My grandpa’s funeral was today.
It was a small service, only close friends and family. There wasn’t even an obituary.
I played the violin and there was a short sermon type talk given by the minister of the church my grandparents attended.
He had a military send off at the graveyard. Closed casket with an American flag draped over the top. Soldiers from Fort Knox played taps, saluted, and folded his flag for my grandma. It was very poignant. I could tell my grandma treasured the flag.
They were married for 59 years.
My grandpa had been sick for the past five years, since he had a bad fall when Rosie was a baby. He had reoccurring pneumonia, diabetes, and he didn’t make enough red blood cells for some unknown reason. Every year he just got weaker and weaker. I know that he wasn’t happy with his reduced quality of life. This past year everything was a struggle for him, even getting enough oxygen. Swallowing had recently become difficult and painful.
This past weekend he was in the hospital because he had a pneumonia again. He suddenly decided to stop the treatment and asked to be sedated until he died in his sleep. He was just too tired.
I didn’t realize that was going to happen. I didn’t expect him to die now. Sometime soon maybe, but not suddenly right this very second. I never got a chance to say goodbye to him before he was sedated.
I went to the hospital that afternoon and he sedation was wearing off. When I touched his hand he opened his eyes and looked right at me. He tried to speak but just coughed instead. I wonder what he wanted to say.
He’s not suffering anymore, and I am thankful for that. But I’m sad I never really got to say goodbye to him. I never got to talk to him one last time.
The last time I visited him was before we went to the beach. I brought Ada over to his house while Rosie was at dance class. My grandparents live around the corner from us. My grandma was out running errands so I snuck our newly hatched baby ducks into the house for him to see. He used to raise ducks and loved to talk about them. He was so pleased to see the ducklings. I promised to come back later with Rosie, but I never got time with the weddings I was photographing and the trip to the beach.
He was in the hospital for a few days and I wanted to go visit but didn’t have anyone to watch the girls (they weren’t allowed in due to age limits) and then I had another wedding to photograph, and suddenly it was too late to talk to him because he was sedated.
I visited him on Monday when he sedation was wearing off. That evening he was moved to the hospice floor of the hospital and given the strongest sedative and painkiller they have.
During the night I had one of those distinct dreams, the ones with strong realistic emotions that are often more than just random dreams.
I was a small child. I felt light, and it was warm, and I was happy. I was somewhere white with filtered light, like I was wrapped in laundry outside, inside of a big white sheet. It even smelled sweet and clean, just like laundry dried in the sun. There was a feeling of pleasure–it was truly like being a little kid on the most perfectly warm summer day, the pleasure of being outside with the warm sun on your skin, and biting into the sweetest juicy ripe peach.
It was a short dream. Only a snapshot of feelings.
I woke up and thought that my grandpa had died. Rosie was allowed to go on the hospice floor, so we went there first thing in the morning. He was still breathing, but I’m certain he was no longer present inside of his body.
He’s somewhere happy now.
Heaven must be like being a small child on a beautiful summer day. I wonder if everyone becomes a child when they die.
Rosie is very sad that he died. This was the first relative she’s ever lost, and the first funeral she’s ever been to.
She had trouble understanding that he was no longer inside of his body. I explained it to her and she seemed to understand, but when we got to the church for the funeral service she was upset that he was in the closed coffin covered by a flag. She wanted to know if he was ok, if he liked being all covered up like that. I reminded her that he wasn’t inside of his body any longer and she seemed reassured.
Even Ada was miraculously well behaved for the most part. I told her I was going to play the violin for everyone and so she had to be super quiet. Ada *loves* when I play the violin, so she was quick to obey.
Tyler was a pall bearer. My grandpa liked Tyler.
This still seems somewhat surreal. We would always stop by their house around the block and my grandpa would always be there making silly noises at the kids to make them laugh. Asking me questions about how life is going.
I spent so much time with him growing up. One summer when I was in middle school we researched our whole family tree together. We used to go on mile long walks around the tiny town where he lived before moving closer to the doctors, near me.
I used to spend the night at their house when I was a kid and he would wake up very early to make a huge breakfast–sausage, homemade waffles, homemade whipped cream to go on top, and squeezable butter which I used to think was AMAZING because my mom would never buy it.
He loved music, especially musicals. My middle name is Katherine and he liked to call me Kate. He would always greet me by saying, “Kiss me Kate!” Then he would whistle the tune from the musical and instead of Tom, Dick, or Harry he would say “Call me John” because his name was Johnny. Even as a little kid before I understood that Kiss Me Kate was a musical this was always our own private little greeting.
My grandpa also loved taking pictures. When I was a kid, and even just a few months ago, we would spend hours going through his photo albums together. I could look at pictures all day and listen to him talk about them. The last album we looked at together was of pictures he took on his senior class trip to Washington DC.
Now…what? I guess there will be a new normal. One without him. It’s just so weird to think that I’ll never visit with him again.
I wasn’t ready for this yet.
These are the songs I played at the funeral–I made some mistakes when I was recording them last night to see how terrible I sounded, but oh well. iPhone is not the best recording device either.
The song Stardust because whenever I played that on the piano my grandpa would whistle along and dance with my grandma.
And then a few other songs he liked, and a couple of hymns–
And there are only six days left until the 31st when the money for Anna’s hosting fees are due. We still need $1,261.