Sunday, May 26, 2013

Arlington National Cemetery

When Grammy passed away several weeks back, we knew that she would be buried at Arlington and that the date and time of the burial would be assigned to us. So, when we received notice that Memorial Day weekend (that Friday morning) was our scheduled time, we made plans to drive up Thursday to DC.

I had a lot of anxiety about the ride. My boys have despised riding even to the store lately, so five hours (without traffic) in the car with them made me want to poke my eyeballs out. We learned from the Myrtle Beach trips that it's best to not mention anything exciting at the end of the car ride, because Mr. Can't Wait would stay awake for said exciting thing. We told Asher we were going on a ride, after lunch, to 'see Nana and PopPop'. After a few hours he said, "Nana and PopPop's house is a looooong ways away." We thought we were banking on a solid nap after playing in the heat all morning and hopping in the car during nap. Wrong. There wasn't much sleeping. But, it wasn't too horrible either. Asher's DVD player broke (told you, kid, that kicking it would break it) and Elias was addicted to Finding Nemo on repeat. I had little activity boxes for both boys (with little small time-consuming items) and those helped out some. We stopped for picnics and bubble blowing at rest stops and took our time arriving. We also missed a few turns (thank you detours) and ended up in the heart of DC for a little driving tour. Read: lost.

And then, we arrived at 'Nana and PopPop's house' aka the hotel. There were cousins to play with, family to visit and a pool to swim in. So, that pretty much made it awesome. The hotel got our room wrong three times, so finally around 8 PM we went down to the pool. Yes, 8 PM. The routiner in me was flipping out. But the mom in me, that wanted the boys to enjoy themselves and SLEEP, was like 'let's go swim!' So, we swam and played. We were all in one room together, with a separate living area. Elias settled into this pack 'n play around 9:30. Asher around 10-something. Elias was up around 11, and 2 and 3:30 and 4:30 and 5. Asher slept through the first few screams, but then he joined in the noise making. Poor guy. He was saying, "Lie-us, huuuuuush. Go to sleep, Lie-us." Asher and Rusty wound up on the couch and then back in our bed. When my alarm went off at 6:30 I was zonked. ZONKED. Breakfast and a peek outside showed me that I had not packed for the weather. I did check the forecast and it didn't say 50 degrees, raining and winding like mad and just plain cold. We were not prepared. We wrapped up in blankets and layered with what clothes I did pack.


We ventured out to Arlington. We went to the main building and there was a family room assigned to us. We waited there until time for the service. The chaplain did a beautiful job. He spoke of Grammy - an Air Force pilot's wife - as a hero of heroes. And how fitting that she be buried there among the others. The boys actually sat quietly through the service. I realized early on that I had one little bar left of my battery on my camera, so I didn't get nearly the number of photos I wanted. Grandpop cried, a lot. When they brought the casket over, he asked, "Is that Mommy?" He's not really remembering what's happened, so we're hoping that by being at Arlington maybe it strikes a chord and he can somehow remember. I know it's hard on Rusty's dad to tell his father over and over at each visit that Grammy has passed away. While they buried Grammy we ventured over to the other side of the section and I was able to take a few photos of her final resting place. We loved that the Air Force memorial monument (like three jets flying) was right behind her gravesite.

The rain began as we were looking for Stanley's grave. Asher was begging to use his umbrella. I happily obliged because I had this vision of his bright umbrella meandering around the site markers on such a cloudy, otherwise gloomy day. We packed up after this and decided it was time to start heading back. The weather was too gross, we were too cold and we knew we had a long drive ahead of us (with no sleep the night before).

Cue: frenzy of packing up, more getting lost from detours (an hour's worth) and traffic jams like mad crazy. We tried to get off 95 to 'keep moving' and 'save time' and I think we just screwed ourselves. The motion did help the boys take a nap, but we were way out of our way and there was traffic even there. We stopped for meals and running around, and drove and drove and drove and drove. Elias pretty much fussed from Richmond until home. At that point, I just tried to block it out and get us home. Asher, sweet boy, kept trying to talk to Elias. At one point he said, "Lie-us, it's ok. Don't cry. Everything is going to be ok." Seriously. How stinkin adorbs is THAT? Annnnd 10 hours later -- we arrived. TEN HOURS. Whew.

Glad I have these photos of the sweet, meaningful, purposeful parts of our trip. I'm glad the boys could run around with their cousins. I'm glad we had that time to hang with Grandpop and Nana and PopPop. Grandpop was clearly enjoying himself. And I know it all meant a lot to Rusty.

Next time, I'm considering Benadryl and/or a chartered flight. No road trips for me anytime soon. Good glory.

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