This post was written on March 27, 2008, but I reread it again tonight, and wept anew at how desperately I love my Grandpa.
I had such a wonderful time at Grandpa’s funeral, with no kids to chase, and my whole family (minus one brother who couldn’t make it) to play with. We all crammed into the house on Cherry Lane, with some of us on the floor, some on couches. There was movie watching (Rubin and Ed) and Mexican cooking, and everybody waiting for Grandpa to come out of his bedroom and ask if anybody wanted any ice cream.
I had been very emotional about not getting to see Grandpa again, but those who were there said that he had woken one last time when they were discussing my plans to come the next day. In a very egocentric way, I love that he was excited to see me again, and that he responded to my name. The people who were present told him that I was trying my best to get there, and that I loved him. He died about an hour later, after slipping back into sleep.
My wonderful little brother sat with Grandpa for hours that day, holding his hand and listening to his breathing. He noticed the change, and called everyone in when it was time. After Grandpa died, and nobody knew what to do, my other younger brother went and built a fire in the fireplace because that’s what Grandpa always did when people came over, even if it was 80 degrees inside. My cousin wore one of Grandpa’s bolo ties to the funeral.
On Thursday night, we all went to the viewing. I knew we were going. We went straight from the airport to Provo. I was feeling terrible from the trip, so I had gone running. We had had dinner with the family, then headed to the mortuary together. I was happy to be with my family. Even my mom was there, and she and dad were talking (not something that happened often while they were married). Grandpa’s two living siblings were there, some neighbors came, and some of Grandpa’s second and third wives’ families came.
I was standing around with my brothers and cousins watching the slide show when I turned around and glimpsed the casket, which I hadn’t yet noticed. I was accosted with the realization that Grandpa was dead, and that his body, his shell, lay in the adjoining room. I saw the crown of his forehead, and his wispy white hair. Almost in a swoon, I fled outside to weep. Though I had known, intellectually, that I was at his viewing, I hadn’t processed the connection with him actually being there, to see. I was desperately sad.
I went back in with determination to face the mortal remains of my sweet Grandpa. As I stood over the casket, I noted his waxy, yellow-orange skin. His eyelids, wrinkled and painted, were no longer translucent, as I remembered them. His hands were folded, and they were familiar, yet foreign, their position and color contrived. His glasses seemed oddly large.
My youngest brother approached me silently. We stood for a moment, then moved into the other room, still with the casket in full view. We talked briefly about how the body there resembled our Grandpa, but wasn’t him. It was his leftovers. It was comforting to me to know that he wasn’t in there anymore. I have no firm beliefs about where Grandpa might be now, but I know he’s not in that aged, frail body anymore. As much as he enjoyed his life, Grandpa was ready to part with it.