I was nervous. I straightened my tie I was walking down a road I had been down many different times but not in quite the same fashion. I walked into the church and my throat was dry my hands were sweaty. In the same breath I was among honored friends and family.
I never truly understood funerals and death. I got the honoring the dead like the Vikings and the place in Valhalla where warriors reside and revel in the victories of their life and death in the afterlife. Do not add meaning to the reference instead just get this is the honor we give to the dead and those who had an impact on our lives.
For me death never struck me like others. I did not cry I did not sob nor weep. I simply was present to the remembrance of those who had passed on before me. This time was somehow different. I knew I was in a different space as I could feel something more just on the edges of my consciousness. My grandfather had died and I wasn’t prepared to really see that aspect of my life as I began to look at my own mortality in that moment.
The Church was packed there were people from all over in Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania to name a few states. It still was not registering it was so surreal and in that moment I just was in shock. My grandfather had over 20 legitimate children.
As the funeral began I was listening to the pastor at the podium. It was super intense and it was directly powerful. The words he used resonated about my grandfather. The words fit and I began to feel a weariness inside my soul. I knew this was a different thing. My Aunt went up to the podium and began speaking. In the initial stages it was about my grandfather and somehow it turned to a monument about her. Her first words were “I am the oldest and …” It all went blank and began to be a blah, blah, blah session about her and what she did and did not like. I struggled to stay present to her words. She said
When she sat down I felt my heart sinking as my grandfather was gone. I also felt my heart rise as I could be thankful for the time I spent with him and what it meant to me. I was compelled to go to the front of the church and speak. There was easily two hundred people within the church and I was not nervous at all.
“To start off I want to say I was my grandfather’s favorite grandchild. I have no Idea why and why really does not matter. Now to most people that may sound presumptuous or even arrogant. I want you to put that to the side for a moment and really get present to what I have to say. My grandfather would let me ride in the front cab of the truck while everyone else had to ride in the back. My grandfather would work on the farm all day and come home well after 10 pm when everyone else was sleep. I suffer from insomnia and my mind always runs and works. My grandfather would play checkers with me for a s long as it took for me to get tired and he would never ever let me win. I always had to earn the victor and he explained strategies of the game as well as strategies in life. I was really close with my grandfather. We would talk all the time and it was him listening and giving advice when he felt it would help never forcing it on me.
I found out something new about my grandfather today. If you look in the obituary I found out my grandfather was a Korean War hero. He had medals and things I never saw or knew anything about. My grandfather did not seek glory or to be glorified. He simply defended what he felt was right and as an African American back in those days must have been tough. My grandfather helped found a town which feeds into the town we are in right now with over 30,000 people in it. My grandfather again did not seek recognition so I want everyone to really get who this man was and the honor in who he was. I still have my grandmother and she is over there right now looking at me and I see her and all I can think of is what they mean to me.”
“I had a nickname that always bothered me as a child. My grandparents called me Frog or Froggy. I despised that nickname and how I got it was I used to hop around on all fours before I could walk. They never called me my name. Even this morning I went into my grandmother’s room to kiss her and she hugged me and was so excited that she called me frog. Now I am refined with master’s degrees and I am a nerd. And for today for her Frog is what is right and what fits. I love you, grandma.” And I walked to my seat I sat down. I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was familiar without even looking I got who it was and he leaned over and whispered in my ear “watch this and pay attention son.”
This man strode to the podium and there was an aura of respect from every single person in the room. The man began to speak. “That eloquent young man who you all just heard from Is my son. He is accomplished and I am so very proud of who he has become and who he still has yet to become. That being said I am the oldest of all my daddy’s children and after I speak no one else will be speaking here today.” There was a firmness in my dad’s voice that I did not get just yet, and it would be made clear as to the why all too soon.
My daddy revealed them to me and I know he loved them as much as he loved the rest of us. We stand here not to build monuments to ourselves we are here to honor my father. We honor him by being a family in unity and handling any changes that come our way as such, as a family. My son spoke so that we all knew the kind of man we are here to honor. Take that memory with you out into the world and maintain his honor. Thank you!”
I have always been proud of my father and the life he gave to me. In that moment I could not be more proud of him and how he handled that situation. No one else spoke and they all respected my father’s words. I lost a grandfather and gained 3 aunts and an uncle and all the family attached to that.
Sometimes the most spectacular things can be gained in the blink of an eye and all from something that may or may not be what others may deem right. Leave right and wrong behind and be present to all that is in front of you. Be thankful for it challenges and triumphs alike for it is in these moments that we inspire others and ourselves. My grandfather was the First Giant I Knew!!