When my grandfather died a little over three months ago, the grandkids elected my sister to write a speech to give at the funeral on behalf of all of us. She had been struggling with not being able to get home and say goodbye before he died. The outcome of this struggle was this speech (with some input from the rest of us):
We have said goodbye to our grandfather thousands of times throughout our lives: when parting after Sunday lunch, or birthday dinners, or lake trip weekends.
We said goodbye to PawPaw thousands of times because we had that many opportunities to know him. Thousands of opportunities to take in his history, his wit, his good naturedness, his simple heart and complex mind. We had thousands of moments for him to help shape who we have become as individuals.
Moments such as:
PawPaw growing okra amongst his irises.
PawPaw taping a picture of his tallest banana plant’s best harvest to the smaller banana plant beside it as inspiration.
PawPaw explaining the divine nature of the ant and peony relationship.
PawPaw explaining how many birthday cake candles we should have if we used a base-ten system.
PawPaw calling us to eat with ‘comida comida ahora!’
Through these moments we have come to understand the legacy that our grandfather has left us and our family: generosity, loyalty, sincerity, hard work, reflection, and humor.
We are thankful that we had so many opportunities to say goodbye. Now, as we say goodbye for the last time, we know that there is no final goodbye so perfect it fills the loss that follows. However, in our case, with our PawPaw, there is also no need for a perfect goodbye to make up for a lack of relationship. All these moments of cherished shared history mean we can say goodbye to a grandfather that we love without regrets of time lost or words unspoken.
We are filled by the legacy that he has left. We were created out of that legacy and will continue to be created from having known him and remembering.
My sister put into words exactly how I felt about my grandfather, as well as how I feel about my relationship with my father – that our relationship has been filled with thousands of opportunities to know each other. I’m grateful for both my father and my grandfather, and the influence they both have had in my life.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you!
(And thanks to Keli for writing such a great speech.)