Monday was my grandfather's funeral. He passed away on Friday after months of being ill. I knew in advance the time was coming and took the opportunity to visit him on Valentine's Day when he was still aware of his surroundings. I also got to talk too him (although he was not able to speak back) last Monday.
Services were held at the same funeral home in the same small town as my Granddaddy's (1982) and Grandmama's (1999). It was kind of surreal stepping back into the place where I last saw my Grandmamma's body lying in a casket. The most prominent thing from my memory of that day was that the woman lying there looking nothing like my Grandmama, and it was no comfort seeing a body that looked nothing like someone I held so dear to my heart.
I went in with a false sense of security knowing that Papaw was to be cremated. I guess they decided to perform the cremation after the service so there would be the opportunity to have a viewing. Once again I have been struck with the thought of this looks nothing like the person I saw just weeks ago. I had no intention of speaking, but when the floor was opened for memories, I felt moved to. I was able to share one of my fondest memories of my cousins and I sitting out on the deck of his house above the bayou spitting watermelon seeds at each other while our dads and Papaw shucked Oysters (yuck!) right out of the water.
Does anyone else feel comforted by this ritual? I don't think that this is what I want for myself someday. I don't want to be looked at in a box (opened or closed), I don't want to sit up on someones mantle or at the top of a closet. Someone take my ashes and leave me on the river bank or at the beach. That is where we are taking Papaw in a few weeks. Down to the beach. The water was always the place where he was the happiest.
John Howard Jones