I have been unable to do that fully for years.
Mother died in '99 and her burial arrangements were for Dad. What he wanted, what he needed to feel like he had given her the best. Dad was in mid Alzheimer's and some days he would forget Mom had died. Then he would remember and oh, how he would grieve all over again as if it had recently happened. We were relieved when he forgot Mom and he settled into a time of service to his country, before Mom and before us.
Mom knew he had Alzheimer's but would not tell because you don't "air your dirty laundry". You take care of your own. Before she passed she asked me to "take care of every thing" but mostly she meant Dad. That was all she would say giving us no hint of how different Dad was.
And so we did. My two sisters and I gave Dad the best care we could give. Keeping him in his and Mom's home until we couldn't.
When Dad died we knew what he wanted and that was the service we gave. His friend read Dad's favorite Psalm, the Twenty-Third. His neighbors, mother and daughter, sang his favorite song, Amazing Grace. I gave the Eulogy at a graveside service written by his oldest grandson, Toni, and me. Dad would have liked it. He was buried with military honors with a twenty-one gun salute. The flag was presented to my oldest sister. She turned and presented it to his oldest grandson. It was as it should be.
I watched a show with a Marine Honors Burial. When they removed the flag from the casket I broke. I bawled like I lost them tonight. My heart had broken open and the tears flowed like a river in full flood. I could not stop. I was alone. Even if I wasn't I don't think I could put into words why I broke down during a television show. It was time.
Mother did not know the gargantuan task I laid on myself with her simple words "Take care of every thing". Those few words left me no time nor room to mourn because I had to DO what was asked. I judged myself harshly. I would look around and say aloud, "Mom and Dad would not like this". I was appalled that I could not perform to what I perceived as Mom and Dad's expectations.
I was measuring my accomplishments with a stick so big no one could have met my high standards. I realized tonight Mom and Dad would not have wanted me to judge myself so harshly. They wanted us to love the land and treat it kindly and in doing that to follow our dream, not theirs.
When my eyes were dry, I wrote and released myself from the super standards I had given. I love this land. We all do...and that was what Mom and Dad wanted.
Mom died in '99 and Dad joined her in '06. I have finally mourned. I think they would be proud of what we've done with their dream.