Diary of the Tweople project – June 3rd

Below is my official entry to Diary of the Tweople.  This is a cool concept, and from what I know they are still taking entries (you need to have a Twitter account and follow them in order to submit).

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On January 23rd, 2011, my grandfather passed away at the age of 89.

On June 3rd, 2011, I went to his memorial service.

My grandfather was a strong family man, who served in World War II as a corporal in the Marines.  He led his life with a level of character that is rarely seen today.  And he was like a father to me.

Early in the morning, I drove from my home to my mother’s home in North Conway, NH.  My mother had put together a large board of pictures of my grandfather.  Many of these showed him outside because he was an avid outdoorsman.  As I looked at these pictures, I recalled how he taught me how to fish on the pond near his home.  I also recalled how he used to pick me up from kindergarten in his oil company truck.  He had to boost me onto the seat because the truck was so much bigger than my little self.

Many of the photos featured him and my grandmother together.  They made it through 65 years of marriage before he died.  This is a length of time that is unfathomable to me as a life span, much less as a time committed to one other person.  My grandmother now holds his picture next to her each night.  She told me that sometimes she talks to him, most of the time cursing him for leaving first.

My mother and I, along with her boyfriend, drove to the cemetery that day.  We got there a half hour early, but there were already a dozen cars.  Dressed up firemen were there, to honor my grandfather’s many years as a volunteer fireman.  Family members I had not seen since I was a child were there.  I spent the service standing behind my grandmother with one hand on her tiny shoulder.  The service was blessedly brief.  My grandfather was a spiritual man, but not a religious one.  He did not even want us to do a service.  So, I was glad to see that the mention of Jesus and God was kept to a minimum.

My mother and I both had agreed that we weren’t going to speak because it would be too hard and we’d break down.  Yet, when the minister asked if anyone wanted to say anything, I felt a compulsion to move forward that was overwhelming.  I HAD to speak.  This was my GRANDFATHER.

I spoke of how he was like a father to me.  I spoke of how every useful thing I know was something he taught me.  I remarked about how if he tried to teach you something and you didn’t get it, he’d let you know right away.  This made people laugh.  Everyone knew he was sometimes sharp with his words.  But I know his heart was never sharp.  I told everyone how, when I go camping with friends, I am always the one to start a fire because he showed me how to do this.  I said that there were too many examples to cite, but that I would miss his presence in my life.  Everyone felt that I spoke well, and said that my words made them cry.  I feel like there are not enough memorial services, or words, to explain what my grandfather meant to me.

The day was punctuated with moments of levity – the bizarre macabre humor that comes from emotionally awkward situations.  My mother and I have been discussing how to move some of my grandfather’s ashes into small keepsake urns.  I suggested the undertaker can do this.  She suggested a teaspoon.

Someone who spoke at the service recalled playing cribbage with my grandfather.  I told him later that I recalled my grandfather trying to teach me cribbage, and just throwing the cards down and walking away when I did not pick up on the game.  I was four years old at the time.

I reminisced with a 2nd cousin about how I first discovered that our Aunt Agnes wore a wig:  It was the day I walked into the bathroom and saw Agnes’ head on the counter.  It scared me so much I never went to the bathroom in her house again.

After the memorial service, we all convened at an inn for appetizers and drinks.  Many of us knew that if my grandfather had been there, he might very well have been sitting on a couch taking one of his many power naps.

I had a few glasses of wine and joked with my mom about having twelve glasses.  I wanted twelve.

After we returned to my mom’s house, I called an old hometown friend.  I have known this person for over 25 years, and he generally brings out the devilish side of me.  At that point in time, I needed a little devil to chase out the feeling of being stuck in one spot.  It’s a feeling that convinces you that if you don’t move from that spot, you won’t ever leave that place in time.  And once again, I needed to move forward.

I met with my friend, and other old friends, and managed to move forward a little by traveling back in time.  We joked and laughed, and later, as I drove home to my mom’s, I cried.  Emotions are like that – always holding hands, ready to step in when another steps away.

But emotions are your raw sense of self.  Most of my grieving has been done alone – when I allow those feelings to bubble up.  And at those times, I know that my grandfather lives in me a little every day.  Each day that I still think of him, he will still be around.  That makes me feel good.

June 3rd was not a typical day, but it is one I will remember.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Heather, just seeing this post now, many thanks for mentioning us! The diary is very close to being published now, keep an eye on our Twitter feed for announcements.

    Reply

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