Monday, March 16, 2009

My Grandfather's Funeral

I am relieved to report that my grandfather's funeral went well. It was a nice service complete with a photo montage, music, and memories. I got to see a glimpse of my grandfather when we first arrived as they had not yet closed the casket and he looked so peaceful. A woman that worked with my aunt even read a prayer in Portuguese since that was were my grandfather was from. He even had a Portuguese flag on his casket which was later placed in the casket with him. It was nice to honor his native language and birthplace. He would have liked that.

They mentioned his Donald Duck impression which made me smile. They spoke of how he never complained, even through all his treatments, he never complained. That is why, my aunt thinks, we never knew how fast he was leaving us because he never complained. They mentioned his love of fishing and the ocean and of the summers my dad spent with him on their lobster boat.

My aunt Tina, who is the youngest of my grandfather's children, and the one that probably spent most of the time with my grandpa in the nursing home and hospital, picked a very special song that described him time so perfectly. Its a song by Crystal Shawanda called "You Can Let Go Now Daddy" so I am posting the lyrics here so you can see what I mean. Its as if the song was written just for her about him. He was the one that taught her so much and walked her down the aisle and was she was there for him during the last days of his life, which she says felt like he knew it was his time but didn't want to go until he knew she was okay which she said to him the last night she saw him alive. How more perfect could this song be?

wind blowin in my face, sidewalk flyin beneath my bike
a five year olds first taste, of what freedoms really like
he was runnin right beside me, his hand on the seat
i took a breath and hollered, as i headed for the street
you can let go now daddy, you can let go
oh i think im ready, to do this on my own
its still a little bit scary, but i want you to know
i'll be okay now daddy, you can let go

i was standin at the alter, between the two loves of my life
to one i'd been a daughter, to one i soon would be a wife
when the preecher asked "who gives this girl?" daddy's eyes welled with tears
he held tightly to my arm, till i whispered in his ear

you can let go now daddy, you can let go
oh i think im ready, to do this on my own
its still a little bit scary, but i want you to know
i'll be okay now daddy, you can let go

it was killin me to see, the strongest man i ever knew
waistin away to nothin, in his hospital room
"you know he's only holdin on for you" thats what the night nurse said
me voice and heart were breaking, as i crawled into his bed
and said
you can let go now daddy, you can let go
your little girl is ready, to do this on her own
it will be a little bit scary, but i want you to know
ill be okay now daddy, you can let go
you can let go

If you wanna get all choked up you can hear the song here. Warning: do not listen without a box of tissues!

Shaylee was a complete angel through the whole thing. We were seated behind my parents who were in the first row so she was able to watch the photo montage which entertained her. At one point in the service, she stood up behind my father and patted him on the shoulder. It's as if she knew he was hurting and she wanted to comfort him even if she didn't understand what was going on. It was really sweet. After the service, my grandmother stayed in the lobby with Shaylee and entertained her so that Nils and I could join my family at the grave site. The family was seated under a tent and waited for the hearse to arrive. My aunts and cousins all got white long stem roses to place on the casket. My dad, uncles, brother, and male cousins were pallbearers. Everyone was dresses very nice and behaved themselves, even my grandmother...well, at the funeral at least.

One thing that kinda surprised me was how sentimental my younger brother can be. He is a very mellow guy, who shows very little emotion. In my entire life, I have never seen him lose his temper and as a teenager/adult have never seen him cry. I don't know if he teared up at the funeral or not but my mom told me something that choked me up, since it was so sentimental and sweet- my mom noticed my brother had a watch on and she asked him where he got it since he doesn't own a watch that we knew of. He said that our grandfather had given it to him when he first got sick. So my mom asked what time it was knowing that after the service we would be going to my aunts for dinner. He said "I don't know, it doesn't work." So she asked why he was wearing a watch that couldn't tell time and he said, "Cuz it was grandpa's." It was a quiet way to show that he cared. No one would have known had my mom not asked. That's so like my brother. He is not one that seeks out attention and I thought that the fact that he wore a broken watch just because it was something my grandfather had given him was very touching.

My grandmother was decent during the funeral services. When we returned to my aunt's house for dinner, she only made one remark that pissed everyone off and that was to say "Well, he is finally dead and buried." I would say this was shocking but coming from her this was normal. When she said this, everyone around her did exactly the opposite of what she was probably expecting. She probably expected everyone to make a big deal about it, to put the attention back on herself. But today was not her day. She WOULD NOT get the satisfaction to gain the attention she was after- today was for grandpa. So my cousin casually got up and went to talk with her fiance in the kitchen, everyone's conversation gravitated to happy memories of grandpa and my grandmother was left sitting there in her own self pity. We were all pleasant to her, as we respectfully should be to any widow, but we did not make a big deal reacting to her words or talking about her behavior-past and present.

Later that night, some family and our neighbors came over to our house to chat and have a few drinks. They sipped on Portuguese wine and moonshine that they called "Portuguese Bang Bang" or Bam Bam or whatever it was called. We all did a toast to my grandfather- honoring what a good man he was and the strength he had. It sealed the night and gave us all a feeling that he was in a better place and we could move on. The drama with my grandmother will probably continue but we jokingly and affectionately toasted my grandfather saying he was the lucky one that finally got away from it all!

Here's to you grandpa- I am sorry if we were not able to be closer but you will always have a special place in my heart.
Eu Te Amo
(Protuguese for "I Love You"

1 comment:

Neabear said...

This is beautiful. I am so glad the whole thing went better than expected. The words to the song are lovely. I pray that all of you are able to move on okay. That was cute of Shaylee to pat your dad like she did.