Monday, April 13, 2009

Grandpa's Funeral

Last Thursday, we headed for Pendleton, Oregon for the weekend. Though it was Easter weekend, we were there for the purpose of my Grandpa's funeral.

What a fitting weekend for his funeral to be though.

We arrived to find my Mom and Grandma in good spirits. My Mom had been with her all week - helping to prepare for the funeral and help my Grandma get her affairs in order.

I was, at first, not ready to accept this "peace" that they seemed to have in their souls. I needed to know more about the details of my Grandpa's death so that I could put my mind at rest.

My Grandma told me exactly what happened as Grandpa suffered an asthma attack, took him to the hospital, him passing out in the car on the way, and then the medics trying to revive him for 20 minutes to no avail. And then the doctor coming out to tell her they couldn't revive him. She was shocked.

I asked her if she was doing okay, and she told me how surprised she has been at the peace she has felt. She was holding it together so well.

On Friday, the rest of our family arrived. My Dad, all of my brothers, my mom's cousins, my Grandpa's siblings, great aunts and uncles, and friends. It was also the first time that our immediate family had all been together in a very long time.

Back row: My older brother Mike, his wife Emmy, Will and Preston, Me, my youngest brother Stephen (his wife and daughter could not come), my younger brother Shaun, my Dad, Middle row: My Mom, Grandma Lindsay, and Aunt Leslie (My mom's sister) Front row: Michael's kids - Elena, Alexander, and James.

On Friday night, my Dad, Mom, Grandma, Aunt Leslie, brother Shaun, and I got to go down to the funeral home to see Grandpa and say personal goodbyes before the big viewing the next day at the funeral.

I had only seen a dead body once before, and so I was quite nervous. When I first saw him, I had to divert my eyes because it scared me a bit. But then as I looked at him again, I saw Grandpa laying there. We all had a very special time saying goodbyes to him that night. I'm so glad that I took the opportunity to do that - as the next day I would not have had the privacy that I wanted amongst all the people attending his viewing.

The public viewing the next day was the only time I saw my Grandma really break down - when they closed the casket and it was the last time she was able to look at him. It made me so sad to see her cry like that - to say good bye to her companion of 60+ years.

After the memorial service, a police escort took us through downtown Pendleton to the graveyard site. It felt weird - like we were a parade coming through. All the traffic had to stop for us and we got to drive through all the red lights.

Once we finally made it to the Memorial Park, I realized how perfect of a place it was to bury Grandpa.

The surrounding landscape reminded me of all the times in Grandpa's truck as they drove us to the mountains to go backpacking, or to the lake to go fishing, or just on a drive through the wheat fields. It reminded me of his grandparents making the trek to Eastern Oregon from New Zealand to settle there and the heritage his family brought to this land.

Surprisingly, as the weekend went on, I too felt at peace. The knowledge that my Grandpa is happy, with his family, smiling down on us, no longer suffering in a physical body...really made me happy. I could finally understand why my Grandmother felt such peace. I heard many family members talk about individuals who had passed away years ago who were probably so excited to see my Grandpa again.

Something I realized this weekend - is it's not about how you die, but how you lived your life.

The only thing I worry about is Grandma being "single" now. There were times over the weekend when I was hugging Will, or saw other couples being affectionate in front of Grandma...and I couldn't help but wonder if this would be a difficult thing for her from now on. Not having her companion there to hold hands with, to hug, to sit next to, etc.

Easter Sunday was spent with the family. We had a big breakfast together, and then those that could stay went to church together.

There were no easter eggs or hunts or candy. This Easter was all about the Ressurection of Christ.

Just a few of the other (many) photos that we took over the weekend...

Finally...making our way home.

I know that looks gross, but the substance in Preston's bottle is homemade apple juice. It's kind of thick and pulpy. Just had to clarify so you didn't think we were feeding our baby molasses. LOL.


Mama Dew said...

I'm glad you felt the peace your Grandmother was feeling. You are doing some amazing things with your camera by the way. The black and white of your little family is my favorite.

FSD said...

Jenni--I'm so happy to hear you found peace in the midst of a very hard situation. It looks like your grandfather's funeral was very nice. I couldn't help but tear up when you talked about your grandmother's final goodbye to your grandfather. That's just heartbreaking. Although she may have a tough road ahead, she's so blessed to be surrounded by a family that loves her so much. God bless you and your family. You will continue to be in my prayers.

Kate said...

What a neat experience - I love the pictures.

Ron said...

Thank you for sharing these precious memories of our family. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered...and was grateful.

Steve and Ileana said...

Thank you for writing all that and sharing the photos Jenni. I think what you wrote describes how many of us were feeling last weekend.


mbishopp said...

i am sorry for your loss

wow, those are beautiful photos of your grandpa's funeral.
i especially like the one where your grandmother is accepting the flag and the one where the car holding the casket is driving away.
thank you for sharing.

Dan Thomas said...

Dear Jenny,

Done very well. You can be proud ouf yourself.

There are things much worse then death.

Dad Thomas

Brandie said...

Jenni, I am so sorry to hear of your grandfathers death, I know that you loved him so and still do. Your pictures are very beautiful and you are right, the weekend was a good weekend for a beautiful funeral. I hope you are well. Sorry it has been so long since I wrote to you.

carlen said...

beautiful tribute to your grandpa as well as to your grandma's strength and acceptance of the Lord's will. i can only imagine how hard it must be to have journeyed so long and so far with your eternal companion and then have to part for a while! you captured amazing photos of a bittersweet and memorable Easter weekend!