Sunday, April 14, 2013

In Loving Memory...

Yesterday was my grandpa's "celebration of life" service. I wish the pictures were on my work computer so I could share some with you, but that will have to wait for another time. Tonight I'd just like to process it all out.

The day started with a yummy breakfast feast from Mums. Our cousins from over the mountains had come over Friday night and spent the night on our air mattress so they could attend the service. My aunt came to the house and drove Grandma to the church. We picked up Sister E from MCs. Sister J got a haircut. We were all running around the house getting dressed and borrowing jewelry and curling each other's hair, and you know how it is with sisters- we love getting dressed up together! It's fun to "get beautiful" together, although sometimes you just want to have the bathroom to yourself for just ten seconds! But really, it's fun. But there was this dimension of solemnity also, that we weren't getting dressed up to go out on the town; we were getting dressed up because we were going to be speaking at a funeral, basically. We were getting dressed up because my grandpa is in Heaven.

I'm so, so grateful that I get to see Grandpa again. There's no way to describe the peace that is within me, and that's good, because Jesus promised us peace that surpasses understanding, and He has been so faithful to provide that. What I'm describing here is just the atmosphere as we were getting ready. There was excitement, some laughter and teasing, and some grief because we miss Grandpa, but also peace, because he is in a much better place and we don't wish him back to earth. It was just different, and it was good.

We got all ready and then we drove to the church. It's only 10 minutes away, if you hit all 3 red lights. Seriously. So we get there, and our dear family friend Laurie has organized lunch for the family, a lot of whom were already there. It was weird to see these people, mainly because we hadn't seen them for at least 5 years. Thankfully, I knew most of their faces from the slideshow I had put together, and since Grandma had identified them to me for the slideshow, my sisters made me go first and say hello. What a good older sister I am. :)

After lunch, my sisters and I snuck into an empty part of the church to practice our speech. We were doing it all at once, popcorn-style, and we wanted to work on our transitions. I think we were all nervous, because we laughed more than we spoke. Somehow we got through it and were able to join the rest of the family and start welcoming guests.

Up to this point, it seemed very surreal. People would come in, hug us, ask how we were doing, and give their regards or say something sweet, and we would respond with "thank you" and "glad you came" and things like that, and then I would think, this is what people say when they've lost someone...I am the person who has lost someone... and it felt very strange.

It was not until we were sitting in the front row of the sanctuary and the pastor started speaking about Grandpa that it really, truly hit me, and I think it hit my sisters too, because all of a sudden there was a pile of used tissues between E and me, and there was more sniffing down the row.

My grandma wrote a letter of sorts, and my mom read it for her. Thankfully I had heard it before, so I was prepared and could make eye contact with Mom as she read. It was so well done, and I'm glad that people could have that understanding of Grandpa's life before the rest of the people spoke.

My dad was next, and this part was surreal again, because my brain couldn't reconcile the fact that my grandpa had died, which meant my dad had lost his dad. I cannot imagine losing my dad, so I think there was still shock or denial going on inside me while Dad spoke. But he spoke so well, and he made people laugh and cry, which is good at Life Celebrations.

My cousin spoke about Grandpa's generosity, which is funny because that was one of the themes my sisters and I found when we were preparing our speech. When it was our turn, we were all composed and doing good, and it all went smoothly except when J started to speak about how Grandpa made everyone feel special and was so giving to everyone...she cried, and she did it gracefully, and I think it brought reality to everyone, because my sisters and I are used to public speaking, so we were all prepared and composed and it was almost easy to forget that we were doing this because Grandpa was gone from us, but her tears reminded everyone that we are all grieving and that even while we shared funny stories or great memories, it hurts! It hurts like hell, and it was a miracle that we all got through it so composedly.

After we shared, most of my tears dried up. There were a few shed when Grandpa's best friend Roy shared and he had to wipe his eyes, and then when we ended with Matt Redmon's song "10,000 Reasons" because this song now has three teary times associated with it. But anyway, the service was completely beautiful and wonderful, and people were so nice, and we came home with literally bags of food that we will have to freeze because there is so much!

I shared my funny Grandpa story on Friday, and now I want to share the story that Sister P shared.
We were at Sunrise for dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, and we asked Grandpa "Do you want water or juice to drink?"
He replied, "Water is for bathing and putting out fires. I want juice!"
The best part of this story is that Grandpa never drank water even before Alzheimer's. He always preferred milk or cocoa or juice, but never water. Too funny, especially considering my love for water...obviously not from that side of the family!

Anyway, the service was great, and my family talked about it and prayed together afterwards, and we recognized that this was some good closure and our hearts are healing and we've had time to grieve and we're doing good. I'm so grateful that everything went smoothly and that there were laughs as wells as tears, and that Jesus was honored through my grandpa's life. That's the point, after all.