Usually people would think that is a good thing, but in my case it was not.
It was a short week with long and trying days as I towered the city of Buffalo, New York. Today was my first day back at Ozarks after a week away. People came up to me asking me where I had been. I would respond with, "New York." They would then look at me as if I chose to take a vacation in the middle of the semester all the while saying, "Lucky you!" It wasn't until the third or forth person that I discovered that I should have led with, "Well, my grandpa passed away so I was in Buffalo, New York for his funeral."
So in another words, it was a short week. I arrived at 1:30am Thursday morning at The Lockport Inn and Suites to get a refreshing 5 hours of sleep before my alarm would wake me. After showering and putting on my face my Aunt Faye, Mom and I went to my Uncle Dan's house... the house that my Mom grew up in. We walked into the kitchen to see my aunt preparing to bake a pie (she never stops giving to people no matter what life throws her way). Now, my Uncle Dan and Aunt Marianne took care of my grandparents and lived in the same house as them until my grandma needed more assistance from a nursing home and my grandpa passed away. If anyone was having a hard time with everything that was going on, it was them.
Funeral arrangements were made and my mom and I went to see my grandma. She was doing okay under the circumstances. She's a very strong woman! We sat and listened to her stories and she talked about a book that she helped a man write. My mom and I just sat there trying not to cry, being strong for her.
At the visitation I saw a whole bunch of people that I didn't know, but they knew me. It was a little weird at first, but then I was okay. Just hearing the stories of how my grandpa affected their lives made my day so much easier. I think the weirdest part was seeing my grandpa laying in the casket. I say weird and not difficult for two reasons: 1) He might of looked peaceful, but I kept waiting for him to sit up and yell, "Boo!" It was weird not seeing him alive and my brain just couldn't comprehend why a perfectly 91 year-young man was taken from us. 2) Grandma wasn't with him. Grandma was at the visitation, but they weren't sitting next to each other holding hands. I kept thinking that grandpa was just laying there wanting to get out to hold his wife's hand! Weird.
The hard part came during the burial. The horn played and the flag was given to grandma. The funeral home director told us that he would take care of the rest and we were all dismissed. I looked at this beautiful casket knowing that my grandfather was inside and knowing that the next time I would visit this spot he would be six feet below me. I started to cry as my mom put her hand on the casket and said, "Goodbye Dad."
The next few days were spent catching up with family and seeing everyone after such a long time away from home. I got to spend one last time with my grandma and it was amazing. She taught me how to play Rummy and I think she might have let me win! She would keep picking up cards (which is not something you want to do in the game of rummy) and scanning the piles in front of her until she realized that her cards weren't useful. Her expression was "Oh fiddlesticks!" I looked at her and laughed as I began to realize that that was probably the last visit that I would have with her. It was her "Wedding Night advice", (another post will be written about this advice!) Bingo lottery ticket scratching skills, and her funny stories that made me want to stay and never leave! Grandma and Grandpa have these amazing stories and I get to tell them.
That one person was right though, I am lucky. I was lucky for the times that I got to see my grandma and grandpa. He was a funny man, loving man, wonderful man. And she is a beautiful woman, wise woman, and caring woman. When people kept coming up to me after hearing the news, they would say things like, "He's in a better place" or "He's no longer in pain" but my Grandpa gave me the most comfort when he told my Uncle Dan before he died: "When it's my time to go, it means God needs help fixing the pearly gates." That character in my grandpa will always be a part of me and I will never be able to thank him enough for the way he raised me through his wonderful daughter.
As much as I wished that my grandma and grandpa would die together as the couple in "The Notebook" did, I must realize the hardest thing yet. Life is not some perfectly written out novel, but it's a messed up masterpiece with a whole bunch of jumbled up cards, plays, and moves. Sometimes we just want to shout, "Oh fiddlesticks!", but my friends... we still have a chance to continue the plays that have been put out before us. Let's add to the piles and rejoice in the opportunities put in our path.
I love you Grandma and Grandpa. Your love story is so much more perfect than any Nicholas Sparks book I know!
|Grandma receiving the flag at the burial service|