Had a bit of a long weekend. Last week, we lost my grandfather. The funeral arrangements were this weekend, now back home afterwards. Over the last 36 hours, spent about nine on the highway. Fortunately, it was decent weather, and traffic was pretty light, so things went OK there.
Thinking I’m a little physically and mentally exhausted now. In my life thus far, I’ve been rather fortunate that I have not had to deal with very much close family passing away. The thing with that is that I’m never certain how I’m supposed to behave or what I’m supposed to feel. Perhaps that never changes.
Without being overly specific, I want to give kudos to the funeral home. They did a wonderful job on somewhat short notice to get everything together, and the services seemed to run seamlessly. One point I liked was they were able to take family photos and put everything together on a slide-show DVD which they had playing on a large-screen during the visitation and prior to the actual service. It was very nice to see many old pictures, and many familiar family portraits strung together. Of course, we all shared certain things we remembered, such as “Oh, that was taken here at our old place” and “Look at that cute baby, what happened, James Lee?”
I was also a bit moved by a local lodge that he had been a longtime member of. During visitation, the other members came and gave a short memorial ceremony for him. It was touching, and I thank them for their kind words.
I had been asked to be a pallbearer, which of course I accepted. I have never done that before, and was somewhat lost as to where I was supposed to be when, but again, the staff made sure things worked as they should. I was honored to have done that.
One almost funny point about it happened this morning. My wonderful wife got clothes together for me beforehand, seeing as how I am never ‘dressed up.’ Perhaps something I got from my grandfather, as at one point today I heard that to him, a clean pair of overalls and the nice boots was considered dressed up. In later years, I rarely remember seeing him in an actual tie, but instead a nice shirt with a bolo tie of some sort, with the shiny boots.
Those boots were the source of it this morning. During visitation, my uncle commented that he really would have liked to have his dad’s boots, but they just would not fit him. Asking what size I wore, turns out they were very close, and perhaps I could try them. Turned out, wasn’t a perfect fit, but wearable. Well, with the nice pants, shirt, tie, and jacket the wonderful MrsJamesLee had for me, along with the Navy dress uniform Bates Lites I still have, she got me put together in reasonable fashion, and I took the Beloved Lhasa out one last time before we left. As I’m bringing him in, I feel something funny, and wonder what I had stepped in. Upon examination, I discovered the heels of the Bates were literally disintegrating into dust.
Thinking that it looked like just the heels, we figured I could get through the day with it. Almost at the last second, we decided to grab those boots. After arriving, I stepped out of the vehicle, and discovered the rest of the soles were following close behind. So, the Nice Boots got to make one last appearance on behalf of my grandfather. I like to think he would have liked that.
In my early years, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They were good, simple people, working for what they had and happy to help others in need. I got to see a lot of old farming equipment, climb in the barns, and learn about caring for nature and the land, which of course my own parents continued. I remember many summers when the entire family would get together to help bring in the hay and things like that. My very young self could not easily move hay bales, but I sure liked climbing on the stacks that my Dad, Uncle, and cousins stacked up.
In later years, new jobs and new opportunities took most of the family away from the rural area we were in. Still in relative proximity, we would get together on holidays, hunting season, and the like. But, of course, there is never enough time any more to spend as much as you want with people you want to these days. Before you know it, the weeks and months have turned into another year, and the clock keeps ticking.
So here’s to you Granddad. I know you lived a wonderful life, and I hope to see you again one of these days.