It's been a busy week! Tuesday saw us loading up and heading to Gi-gi's for the night, so as to make it to my grandpa's memorial service on Wednesday morning. The weather was supposed to be wet and windy, and it was an outdoor service. I packed warm dresses, tights, and extra-layers for the girls, and made sure I had my nylons/long johns/tall socks/etc ready to go. We arrived early at the Veteran's Cemetery, where all the cars parked in lanes like an airport drop-off. At the appropriate time, an old man in a golf cart led the parade of cars around a big loop, ending about 1/8 of a mile from where we began. :) Apparently they didn't have carseats and buckles (and paranoid parents) when he was young, or he might've given us the option to walk...? Everyone gathered around an open-sided shelter of sorts, and the short service began. I'd never been to a "full military honors" service before, and it was so poignant and moving. Two officers stepped out to the center, snapped open a flag between them (held like a bedsheet for catching apples) and a third man, on a nearby knoll, played Taps on the bugle. I cry at commercials like this - you can imagine how I was feeling seeing all this in real life - and for my own grandpa. When the bugler was done (and oh, he did a fine job), the officers smartly and carefully folded the flag into it's triangular shape, and presented it to my uncle, thanking him for his father's years of service to his country. Then he soberly and slowly saluted, turned on his heel, and marched out.
Various people stood up and shared memories they had of him - most were about "Uncle Jim" - he had many neices and nephews, but only three children (two now gone) and four grandchildren. After his divorce from Gi-gi (and his grandchildren living distantly and/or growing up), his siblings and their kids became his primary family. And I'm so glad he had them. Like when my mother died, I was fascinated to see him through the eyes of others who loved him. In many ways I know more about him now than I did before -- and it was the same with my mom's death. He certainly had his character flaws, but he is remembered for his gentleness, his jokes and laughter, his stories (oh, his stories!), and his just-down-right-decency toward others. Oh, and his inability to ever throw anything away.
Due to this last trait, we are heading back there tomorrow, to further assist in the dunging-out of his house and garage. My duties will encompass all efforts to keep *my* (okay, "our") garage from looking like Grandpa's. And that will be a big job.
I remember once, when Gramps and Gi-gi were still married, her telling me about my grandpa, in less-than-admiral tones... "Your grandpa will buy anything if it's a bargain. Anything!" said with utmost derision. Grandpa was just then tinkering in the garage (probably unloading another garage-sale haul from somewhere). In my youth and ignorance, I promptly trotted out there and said to him, "Grandpa, Grandma says that you'll buy anything if it's a bargain." He got a thoughtful look on his face before he slowly nodded, and with pride said, "yep... that's right."
Talk about a lesson in perspective.