You had one of the richest minds I’ve ever known, and only near the end did I see your change this way. You shared less, smiled less, and I wondered if it was the sickness, or your knowledge of its end state, that made you this way. It didn’t matter. I loved you still the same.
                Days blurred and presumption became that each day might be one of the two you looked most forward to: Sundays and Tuesdays. Sundays, Betty picked you up for mass, and you would go together to worship and then to Ginger Sue’s for breakfast on the square. Tuesdays were also for your friends, when you would go out together for tacos early in the evening, and if I am ever blessed to live to such a state, I hope too to mistake common days for the ones I look most forward to and not lose sight for the special ones entirely.
                You died on a Sunday. You passed in the early morning between hours when your babies, now grandparents, took turns waking to tend and be with you. You departed in the hours when once you rose to begin in preparations to be with friends and in the presence of God, and so you did that Sunday but in a different way.
                We honored you today. It is a day I will not forget.
                I will remember all that came to honor you and the full life you lived. I will remember the rosary before your service, the recitation of prayers in a faith you and Grandpa, through your son, guided me in my religion and now shape my own children’s first experiences in higher beliefs. I will remember sitting beside my father—your son—and putting my arm around him as we prayed. I don’t know if he wanted comfort, needed solace, but I wanted him to know he was not alone in his experience of losing you. That is a special piece of family, we all need each other at different times, in different ways, and we are there. That is one of the blessings in blood.
                I will remember, as the rosary neared its end, my own anticipation. Before your service, Bridgette stayed back with the kids, and though it was only a few hours apart from them, I longed to have them close. One of the greatest honors I felt that I could offer in tribute to you would be to sit proudly with the family Bridgette and I have added to the branch you and Grandpa started.
                I met them in the back of the church, and my excitement manifested into joy. Matthew picked his own tie to wear for your service. It gave me happiness and resurrected past memories as I tied it for him in the back of the church where as a boy, I too was helped by my father in preparation for life events of faith: reconciliation, communion, these events and firsts in the Catholic Church that occur in the Lenten season where today we honored you.
                I will remember the way that Audrey cried, and how it was she that broke through what so many of us held back. I will remember her held in my mother’s and your son’s arms and how, together in release, they found comfort and greater collective peace.
                I will remember looking across the church and the pews filled with those you touched in life: family, friends, book clubs, bridge clubs, and more from the parish of which you were such an active part. I will remember too the children, your great grand babies that–God willing—will endure beyond us all. I reflected how their young lives, as well as mine, were only possible through the lives bequeathed by you and Grandpa first.
                I will remember standing at the altar, reading your first reading, and how on returning, Matthew put his hand upon me, comforting me just the same as I had wished to do for my own father. It is one of the simplest, but most sincere acts of love, to show compassion in the act of a comforting touch. He wished to care for me as I did for my father. I saw it, felt it, knew it unconditionally. This, too, is another blessing in blood.
                I will remember Clayton playing in the pews and aisles, doing laps around his parents and baby sister. It was he that was the most stoic of your grand babies, perhaps because his young life has not yet been conditioned to know any better. I will forever love the way he called to his Papa again and again from a section away, “There’s Papa!” pointing, and strutting out across the aisle separating him from where his Papa sat, growing nearer to him to see that he was well before turning around and returning with bravado to his approximate seat where he kept pace walking the seats of the pews fore and aft of his parents’ place.
                I will remember Owen falling asleep and Bridgette giving you full credit. You always said our children could fall asleep anywhere. Owen has been fighting naps for months, but in your service, he fell to rest in his mother’s arms in the way he would for you when he was an even younger boy.
                Lastly, when we gathered at yours and Grandpa’s final place, I will remember the balance of calm and somberness beneath the tent where we read your final tribute. I will remember Owen and Clayton playing outside, Clayton asking for a soccer ball when witnessing the openness and manicured green. It reminded me of memories with my own cousins, when we would play in the cemetery down the street from your first house in Liberty: when we were children just as the generation we now raise.
                I remember playing football and baseball in the open spaces between paved cemetery paths when we were too little to hurt much or do any harm. I remember being advised that we probably shouldn’t play like that in a cemetery, but being little and also believing that, when I died, I would rather be laid to rest in a place where people played and found joy than one where others only ventured to feel sorrow. Now grown, I still feel that way, and I hope it comforts you to know that you are loved, remembered, and that your resting place was a field of fun for two little boys that I pray outlive all of us that mourned.
                After your interment, Jack and Matthew aided Father in gifting flowers to all of us that gathered. They were your favorite flowers—yellow roses, snap dragons, and Irish lilies—and Jack and Matthew distributed them to all present to be witness at your final physical presence. In their youth, Jack and Matthew were respectful, gracious, and I believe would have made you proud.
                My ending memory from that moment will be frozen at the sight of your youngest grandchild: a yellow rose laid across her lap, her eyes opened in beginning awareness of a whole new existence beyond the womb, and I wonder if you might be somewhere too, awakening and holding witness to an entire new existence beyond our vision in the limits of this life.
                Your memory lives on in all of us whose lives remain a credit, and tribute, to your own.
                You died on a Sunday, and we honored you today—Tuesday. Maybe I am wrong on the day, but I would rather remember it as a day that gave you joy than one that lived forgotten.


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