Regular visitors to our blog know that my grandfather passed away last week. It is still very fresh in my mind, and I’m still very emotional, so I can’t say much, but I will try and touch on a few of the events of the past few days.
We went to Idaho Thursday afternoon so that I could attend the viewing that evening. Holly stayed at the hotel with the kids so that they could swim. As I was leaving for the viewing, I ran into my dad and Emmy so I helped them get settled in their room. As I was attempting to leave again, I ran into Santa Claus. (The Marriott employees were having their Christmas party and he was in attendance.) I asked him if he could say hi to the kids in the pool which he was more than happy to do. (Remember, he’s Santa so he loves kids.) By this time, I had been trying to bring myself to leave for about 30 minutes. It started to become obvious that I was looking for any reason to delay my going to the viewing.
When I finally arrived at the viewing, I spent a few minutes outside talking with my uncle and a few cousins. It was nice to see them and take some time catching up. Again though, I was stalling. I eventually dragged myself out of the freezing weather and went inside where I visited with a lot of family and people that I don’t know but know me.
After the viewing, we all went over to Grandpa’s house where we snacked on pizza and a meat and cheese tray. I enjoyed visiting with loved ones and it provided a nice distraction from the reason that we were all together.
When I got back to the hotel, the kids and Holly were all in bed. I had been standing all evening and my back was killing me so I went down to the pool to sit in the hot tub. One of my aunts and a bunch of cousins were already there so we visited some more, again providing a nice distraction.
Friday was the day of the funeral and all of my emotions started pouring out once we reached the church. Emma just stared at me as I sat there crying. I don’t think that she knew that I had so many tears in me. Every time that I thought I had myself under control, somebody would say something new that would start the tears all over again. I must have gone through a dozen tissues during the services.
Grandpa served in the Pacific during World War II as a member of the 11th Airborne Division. Because of his faithful service to his country, he was given military rites at the end of the funeral services, complete with a 21-gun salute. As the soldier presented the U.S. flag to his wife, Melba, I lost it and the tears started flowing again. This time though, they were more tears of pride than they were tears of sadness. Knowing that Grandpa deserved that kind of honor was very special to me. The tears changed back to those of sadness though as a bugler started playing Taps. I’ve heard that song countless times but it’s never meant anything to me. It does now.
I was asked to be a pall bearer which was very humbling and I will always look back on the moment that I helped carry Grandpa’s casket as very special. To think that I was asked to participate in the funeral of a man of such high caliber means that I have some pretty big shoes to fill to be worthy of such an honor.
That evening, everyone went out for dinner. The waiter just about had a heart attack when he asked “how many” and was told “I think there’s 23 of us.” Again, it was nice to visit with loved ones and I think that everybody enjoyed themselves.
Saturday morning we all checked out of the hotel and headed to Driggs for the graveside service. We were very blessed that the roads were clear and we made it to the cemetary without serious incident. (Note for those not familiar with Idaho dirt roads: there are ditches on both sides. Just because the wind has blown the snow so that everything looks flat doesn’t mean that the ditches aren’t still there. No, I didn’t drive into a ditch.)
My emotions were more in check at the cemetary than they were the day before. That may have had something to do with the fact that it was 9 degrees with a very stiff, very cold wind. My body knew that if I cried, my eyes would probably freeze shut. It was a very brief service, thanks in part to the cold, but it served its purpose. Again, I was very honored to be able to help carry the casket to its final resting place.
The drive home was uneventful. We were surrounded on all sides by snow storms but didn’t really see any snow until we reached Brigham City where the freeway was closed due to accidents. Fortunately though, the snow had mostly passed so our drive home was not too bad.
I have a lot more thoughts and feelings regarding all of this but things are still too fresh to be able to share yet. Maybe as time goes on I can write my thoughts about the impact that Grandpa had on my life but for now, I’m going to keep most of them to myself.