We buried my grandfather today. He would have celebrated his 91st birthday on May 24.
I did something stupid when I was a girl, or I should say I said something disrespectful and he never forgave me. And it worked out okay, because I had my reasons for saying what I did. When I was in college, I approached him about the possibility of being civil to each other for my father’s sake but he rebuked my efforts. He flat out ignored everything I said.
I will not say he was a bad man. He was a decorated World War II veteran. He was a dedicated father to an adopted daughter with intellectual disabilities.
And he and I were once very close. We chewed a lot of Juicy Fruit together and listened to Jim Reeves cassettes. We watched the Dukes of Hazzard.
I gave my dad a pack of Juicy Fruit to slip in my grandfather’s pocket. My aunt did it. Dad couldn’t. I couldn’t. My dad asked my husband to be a pall bearer. These are all small gestures meant to heal larger rifts.
My dad told me I didn’t have to come, especially since we hadn’t talked, and the cemetary was an hour and a half away from the funeral home.
But I had never seen my grandmother’s grave. And my dad needed me. He needed all of his family.
You see, I know that people aren’t perfect. And I also know that my father is who he is because of his parents. Regardless of my relationship issues with my grandfather, I owe him for the gift he gave me — the wonderful man who raised me.
And our feud is now over. Forever. And I can begin a new chapter of my life.
My aunt, the one with disabilities, never attended a funeral before today. Not when her mom died in 1976. Not when her brother died in 2005. She chose to go to this one.
I took a photo of her placing her rose on the casket.