Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Salute to Sonny

I'm a little drained right now. I've just returned from the funeral of my great-uncle Clare "Sonny" Ashton. In my family, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, we all keep up with each other. I traveled frequently with my grandparents to Sonny and Sue's (my grandpa's youngest sister) small hold black Angus farm and spent the day fishing, eating steak, and sitting on the back deck chatting. Hummingbirds flocked to his feeders by the 20's and Eastern bluebirds perched in the trees singing songs. It was a lovely, peaceful place.


He had a handlebar mustache. How wonderful is that?

Sonny was a great big man with an even bigger heart. He had a belly laugh that made you smile and was rotten to the core. His smile was bright, his compassion filled a room. He gave great hugs - you'd get lost in uncle Sonny. He didn't like to fish, but he would take me on hayrides around his property to dry creek beds to look for arrow heads and fossils and just to give me a thrill when we hit a big bump.


Sonny was a firefighter for 25 years, eventually becoming fire chief of Upper Arlington here in Ohio. He served as a police officer for another 20, and then "retired" to his small hold farm in Vinton County, OH. He was a lifelong Shriner and was passionate about helping the Shriner children.

The funeral was nice. It was a blur. The pastor said something about how time does not heal all wounds because there will always be something to remind us of those that we love who have left us. Which opened the floodgates about my grandparents. I've said it before, but I Miss my grandparents. Very, very much.


The motorcade to the cemetery was amazing. We passed two fire stations (including Sonny's old station), and all of the fire trucks and ambulances were pulled out with lights and sirens on, fireman standing at a salute. Throughout the drive, firetrucks drove by with the firemen in full salute on the trucks. Police officers who weren't part of the motorcade knew about the funeral, set themselves up at intersections, blocked the traffic, and stood at salute. Upon entering the cemetery, a firetruck had it's ladder extended over the motorcade with an American flag hanging down. Firemen stood in a straight line in full dress uniform at salute. I cried the whole time. All this for my uncle Sonny. People are good.


A bag piper played "Going Home" as the casket went to the grave site. The mood was solemn, but not entirely sad. Taps was played by the Navy contingent. The flag was presented to aunt Sue, who I noticed for the first time that day looked a little lost. They'd known each other since they were teenagers.

Sonny had lived a full life, a wonderful life. He was my friend, a part of life with my grandparents. I will miss him and most likely cry more tears. But I will be joyful because my Great uncle, the man of the fullest heart and generous spirit, has finally gone home.


All photos found via Google Photos (except for Sonny, of course)


Jodi said...

I'm sorry about your Uncle Sonny. It sounds he was a wonderful man in your life. I hope you can take comfort in all of the very good times you spent with him.

Thanks for following my blog today. I'm following you back :)


Random WAHM Thoughts said...

hi erin! this is such a wonderful post tribute for your great uncle. the world is one less wonderful man without him.

dropping by here to follow you back from FMBT :)

Unknown said...

Sorry about your Uncle!

Thank you for following my blog! I'm following you back :o)


Stacey @ Chasing Cloud 9 said...

I'm sorry for your loss. It looks like the ceremony was a wonderful tribute to him.

Thanks for following me...now following back :)

stringsofpurls said...

I'm sorry for your loss. A wonderful post in his honor.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your Uncle, it's always hard to lose someone that was a big part of your life. My thoughts to you and your family.

Chasity said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. There is no word for that flag except AMAZING.

Yenta Mary said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It certainly sounds as though Sonny touched a great many souls ....

Teachinfourth said...

What a wonderful tribute to a man who served others.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Katina said...

Following you! Thanks for visiting PEaceful Divas. Great post about your Uncle! What a wonderful tribute!

Naturally Creative Mama said...

He sounds like a really great guy!

Stopping by from welcome wednesday.

janjan said...

Hi! sorry to hear about your uncle. I'm sure he's happy wherever he is right now.

Thanks btw for dropping by my blog and for the follow. following you too now! :)

~Rachel~ said...

What a great tribute post to your Great Uncle!
I love your blog and I am following you back!
Thank you for checking out my blog...stop by often! :-)

Emily said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. He truly left a beautiful mark on this world.

lori said...

oh.....I'm so sorry for the loss of Sonny in this world. What a wonderful person, and how touching that there was such an enormous presence for his funeral. Those old sad places do stay with us; I still miss Big Daddy, my beloved grandfather, who died in 1971. I wish you great comfort, Erin.

Amy said...

Sorry about your Uncle Sonny. He sounds like a truly amazing man! Following you from Welcome Wednesday. Please follow me back!

The Thrifty Thumb

Unknown said...

Thanks for the follow. Im following you back.

furygirl3132 said...

Condolences to you and your family on the passing of your Uncle Sonny, sounds like a beautiful service and tribute to him. Thanks for sharing such a great post.
I am a new follower from Welcome Wednesday, so glad to have found your blog. Hope you have a beautiful day!


cheri said...

so sorry for your loss. the funeral, based on your descriptions, was beautiful. perfect for a man like your uncle sonny. obviously, the whole town loved him...

Neccie @ Dizzy Daisy said...

what a beautiful post for your uncle. may he rest in peace and watch over your family. I am a new follower from welcome wednesday.

feel free to check me out at:

Unknown said...

Such a lovely tribute!

Just wanted to say thank you so much for participating in Welcome Wednesday on our Take It From Me blog! You can help spread the word about our great event by grabbing our button! We hope to see you again next week.

Kristin & Jaime
Take It From Me

Manda said...

My deepest condolences...
It is lovely that you paid tribute to him in this way.
Big Hugs,

casey aubut said...

I am your newest follower from Welcome WEdnesday!

Would love for you to stop by mine too!
Cassandra @ www.aubutfamily.com

Elana Kahn said...

I'm your newest Welcome Wednesday follower!


beingzaraandzidan said...

ooo i love ur blog & I am here to follow u & hope u do too as its fun to make new bloggy friends

Christy said...

I'm following from WW. This is a really beautiful tribute to your uncle. There are no words that heal the hurts when people pass, but I'm so glad he filled your life with so many memories you can share and pass on in his honor!

chantelle said...

i'm terribly saddened to hear of your lost, although this is a marvellous post :) your farm sounds amazing! Sonny certainly had a fabulous life, may he rest in peace ♥

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