I posed the question a week or so ago asking how to best commemorate my grandfather’s passing in a tweet, knowing full well it could not be done. I tried to tweet a few memories, but knew that would not serve his memory right. And by now he is already long-buried, but this is my mostly futile attempt to do him justice…
My grandfather was a hard man. He did not love lightly and and it was hard to love him in return. Not being the favorite grandchild did not make it any easier. Nor did only seeing him once a year for a week in the summer help matters. He was my grandfather in a more theoretical sense, but that makes us no less flesh and blood.
Grandpa was a member of the Greatest Generation and it saddens me that with his passing there is one fewer of that group to lead us into an uncertain future. Familial circumstances prevented him from serving overseas during WWII (for which I am somewhat thankful), but just because he failed to storm Normandy makes him no less a hero and a part of why we are not speaking German or Japanese today.
It was hard seeing him in the casket. He looked old and shrunken. Yes, I know that’s fairly normal but I had last seen him two years prior for my cousin’s wedding. Then, while he still suffered from cancer, he was winning and looked his usual self. I choose to remember that man rather than the one in the casket. I choose to remember the man who travelled the world as a successful salesman, the man who climbed mountains with us in Colorado, the man who took us blueberry picking in Maine. I’ll remember climbing the trellis on his front lawn and the treehouse he built in the back yard. I’ll remember the black bags he used to bury in the woods (they had dead skunks in them if you must know). I’ll remember driving his tractor, the joy he showed at my wedding and upon meeting my son(s). I’ll always be thankful for his generosity that allowed me to travel through England and Scotland for two weeks after college. And so on and so forth. Forgive me for rambling, but he meant a lot of things to a lot of different people.
I will say I am thankful we nixed the idea of pallbearers as I had the sudden and extreme fear of re-enacting the funeral scene from Mouse Hunt. That did not excuse me from reading Psalm 90 during the service however. Funny how much harder that was than expected. At least the newest member of the family, one month old, provided some levity by snoring throughout the service and letting out a gargantuan burp at one point. Did seem a bit gauche to laugh through the funeral. Ah well, G’pa was already rolling in his grave at all the cars parked on his always well manicured lawn. What’s a li’l belch from one of his great-grandchildren gonna hurt?
All of us suffered through some of what I like to call allergies during the funeral home service, but it was full on fire hydrant once we arrived at the graveside. The gov’t ban on pseudophedrine made not a lick of difference. For me, the funeral service was more like a church service. It had a sense of the circumspect. Seeing grandpa buried with full military honors was far harder. Mind you, taps makes me emotional anyway as I can hear it from the local navy base every night. Knowing that it is your grandfather they are playing off? It takes on an entirely new and personal meaning.
And while we may disagree about the sitting President, I dare you to not show some emotion at hearing the words “On behalf of the President and a grateful nation…”as a uniformed officer of our United States Navy places the folded flag in the hands of a grieving wife.