dragonfly tidings

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
dragonfly magic ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

On our mother’s birthday, October 17th, my sister Beverly and I went early to the cemetery in Harwich for some time alone with our parents and our memories, bringing along Papa’s ashes in a nature-inspired wooden casket. After we placed some flowers around the gravestones of our parents and grandparents, a small red dragonfly landed on our parents’ stone. Its presence was a special gift…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
more dragonfly magic ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

A little later, as we were remembering our grandparents, the dragonfly flew over to perch on their gravestone, too, just above the “E” in White.  And there was another special moment after the rest of the family started arriving. A small red dragonfly landed on my brother-in-law’s shoulder and stayed there for a long while. John was the one who was Papa’s primary caregiver for all these years, and it was good to have him appreciated and acknowledged in this meaningful way. I like to think it was the same dragonfly, but can’t know for sure…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

When we had all gathered around in a circle, Tim read my little essay about my father – I knew I couldn’t read it without sobbing – and then my cousin Matthew read messages from his father (my uncle) and his sister (my cousin). And then everyone began sharing their own memories. After that, Beverly lowered the casket full of Papa’s ashes deep into the ground, and then most of us took turns shoveling the earth back over him. It was a beautiful autumn day and our little ceremony felt so natural and intimate.

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
returned to the earth ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

Our parents are together now. The next thing I knew, everyone – there were 14 of us – wanted to go to another cemetery in Dennis, to see where our great-grandparents and two generations before them lie buried. (Swan Lake Cemetery) It was quite something to show my granddaughter the graves of her 5th-great-grandparents, who were immigrants from Norway and Ireland, and tell her how they met here in America and raised their family on Cape Cod, and how he was a sea-captain…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts
favorite things, Papa was very fond of this baby lynx picture in his last years, we kept it hanging on the wall in his bedroom ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

After that little expedition we all made our way over to Yarmouth to eat at the Hearth ‘n’ Kettle, a favorite restaurant of the family. We toasted those who came before us with Cape Codders (vodka, cranberry juice, lime wedge) and enjoyed a delicious leisurely dinner. And then we returned to our rented house and had my parents’ favorite birthday cakes as we gathered around the spacious dining room table – lemon jello cake in honor of my mother and chocolate butter-cream in honor of my father.

10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts
10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

In the evening we piled into the living room and watched a football game while shelling and munching on peanuts, and drinking Papa’s favorite beer. It was my kids’ idea – they have fond memories of shelling peanuts with their Grandpa while he was watching football on TV. It was good to be with family – sharing memories together – some of us had not seen each other in a very long time.

Whenever we were at a funeral, for people or pets, ever since I was a little girl, my father always advised us to remember the good times. And so we did.

17 thoughts on “dragonfly tidings”

  1. Oh Barbara, happy tears were rolling down my cheeks as I read this wonderful remembrance of your recent gathering and celebration to honor family members who have gone before. And to have been gifted with a dragonfly — red nonetheless!

    The presence of a dragonfly facilitates:
    – Greater attention to the nuances and subtleties around us
    – Awareness and gratitude of inner beauty
    – Awareness of outer beauty, and the ability to share it modestly with the world
    – Knowledge of life’s brevity, and understanding the importance of making every minute special

    1. Laurie, thank you so much for sharing the dragonfly messages – how important “to make every minute special.” Perhaps it was the dragonfly prompting the trip to the other cemetery, because I’m not sure who suggested it. We were dismayed to find the second cemetery has not been well cared for and so made plans to return and attend to the “outer beauty” of those plots and stones.

  2. Dragonfly blessings, indeed. How wonderful what Laurie just shared, as well! What a gift to be surrounded by loved ones while saying goodbye to dear ones. I am happy that your mom and dad are together with the ancestors now, watching over the rest of you.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. We received so many gifts and blessings that day, a perfect ending to the twenty-two-year chapter of our lives from the death of my mother to the death of my father. It feels like a transition to something new, a new life I have yet to discover but am looking forward to…

    1. As Kathleen Dean Moore wrote, perhaps this dragonfly was reminding us “to create of it something that shimmers from our spread wings.”

  3. I felt a shiver down my spine when I read about the dragonflies at the cemetery because of the beautiful Dragonfly picture Dominic sent with your son. Your parents were really with you!
    (So nice of Laurie to write out the meaning of Dragonflies for you.)

    Wow Barbara you arranged an absolutely perfect memorial service. You and your sister had time alone at the graveside before everyone came, and your family had a whole weekend to share the memories (I love the little details like ordering your parents favorite cakes and shelling peanuts while watching a football on TV.)

    I didn’t know you had a grand daughter.

    1. All the dragonfly magic was very comforting and inspiring to me, Rosie. I can’t take all the credit for the memorial service – I planned the graveside gathering, but Tim made all the phone calls to the local cemetery commission, the grave-digger, and the stone engraver (for the death date)… And Beverly made the cakes the day before and brought them to the house. And the kids came up with the football game and peanuts idea… Sadly, circumstances beyond our control keep us from seeing our second son and his daughter as often as we would like to, but we both enjoyed getting to know Eliza a little better during these three special days.

  4. Hi Barbara. After my Mom and Dad died, a small yellow bird came to the windows of our house all that next summer. I have never seen them since. They were so comforting. My Mom used to call these things ‘Blessings from Heaven’. Jane

    1. Oh Jane, that is so touching and sweet, the little yellow bird at your windows – I understand how comforting bird visits can be. After my mother died it was mourning doves in my garden. They are indeed, wonderful blessings…

  5. Oh, Barbara, what a beautiful reflection on touching the memories of your father and others … just like the dragonflies … so gentle and real and elusive … as jane tims wrote: “Blessings from heaven.” Thank you for sharing from your heart to mine. XO ♥

    1. Thank you so much for your always kind words, Diane. This morning my sister stopped by and gave me one of my father’s flannel shirts. It still smells like him and I find it comforting to hold it close. I still have Dominic’s dragonfly on my nightstand to comfort me, too. *hugs* ♥

  6. Barbara I took some time to visit your site tonight and as always you delight me with your choices of poetry, art, and now, this wonderful tribute to your Dad, Mom, and grandparents. Your words have touched so many people – such a loving story of the dragonfly. Read Bernie Siegel’s book: The Art of Healing for similar stories inside. And once again, thank you for sharing this with all of your fan/readers.

    1. You’re welcome, Brokenpenwriter – it’s so good to hear from you again! (Not quite sure how we managed to lose touch with each other…) Thank you for your kind words and for the book recommendation – I’ve just added “The Art of Healing” to my Kindle. Looking forward to catching up with you on your blog when the dust settles a little more here…

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