January 1st 2008 was my Gramps’s 94th birthday. He died the next day. One year later, last Sunday the 2nd, the husband and I went with Mom and Dad to the hilltop cemetery. We bundled up against the snow and brought a mason jar filled with sprigs of winter-blooming jasmine, all tied up with a nice green plaid ribbon.
It was my first time out since the funeral, and I’m so happy I finally went. It’s the “Family Cemetery,” where Mom says we are one of the largest families in residence. And though they are dim in my memory, I recall several trips out to lay flowers and poems and prayers for a few in particular. Mom used to take SisterMeghanne and me walking into the oldest sections to read the inscriptions and try our hand at grave rubbings—angels and “from-to” dates in pink and orange crayons.
The whole family has been out there in the last couple of days. We put our jar next to the wreath my Grams brought out with my uncle and aunt and cousins at Christmas time. Apparently, when they first brought it out, the snow was so thick on the ground that they couldn’t find him. So they made a guess. “If it’s not there later,” said Grams, who sometimes has a surprisingly quirky sense of humor, “we’ll know he reached up and grabbed it.” I guess he declined, and Grams must have eventually located his spot on a later trip out… In any case.
It was getting on to dusk and we said a quick prayer for him, a sometimes difficult old man who pulled the biggest turnaround on his family 3 years before he died: He became really sweet. Nice even, and funny.
So thanks for that, Gramps. We love you.