Every year I visit my father to put a Christmas wreath on his grave stone. Even though my mom is alive, I've usually undertaken the task alone so as to minimize the sadness that goes along with the task. It's easier to simply do it alone, pay respects, and then provide my mom with a photo. Anyhow, this time around I decided to invite my mom along. Together we tried to keep things upbeat and then it got strange and kind of cool.
My father is buried in a cemetery in Leesburg, Virginia. The cemetery has been around for a couple of hundred years and through an odd series of events my father was buried in a plot located in the old part of the cemetery. He's literally surrounded by civil war Union veterans - kind of ironic for a man born and raised in Alabama.
We got out there on a surprisingly warm and sunny Friday morning. There was nobody around the place except for the two of us so it was extremely peaceful and quiet - exactly what you'd hope for when visiting a cemetery. As we were tying the wreath to grave stone there was a loud fluttering sound and something literally swooped by us. I was startled, unsure what it was, but as I looked around, less than twenty feet away sat a large hawk (at least I think it was a hawk). The majestic bird had settled on a grave stone literally right next to where we were and didn't seem to have any fear of us. In fact, the bird let me walk right up to it in order to take a photo. For the next ten minutes we stared at the bird and the bird stared at us. Eventually we went back to doing what we'd come there to do, tying the wreath on to the stone; saying our silent prayers; snapping a couple of photos. When we turned around to say goodbye to the bird, it was gone. I didn't even hear it leave.
It was kind of unsettling, but also kind of comforting ... Happy Holidays to all.
postscript - So I mentioned the episode to my wife and showed he the photos. She laughed and pointed out to me the fact my mother is pretty small and happened to me wearing a fur jacket when we were out there. She half jokingly suggested the hawk spied my mom and thought she would be a quick snack ... might be right.