Mom and I spent most of last night going through photographs for the funeral display, finding photos from 1952 all the way up to 2002, when Grandma spent Christmas with us. We got a little teary, laughed a lot, and I hope that's how the funeral will be. Just looking at the photos showed just how involved she was in her grandkids' lives. There they are at baseball games, the Detroit Zoo, making Halloween costumes, at graduation... they were all over the place. Her grandkids will all be at the funeral, most of whom I haven't seen in many years - and most of whom never visited Grandma in the Assisted Living Facility. One, I heard, said they didn't want to remember her that way. It's too bad.
Grandma had planned a two-day Funeralpalooza for herself, which will include day long ceremonies on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, there's the family visitation for an hour, then general visitation for four hours, then a funeral ceremoney. On Monday, the body lies in state for an hour, then we head over to the church for a big old Catholic funeral mass, and then it's off to the cemenary for the actual lowering of the coffin into the ground next to grandpa.
In my (nearly) 29 years, I've had a the good fortune not to have experienced much death. I've lost both paternal grandparents, now, as well as a great uncle, plus a few friends here and there throughout school - my best friend Tyson, who died in the first grade when I was in the second; my baseball teammate Josh, who died of a brain tumor the weekend he was supposed to graduate from high school; and Adrian, my former RA co-worker who died in Iraq. I didn't go to any of their funerals, though, so this will be only the third funeral of my life, after Gramps' and Uncle Wayne's. What I most remember from the other major one - Grandpa's, back in 1991, when I was 13 - was Grandma, how she broke down in tears often, how she felt Grandpa's hands and said they were so cold, just like they were always cold after dinner. I remember my dad putting a Red Wings hat in the coffin right before it was closed. I remember Grandpa's friend, Mr. Borowski, a former Polish army buddy, tape a baggy full of Polish dirt on his coffin and give a little speech about how they had agreed to do that with one another with whoever died first. They then handed Grandma the American flag that had been draped over Grandpa's coffin, and she broke down again.
Grandma was 14 years younger than Grandpa, so she was 66 then, and lived 15 years longer than he did. The funeral will be in the same room as Grandpa's was, so I'm sure I'll see myself as I was then - how I saw his dead body (the first I had ever seen), saw how pale he was, and couldn't speak for hours. I hope that doesn't happen tomorrow.
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