me a Donny Osmond album, it wouldn’t have mattered. I idolized her anyway. But she did that, and I was forever in awe. On top of her good heart and incredibly hilarious wit, she was the one in the family who could cut through all the bullshit and called a spade a spade. PERIOD. No harm, no foul. If you heard the wrath of Mimi it was because you probably deserved it. On the flip side, if she unleashed on you in error she was the first to inform everyone she’d made the error and ask for forgiveness. She was REAL, FUNNY, BOLD and COURAGEOUS. She took each of those intense qualities with her to the grave when she lost her 7 year battle with Ovarian Cancer. She is my all-time hero. I loved her and the wound is still open and raw, but I remember her and I never want to forget.
Who is it for you? Who are the people in your world who you’d like to remember? Perhaps it’s someone who is still alive, but you’ve lost touch. Whatever the case, I encourage you to spend a few minutes on this Memorial Day to put some thought and purpose into the holiday – after you’ve had your fun, if necessary. It is so important to remember those people that have elicited change or at minimum, thoughtfulness in our lives. It is the ultimate show of respect to think of them today, and if they are alive, perhaps even let them know you thought of them in such a way.
Enjoy your day everyone! Tune in next time for something truly amazing.
Love you people!!!!! Mmmmppphhhuuuhhhh!!!!
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