I finally experienced something this weekend that I knew was eventually inevitable, but I didn't want it to happen none the less. I had my grandpa's funeral. The first funeral I've had to attend of a family member.
But here's the deal.
We really weren't that close. not at all in fact. All my memories of grandpa consist of him sitting in his chair at home, while grandma took care of him. And then when I was in junior high, he got placed in a nursing home because grandma had gotten in a car wreck and so she was laid up for a few weeks and so she couldn't take care of him and he just stayed there and slowly went downhill. So, really I don't have any storybook/movie quality memories of my grandfather. NOT that they didn't happen, I've found plenty of photos that attest that they did. BUt they just happened too early for me to distinctly remember. So, while it is rather unfortunate that I can't look back and smile on good memories with grandpa. The honest and maybe somewhat morbid truth , is that it has made this process a whole lot easier.
We all knew it was coming though. The last month we had seen him in and out of the hospital and everytime it was the same thing. "well, he could go tonight. He could go next month" so we knew it was edging closer and when we got the call Wednesday morning, it was one of those "yea, he's in a better place now."
Through this whole process I really felt kind of bad actually. There were no tears, there was no empty sense of loss. It was simply a factual thing. Grandpa had died. And as the hugs and "I'm so sorry's" and the questions of "How are you doing?" began, I felt bad ,because I was A-OK fine.
It continued even at the visitation, my cousins, and older of my two younger sisters were all along the same line with it. We sat and conversed and joked about things like normal. And shared how we were all sad that Francis had passed, but didn't have any major emotional memories to really upset us.
But eventually the tears did come and I knew they would, at the funeral. I knew that when I saw my grandma crying or my dad tear up, I knew I would. And it happened. But it wasn't til the end of the funeral. When they had fufilled my grandpa's request he had made early on in life to have "bridge over troubled water" played at his funeral. That's when I cried. And when we were at the gravesite and the American Legion handed my grandma the flag and they thanked her for his years of serive in the korean conflict. And when I saw the tears fall down the face of my dad. My big tough, farming, jock, of a man who was your typical dude's dude who didn't show emotion or cry. And when I saw my two baby sisters crying. That's when I cried and I felt better. Knowing that I wasn't completely devoid of human emotion. But I also think what got me going was knowing that at some point, hopefully a long long way down the road, but at some point. I would be burying grandma or my dad and that's what really hit me. Because I know when that time comes, I will most definitally be one hott mess.
So, while this weekend had an overcast of gloom. It was actually a nice weekend. I got to all my Riebhoff family and 90% of it was spent laughing and joking. Which is good, because even though I don't have that many memories, I know that's they my grandpa would have wanted it.