photo lifted from my Aunt Nancy’s Facebook feed
The most unexpected thing about my Granddad’s memorial service/celebration of life/[insert ostensibly uplifting euphemism for “funeral” of your choice here] was that it really was uplifting.
Granddad is the first Important Person in my life who has died. I’m 32 years old, and I realize exactly how unbelievable that is. I didn’t know what to expect from the experience of celebrating his memory, and I haven’t really known what to say about it. It feels wrong, somehow, to say this, but… I found the whole thing pretty amazing and wonderful. It was incredible to meet so many people who said, “your Granddad was one of my favorite people.” It was surprisingly fun having my entire extended family in one place, for the expressed purpose of spending time together. I’m the farthest away by a wide margin, and have been for fourteen years. It’s amazing how much we’ve all changed (and stayed the same) during that time. It’s especially gratifying spending time with all of my cousins. We’ve all turned out, in my humble opinion, to be pretty cool people.
After the service, we gathered out in front of the church. My Grandmom and Granddad attended this church for decades. It was a beautiful day. The dogwoods were blooming, the humidity hadn’t yet reached sauna levels, and there was a soft breeze. My parents, aunts, and uncles had compiled a selection of photographs for the post-service visitation. One of them was a family portrait that was taken about 10-12 years ago, and which hung in my grandparents’ various homes until only a few months ago. We gathered ourselves on the steps in the same configuration, recruited a passerby to wield the camera, and took this photo. I love it. He would have loved it. He would have loved the entire celebration.
We aren’t all the first man on the moon, we don’t all invent penicillin or write a piece of music that anyone can recognize by ear. But we can all leave the world a better place than it was when we entered it. My grandparents were (and are) amazing people, who touched an untold number of lives over the years. And they left us behind to carry on their legacy. I’m so glad to be a part of it all.