Monday, January 21, 2013

Family, Honor, Tears, Laughter

We got word last Sunday night that Trent's grandfather was dying.  He passed away on Wednesday night.  We called on our youth group parents and our former summer ministry intern to step into our shoes and run the youth garage sale fundraiser while we headed to Trent's hometown for the funeral over the weekend.  

I have fortunately not been to many funerals in my life...  When I was a little kid I didn't really understand what had happened or why my infant brother didn't make it.  When I was a teenager I wasn't close to my Dad's friend and didn't feel the loss like Dad did.  But now I'm an adult, I understand, I feel the loss.  You might think this loss was not personal for me.  It wasn't my own grandfather that passed.  I never knew him before alzheimer's took the real Pawpaw away.  But Trent is a part of me and Trent's family is now my family so yes, it was a personal loss.   

This was an exhausting and emotional weekend, but it was such a good weekend too.  I thought many thoughts, said many words, saw many people and noticed four things that really stood out to me.

I saw such love in Trent's big, wonderful extended family, such connection.  All nine siblings were together for the first time in a while and cousins drove or flew in from all over.  There were extra people staying at Trent's parent's house and it nearly felt like we were re-doing Christmas, minus the twinkle lights and the snow.  

The honor and respect shown to Pawpaw throughout the funeral service overcame me.  He was a World War II veteran.  His casket was draped with the American flag, which two young soldiers folded carefully and respectfully and presented to Mawmaw at the grave site. Another young soldier played Taps and Uncle Gerald, a Vietnam veteran, stood and with a shaking hand, saluted his father. 

Of course there were many tears.   Losing a loved one creates a surreal ache and it's impossible to avoid the sadness, even if you know that person is in a better place, no longer suffering.  But amidst the tears were hugs, soft words and hope.

Also amidst the tears was laughter and lots of it. Many stories were told of Pawpaw, Mawmaw, the 9 kids, the 19 grandkids, the 23 great-grandkids.  When you have that many characters in play, you're bound to find some hilarity, and sure enough, we did.    This is the piece of the weekend that stood out to me the most.  It wasn't a gloomy weekend full of sorrow.  Yes there was some quiet hurting, but also joy and hope.  

I'm pretty sure that's how Pawpaw would have wanted it to be...

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