We closed out Grampy’s memorial with fireworks over a field of corn. The weather was uncommonly cool for July in Cayuga county, so we bundled in fleece blankets and stood in groups among the cars in the parking lot, faces lit up by green and red flashes in the sky.
My little family traveled the day of the wake and arrived for the last viewing hour. Walking up the stairs at the funeral home, I followed my wife and daughter inside in a daze. Finn marched right up to the casket, oblivious to her mother, grandmother, and a hundred other people, and inspected Grampy closely. It took me a while to warm up into greetings and making small talk with my family, but after an hour or so I got my brain working and became sociable.
We left, got changed, and walked down the street to my uncle’s house, where deli plates were being dropped off and the drinks were pouring. Finn found herself a place on the porch swing next to my oldest cousin and easily held her own with the crowd. Later, when seats were at a premium, she secured her spot by bringing dessert back for her seatmate; that kid is getting smarter every day.
The service was held in a small lakeside Catholic church where Grampy went to Mass before the shrinking congregation consolidated to another parish. I sat in the third pew with eight of my cousins, dressed like the cast of Reservoir Dogs, as pallbearers. The service was capped with eulogies from cousins and children, ending with a history written by my father and filled with details I’m sure few of us had heard before. Then the piper started up outside and we carried him to the hearse.
His gravesite is beautiful, set up on a hill facing west toward the lake. After a short service we adjourned to the Inn for drinks and light food on the back lawn, and then to my Uncle Brian’s farm for barbecue and a larger party. To see my daughter playing in the barnyard with her cousins filled me with joy; it was a small taste of my experience visiting Grampy’s farm 40 years ago, running free and full of life, which is how all funerals should be celebrated.