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Mom ( Australian translation: Mum) lives in a very nice assisted living facility in an apartment, but it is only one bedroom. (Photo below) Consequently, when we visit these days we stay in a hotel. The one we have settled on is a Holiday Inn about 20 minutes away. The setting is not the Ben Loyal, I have to say, but the friendly staff, amenities, and the coffee, make up for it. And in fact I got this lovely photo of storm clouds at sunset from our room window. The view is not fabulous otherwise, but we are not here as first timers either. We know that the beauty of the Ohio Valley is beyond the areas where most hotels are located. It is in the people and the farm country, bulging with fields of corn, soybeans and tobacco, brimming with birds and buzzing with bees at the height of summer. The smell of freshly cut grass and hay accentuates the scenery dotted with country houses and barns.
Country roads take me home…20130725-140707.jpgI’ve been sharing with you the most memorable sights and experiences of our current travels, but trying to decide what to share with you from our time in Ohio is the hardest so far. It’s difficult to keep perspective about things with which we are close. It doesn’t get much more difficult than trying to have perspective about the death of a parent. So it is with some trepidation and a great deal of soul searching I have selected this batch of photos from our visit to Ohio, and included some photos from a couple of days ago at the graveside service for our Dad.20130725-141203.jpgHe passed in February and we gathered for a memorial service then, but due to family circumstances the graveside service could not be carried out at that time. It’s all a bit abnormal I guess, but what is normal these days? I’ve never lost a parent before so I don’t know. I just try and do things as they seem right to me. Our Mother asked me to take photos at the ceremony and at first I was taken aback. But I always (!) do what my Mother tells me, so I took the photos. As usual she was right. The ceremony was short, about fifteen minutes, and in pouring rain. Were it not for the photos I might have wondered if it happened at all. Dad was in the army for five years and was awarded two bronze stars. The ceremony included an honour guard from the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), and twenty-one gun salute. It was an honour to witness. The leader of the guard presented a folded flag to Mom and it was a very emotional moment when he thanked her on behalf of a grateful nation. The smell of gun powder mingled with the rain, no doubt a familiar smell to those in the war. My aunt’s warm hand on my arm steadied me so I could take the photos.

20130725-153733.jpgThe reverend who spoke a few loving words was perhaps Dad’s best friend in life, and his admirer in life, as well as death. He saw in Dad many of the things Dad aspired to be. We all need at least one friend like that, someone who looks beneath the surface and into our heart.20130725-141345.jpgAfter the service all thirteen of us gathered at a local country restaurant for brunch. Open faced roast beef and mashed potato sandwiches smothered in gravy, hash brown potatoes with biscuit and sausage and egg smothered in sausage gravy, and pancakes were consumed with great relish. No, we don’t eat like this all the time, but once in a while and at the end of a lifetime, it is wonderful. 20130725-142133.jpg