Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On the Wings of a Dove

This post, presumably from it's title has become the most popular ever on this blog. If you've come here in search of a dove photo or perhaps looking for inspiration, take the time to look around. I think you might like it here, on The Bright Side of the Grave.....

Standing in the 85 degree, sun drenched cemetery wearing a black suit was not the issue. Somehow my highly polished black shoes seemed to absorb all the heat away from my body and manage to cook my feet to a crisp. It's been dry and hot here for over a week and everything is starting to get crispy. The cemetery grass is a lonely shade of brown with the exception of the occasional weed that seems to thrive in this sort of weather and is jutting high above the nicely kept lawn, waving in the breeze as though to stick it's nose up at the fragile state that the lawn has come to.
The minister went on and on. You could tell that everyone was getting weary. The Scottsman  tending to his bagpipes was standing under a tree in the distance wiping the sweat from his brow. The soldiers stood at attention in the hot summer sun awaiting their orders.
As I stood silently next to the hearse, I noticed the two turkey vultures circling above the cemetery. Just an hour before, we were joking that it would be terrible if a dove that we released was to get snatched up for some hawk's or vulture's lunch. The young man tending to the basket containing a single dove, also watched nervously.
As the minister finished his committal prayer, the Army Chaplin stepped up and began his speech. "Another soldier has been called by the great commander-in-chief" he called out. Just then one of the vultures made a swoop down toward the crowd gathered around the open grave. I overheard one woman say, "Isn't that cool that the Eagles are circling above". The tension is mounting with all of us that were working the service.
Just then the firing squad fires three rounds. The vultures disappear. Now's our chance.
While the bugle played Taps, we expedited the release of the lone dove, representing the release of this man, husband and father's spirit to heaven. The dove circled three times and then disappeared in the distance. As the American flag was presented to the widow, we witnessed the return of the vultures. The dove made it home safely! And there wasn't a dry eye in the whole cemetery as the casket was lowered and the bagpipes began to play again.
Do we know what we're doing or what.


Ms Sparrow said...

That worked out perfectly! I was really worried about the dove's chances and it would have been very upsetting to have the dove attacked right above the grave site. Having vultures hovering over the cemetery would be quite off-putting. It would be nice if you could arrange to have an honor guard discourage them on a regular basis!

That corgi :) said...

I was trying to figure out how the dove made its way back home, but I'm sure its trained to return to the cage? It does sound like a hot day to get buried in. I kind of like the military cemetery hubby's parents got married in; you got 30 minutes from start to finish to "get it done" so to speak because they were that busy, you were scheduled when it would be and regulated with the time. Well run operation though (didn't include graveside; there was a pavillion where you had the service and then they would transport the coffin to the plot afterwards before the next service).


Stew said...

I was saying the same thing; we need to have the vets out every time we release doves. Just to make sure.

Stew said...

The doves are very well trained. They always circle three times. This gives them a sense of where they are, then they head straight home.
The military cemeteries are very well orchestrated. And so beautiful too.

MorningAJ said...

Doves (specialist pigeons....) 'home' naturally. The only problem I have is that the specially bred white ones can't hide from things like turkey vultures because their colouring doesn't allow it, and they will be taken in preference to a wild bird.

I don't think releasing birds (or butterflies - another wild thing that gets used at such occasions) should be allowed at funerals and weddings. It's not really fair on the animals. I'm probably a lone voice, but campaigning against unfair and cruel use of animals is my job.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Whew! What a relief. Most people wouldn't even have thought of that and it would really have been awful. Talk about dark comedy!

Stew said...

I couldn't agree more. And that's why I was fearing for the dove's life. I felt sorry for it while the guns were going off trapped in that basket.
It helps me to think of the rabbit that I had for 8 years. I wanted him to run around the house and be happy. Turns out, he naturally wanted to hide in any corner he could find and chew on things. That's what they do. He could come and go from his "cage" whenever he wanted but generally felt safe and comfortable rolled up in a ball.
I also think of the horse that I had when I was young. Some would say it's cruel to ride them. But He wanted to be ridden. It made him feel important and gave him a way to interact with me. And he had his way of telling me he was done as well.
All that said, perhaps the doves like what they do. Perhaps.

Jim said...

We humans do have interesting rituals at our deaths.

sophie...^5 said...

Oh man Stew...I was on the edge...lovely vingette really...thanks for sharing. It makes me think in some strange way about my father's burial so many years ago...of course I didn't witness this but it makes me ponder!

Zaftig Diva said...

That's a new one for me - doves, but I haven't attended many funerals. My mother was buried in March this year, and I wanted to be present when they lower the casket. I thought that was the plan. Turns out, they have the to-do under the tent and everybody leaves. At my request, the funeral director carried the casket to the grave site.

My aunt felt like it was overwhelming to see the coffin lowered into the ground. I felt like it was part of letting go. Ritual.

Thank you for your perspective. Light and easy.