My husband’s kind-hearted stepdad, known to our children as Grandpa Chuck, passed away two weeks ago. He had been sick for some time, but had seemed to have more time remaining. After a few days of planning and preparations, we left the boys with my parents and flew to Arkansas, taking sweet E along.

The funeral took place on a shining fall morning. He was buried in a military cemetery, lined with ranks of uniform white headstones reflecting the sunlight, and bordered by trees brilliant in gold and scarlet.

The servicemen stood immaculate and motionless. My daughter ran in circles on the sun-warmed grass.

I thought often of my own grandpa’s military burial, now years ago. I felt again, as I did then, the somber gratitude in the air–these men put their very lives at the service of their country and of the freedoms we can easily take for granted. They are rightly honored.

After the three volleys, Taps.

J holding the flag and U.S. Navy seals from the casket.

E was finished being quiet, so we observed the proceedings from the grass a safe distance away.

She tried to catch falling leaves, and dashed back and forth between the trees.

This sunny girl and her three sweet cousins drew many smiles.

A spectacular Arkansas sunset.

I didn’t know there were mountains in Arkansas, until I saw this view.

Fiery chrysanthemums, reflecting the sunset.

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We were glad to be there for the services, but sorry to say goodbye. Grandpa Chuck will be missed.

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