My Gramps planned his own funeral.
I guess that’s a ‘perk’ of knowing you’re sick and the end is truly imminent.
When I was five or six I was down in Washington with my Grandparents. We used to go down there every summer for a week or two to stay with them and our cousins. It was a great bonding time and I am eternally thankful for that gift. We are all close to this day.
The incident I’m referring to took place in the car driving down the coast. We were talking about how hot it was, which led to how far away the sun was and the Earth moved around the sun. I vividly remember this moment… standing up in the backseat of the car leaning up to the front to chat with them (100% safe… well back then). My Gramps says, ‘and then one day the sun will explode and our planet will be eaten up by fire’. Nonchalantly, like no big deal. I burst into tears (similar to how the sun will soon burst into flames) and was inconsolable.
Thinking back on it, regardless of how it ends, the one thing we know for sure is life on Earth, most definitely does end. Gramps knew that always, but even more so with a diagnosis of a terminal illness and even, at one point, a time frame of 30 days to live. Not to worry- my stubborn genes may have come a little from him, as he lived another year after that.
In that year he planned a beautiful service. His favorite hymns were sang. His daughters, granddaughters, nephew, cousin and even my Grams spoke. A favorite lesson was shared. And we all ate cake. They put red roses in a vase up front, symbolizing each year Grams and Gramps were married. The Pastor leading the service wore Grandpa’s prayer shawl. We saw faces I had grown up getting hugs from every time we visited. We listened to beautiful stories about how Gramps had changed people’s lives. It was amazing.
Of course, in the end, we all returned home. To the house that was once filled every summer with the laughter of five rambunctious cousins, one enabling Grandpa, and one smiling Grandma- probably soaking it all up. I would hear the echoes of my brother’s footsteps coming up the stairs during a wild game of hide ‘n seek. I could feel the intensity of sneaking into the attic to hear Becky read scary stories. And hear the giggles of all us girls sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the living room.I even did one quick lap around hidden porch, for old time’s sake, barefoot and running as fast as I could.
Know what else I could feel? Grandpa’s love surrounding us all. Like he was there, lifting us up. Like he always has. Like he always will.