Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A good farewell

We buried my Grandfather three days ago, on Saturday, and the emotional hangover is just starting to abate.

It was a beautiful ceremony. It took place at the graveside on our family plot at the local Memorial Park, the sunlight dappled through the trees overhead with a light breeze offering respite from the hot Californian summer. I've been to very few funerals in my life thus far so I don't have a lot to compare it to, but regardless, this one felt very special for all kinds of reasons.

The mourners were made up of family, friends and neighbors, all of whom had many special memories to share about my Grandfather and kind words to give.  The pastor knew both of my grandparents well, having grown up just two doors down from our family home, and so was able to give a deeply personal and moving sermon which avoided being overly religious - my Grandfather, despite being a spiritual man who had a strong interest in theology, did not adhere to any particular brand of organized religion. My three cousins and I acted as pallbearers, a role I was very proud to be able to fulfill. Many of the mourners, not just family members, got up when invited to share their own loving recollections of Grandpa.

Although my Grandfather had served with the U.S. Air Force we hadn't really considered that he would be due military honors in burial, but it was obviously meant to be as we received a call a couple of days before the funeral from the US Military offering an honor guard and all the official trimmings (they'd seen Grandpa's obituary in the local paper). We accepted with gratitude. The presence of the soldiers in full dress uniform standing to attention at the side of the coffin, the three-gun salute and the folding of the flag moved me more than I could have expected. And when my cousin, a talented violinist, played a haunting rendition of 'Taps', there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

The only jarring moment was delivered by yours truly. There I was, behind the podium, halfway through my eulogy and trying to keep my tears at bay for long enough to be coherent, when a rogue gust of wind picked up my notes and blew them away. Imagine me, scrabbling behind my Grandfather's coffin trying to retrieve my sheet of paper whilst the assembled mourners looked on in bewilderment.... elegant, not.

But despite my inadvertent efforts to inject an element of slapstick to a solemn occasion, it was a good day. Sad yet also joyful, deeply moving yet with moments of levity and most of all, filled with boundless love and affection -  a fitting tribute to a wonderful man. 


Anonymous said...

At least you didn't forget your notes as I did for my mother's funeral!

expatmammy said...

He's sound like he was avery special man who wasn't short of people who loved him. I sure your eulogy was beautiful and heart as this post is. Thinking of you KS

Kate S. said...

Thanks expatmammy.

Anon - *winces* oh :-)