As the title entails, my grandfather has recently passed away, my paternal grandfather specifically. At the ripe age of ninety, he'd had a long, happy and prosperous life. Today I'll be writing about the exequy in plentiful detail, as this was a beautiful ceremony I'd rather not let escape my mind. Let's get cracking.
Quite remarkably, in almost a circular plot structure, we held his last honours at a chapel he helped build decades ago! I'd not ventured out to this property previously but had been told stories and comments about it by my father. To get to step inside and witness it for the first time was interesting.
He was exceptionally benevolent especially to his beliefs, even still, not many can say they helped erect the chapel, host the chapel, and then have their send off held at said chapel, that's quite the trifecta of religion very few can hope to achieve. After having my father drop me off at the chapel, I approach some familiar faces in the car park, I'd paired up with one of my aunts and a close cousin. I've admittedly been a bit too gauche to branch out further with family over the years, so I'm limited to whom I can sit with comfortably. Alas, all worked out nicely.
We wend our way into the chapel, following the pallbearers to the catafalque. Once laid in place we take our seats at the pews. On ones right also on the pew, lays a hymnbook with an order-of-service booklet atop. Now we sit awaiting the eulogies followed by hymns and vise versa.
So it begins, as everyone's all hymning, I decided to politely read along. I've not had a religious upbringing so admittedly I actually couldn't keep track of the lyrics to the hymn the order in which you read each verse. I figured it out by the second hymn but still chose to remain silent, not out of disrespect but more as I'm no singer. Even so, I was still able to appreciate the meanings of what hymns had been chosen.
One of my uncles has his speech, followed by a hymn, one of my cousins, hymn. Then my aunts, then some final hymns. For a funeral this was an exceptionally cheerful one, constant yet brief laughter filled the nave of the chapel with each other story that was being told to us. The stories of grandad seemed to be a multigenerational experience, as many re-enacted the same snippets of their life with him, even I'd had some of the same stories in my head. It was beautiful, truly.
As the reception ends, we once again follow the pallbearers but this time back to the hearse. We watch the coffin be laid in the back then gradually everyone wanders to their vehicles. So now we take a leisurely drive to the graveyard, staying a car behind the hearse. Upon arrival it feels strange, I've not been back since we laid grandma to rest back in 2019. Everyone parks into place at the top of the field, then follow single file to the plot we're laying him in. I'd expected to struggle with this bit but honestly, maybe it's just me, but this wasn't a sad day. We'd made a lovely service out of today, recounting memories and now reuniting him with grandma, along with knowing he'd had a long healthy lived life. I think that's special.
Varying kith and kin take their grab of dirt to say a final good bye to Grandad, Great Grandad, Terry, however they may of known him, this was the final goodbye.
And with that, we head back to the chapel for the repast. I went back in a different car this time but still had my cousin with me. Sharing more stories, giggling from the past as we head over, I hadn't seen these people in awhile so this was lovely.
Time for the service to recommence, a hall has been decked with chairs in different circular groups, along with tables at the back with food, not to be sat at however. Everyone helps themselves to the smorgasbord, finds a group to sit with, and the conversations begin, it was quite lovely. this took place for around an hour and a half I believe, the whole day was about four hours all together.
I sat once again with the more familiar group of cousins while I ate, but then made a valiant effort to talk to the faces I knew but hadn't previously reached out to myself over the years. This was unlike me, still I'm glad I did it. It's too easy to be a wallflower but sometimes we have to remember that convenience, isn't always what's healthy for us in the long run.
After finishing chatting in the food hall, I found my way to the memorial room. This had collages all over the walls, gathered in boards all categorised near enough by decade. I had two features on the wall of very cheeky faces I was pulling as a child, quite amusing to come across these while taking it all in.
Bringing the gathering to an end, I find my ride home, say the final goodbyes, and sit as I'm driven home. This was a lovely ceremony that I'm glad I attended.
- Love Eden