Today was a day of tears, fond memories, and looking forward. All because we put Grandpa to rest today. The day started with rushing around ensuring that all was ready for the 4pm funeral services. Cleaning my in-laws home, shopping for black dress shirts for my husband & son, making sure there would be enough food for the guests, etc.
Grandpa would’ve been touched by the more than 100 people that came to his funeral. He might have been an “old geezer”, but he was a friend to many. Relatives came from Iowa & Kansas. Former Marines came wearing pins, hats, and ensignias in respect. An Air Force Apache pilot came in his uniform. My father-in-law gave a beautiful eulogy full of stories and happy memories. Grandpa would’ve been touched indeed by the show of love. I can also almost hear him say: “What the hell is everyone crying about?!”
He was given full Marine honors of a 15-gun salute. That was amazing to see. My husband and I both lost it when the bugler started to play “Taps”. That hymn will forever remind me of Grandpa now. It was beautiful, but lonely too.
My husband has been trying so hard to “hold it together”. He loved his Grandpa so much. I have only seen my husband cry 2 times in our lives together: When our son was born, and when his Uncle passed away. Today was his 3rd time. I wanted so much to take away his pain. You could just see that his heart hurt. That feeling of losing something precious and knowing you will never get it back. Soul-wrenching pain. I hate that.
As I looked around at all the tear-stained faces, I came to a decision: I don’t want this when I die. I don’t. I don’t want a funeral, black clothing, and sobbing. I want people to say: “Shan was always silly. She always tried to make others laugh. She was helpful and loved with her whole heart. She was a good friend. She wanted to make people happy. Their happiness made her feel whole.”
I decided that when I die, I don’t want a funeral. I want to be cremated, and when I am delivered to the family, they can have a party. I don’t want any black clothing worn by anyone. I want hawaiian shirts and jeans. I want Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong playing in the background. I want mexican food or greasy burgers for everyone. I want people to talk about the stupid things I did, and how I made them laugh. I want to be remembered like that. Not with grief, but with life.
I know my husband was hurting when we went to my in-laws house after the funeral. Grandpa liked Scotch, so my husband bought a $50 bottle of Scotch. He rarely drinks, but tonight he did (and then some). After all the guests left, my father-in-law told me that my husband had drunk between 1/3-1/2 of the bottle. My husband looked green and promptly lost everything in his stomach. He did the same thing when his uncle died 5 yrs. ago. I guess that is one more way to show grief: Cause pain to yourself (i.e. getting drunk) to dull the pain.
After getting him home, into a hot shower, and into bed, I made him promise that he wouldn’t do that if I were to die early. I don’t like seeing people hurt themselves. Even when it is through grief. He promised. I sure hope he keeps it if that day ever comes. I hope that isn’t for about 40-50 yrs. though. I have quite a bit to do in this life still.
Grandpa, we will miss you. I know that under your tough shell, you were sweet and gentle. I am so glad that I knew you and that you knew your Great-Grandson. I promise that we will take care of Nana for you. Don’t you worry about her. She is a spunky girl. Although she misses you terribly, she has family that will care for her for a long, long time. We love you and always will. xoxoxo