I went AWOL there for a few weeks. My Grandfather finally passed away on September 3rd, after more than 5 years, multiple heart attacks, a stroke, colon cancer, a broken hip and replacement this summer and, finally, a drug-reisistant staph infection that he never did shake. I've talked about his health and some of the difficulties he's had in the past, and it was a relief to me that he was finally at peace.
It was a sad trip to New Jersey, but honestly, he looked far better at the viewing than he had in years. In fact, I couldn't help but smile every time I looked at him, because all I could think was that he finally had his dignity back. He was given a very dignified service and memorial, and because he had served in the Navy in WWII, he had the flag-draped casket. Two Naval men in dress uniforms played taps, performed the flag folding ceremony and presented the flag to my grandmother. I'd never been at a military burial before, and the ceremony was so reverent and respectful- it was really beautiful. The two gentlemen who attended my grandfather's cemetary service were amazing, and I'm so grateful to them for how genuine they were while thanking my grandmother for Grandpa's service to his country.
I also enjoyed meeting my Dad's cousins, partly because that generation seems to have avoided The Crazy that my grandparents and their siblings had, and partly because it was so good to hear their fond memories of Grandpa. He was extremely cranky in his last decade or so. It was nice to remember what a friendly and generous uncle (and grandfather) he was in the past. I think every single one of my Dad's cousins said he was their favorite uncle. He was always out in the yard, on the roof, or tinkering with something. Everyone had stories of him helping with their bicycles as kids, and later, their cars. I think that's why he might have been cranky later in life- he never really recovered enough from that first heart attack to be as active as he liked.
One of the saddest parts for me was that the funeral was on Blue's first birthday. My baby girl turned one on the 9th, and, unfortunately, I wasn't there. I'm so glad I went out for Grandpa's funeral, though. It was good for all of us to be there. I'll post again soon with cute kid pictures.
I think my Great-Aunt Mary said it best on Sunday (she'll be 99 in December, and she's starting to get a little confused, which is sad), "Hug and kiss, hug and kiss. Time is short."