I haven't been to that cemetery since the unveiling, which would be six years ago. It's a longish drive, and, despite the name (Floral Park), it's a fairly dreary place. Many cemeteries are pretty, with trees and shrubbery and landscaping. This one isn't. And, I have maintained, my father isn't *there*. There's a box there, and a body in it, and a headstone with his name and dates on it (in Hebrew and English) - we bought that headstone. We bought the plot next to his, too, for my mother, but this plot doesn't permit double headstones, so nothing is there. But Daddy? No.
But, there's still honoring to be done and his yarzheit* was two weeks ago, and, well, it was past time. So, we rented a car and we went. And I stood by his grave and I said several psalms and patted the headstone and placed stones upon it - we had a minor custom clash. My family places the stones as we leave; his places them when they arrive. *Shrug*
And I left. Maybe it was fighting the wind - this cemetery had no windbreaks. I had to hold on to my headscarf, my coat tried to imitate a cape and it was cold. Maybe it was other factors. But I really didn't feel much of anything there.
I miss my father very much. It's not sharp anymore, of course, but he was a remarkable man with a brilliant, caustic wit. We didn't always get along, but I was always daddy's girl. He adored my mother, too. And I think he'd be proud of the things I've done.
Every time I light a yarhzeit candle**, and every time I say yizkor***, and all day on Simchat Torah, which is his actual yarzheit, I talk to him. I feel him there, I feel the connection to him. He's still a part of who I am. He's still a part of all of us.
And I know I made my mom and her boyfriend happy. (Sidenote: I love Lenny. He's a sweet, wonderful man who also adores my mother. He's not my father. No one is - my younger brother is the closest we have now. But he and Mom are good for each other. Odd bit - his late wife is buried in the same cemetery as my father, but in a different area. They drive up there together to pay their visits. Lenny has one of those double stones, but his side is (thankfully) blank.) So that by itself made the trip worth it.
But my father? Wasn't there.
* Yarzheit= Hebrew anniversary of a death
**yarzheit candles - candles in glasses or little cans, designed to burn for at least 25 hours, traditionally lit on each yarzheit plus on each day we say yizkor. Also useful in blackouts and the glasses used to be used as measuring cups.
***yizkor - a memorial service done in remembrance of the dead. This is performed on certain holidays - the last day of Pesach, the second day of Shavuot (in Israel, the only day of Shavuot), Yom Kippur and Shemini Atzeret, which is either day before Simchat Torah or the day of Simchat Torah, depending if one is in Israel or not. Traditionally, those with two living parents leave the sanctuary during this service.