Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Estranged Parent's Journey in Life & Death: Part VI - Lessons Learned

There are lessons to be learned from the death of an estranged parent. Here are some that come to mind:

1. Even if they remove themselves from your life ... you never forget them.
2. Whether or not they acknowledge your existence ... you remain their child.
3. Even if they tell you everything is taken care of ... insist on proof.
4. Remember what type of friends they had before they became estranged ... they rarely change.
5. Family has a right to bury an estranged parent ... it aids in closure.

During this ordeal, we found out that his "friends" had claimed to be his only living relatives at the morgue, rummaged through his home within 24 hours of his death, collected all of his personal papers and photographs, paid for his cremation and asked for reimbursement from his children (knowing full well the government was going to pay them back), lied about his having life insurance, and had the nerve to request his burial flag be given to them after it had been presented to our family in his honor.

Arthur Neal Watkins was survived by 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. The definition of all of these people is family.

As his immediate family we were fortunate enough for him to have been a military veteran. His twenty years in the Marine Corps afforded him a proper and fitting burial. My brother requested the VA put the following on his marker ...

Arthur Neal Watkins
August 26, 1932 - October 28, 2007
Vietnam Veteran
"A Man Proud To Have Served His Country"

Related Posts: Part I - Notification, Part II - Reactions, Part III - Discovery, Part IV - A Full Military Honors Ceremony,
Part V - The Ceremony & Update from Biloxi, Part VI - Lessons Learned

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