Saturday, July 19, 2014

Impromptu Utah Visit

Last weekend I got to go to Utah. My grandpa died and the funeral was held on Monday. My sister and her family were kind enough to host me, which was a ton of fun since I hadn't seen them for a few years and hadn't had a chance to meet my new niece yet.

I feel a little lucky that I've made it to 30 before losing someone close to me. I've had great-grandparents die, but I didn't live close enough to really know them, and my other grandpa died before I was born. I guess the closest I've come was a guy, Ryan, who was in wind symphony with me at BYU and traveled with the group to Scandinavia. He was in a car crash a few years ago with his wife and few month old baby and he died at the scene (his wife and baby survived). That was shocking, just because it was someone close to my age and it's unexpected. And it was very sad because obviously it would be hard on his surviving family. But we weren't super close, just people who played in a group together for a year.

Anyway, this is the first person I've been close to who has died. It's sad, but not entirely unexpected. My grandpa was 82 and had Parkinson's. So I was expecting a long, slow decline and that maybe he'd die in a couple years, not now, but I find myself glad for him that he got to skip the long, slow decline. It feels a bit weird to remember he's dead, because he's someone who has always been there.

I didn't take any pictures, but it was a very nice funeral. Several relatives spoke about memories of my Grandpa, and us grandkids did a couple of musical numbers. My little niece thought it was hilarious when I had my reed in my mouth getting ready for the piece we played. I had to set it aside after a bit because she was on the verge of getting quite disruptive laughing at me. After the funeral service we went to the cemetery where they had a short military service (my Grandpa served in the army for a couple years). Bagpipes, flag, and bugle. It was very nice, and in some ways even more moving than the funeral itself.

My grandmother has dementia and no memory of who I am, so that was a bit hard, but I knew to expect it. I did make the mistake of looking at her while the grandkids were singing and just about lost it (she and my grandpa have been pretty inseparable the past few years and it's hard to think of her on her own), but I made sure to look at the ceiling and back of the room after that! I gave her a hug before we left the luncheon, since I would be leaving Utah the next morning. She said, "You're really growing up, aren't you?" in her usual chipper voice. It was so her, and knowing she had no idea who I was (and obviously judged me to be younger than I am) I just replied, "Yeah, I am" with a smile. And then broke into tears, realizing this would likely be the last time I saw her. Definitely the hardest part of the whole funeral for me.

I had a great time with my sister and her family, playing and watching baseball with my nephew and trying to get my niece to like me (I did finally achieve some smiles and giggles!). We checked out the Animal Inside Out exhibit after the funeral, bought some treats from Hatch Chocolates, and generally had a great time chatting and hanging out together. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take anyone else with me (would've loved to take Gareth to hang out with his cousins). But I guess it made for a good trial-run for my trip to Baton Rouge later this month. Ryan and the boys survived the extremely hot Seattle weekend (okay, 90 isn't all that bad, but when you don't have a/c it gets bad pretty quickly) and Malcolm didn't seem to notice I was gone for four days. Gareth was really sad I was leaving before I left, but once I was gone seemed to have a good time.

3 comments:

Nancy said...

I didn't know you knew Ryan (though it does make sense). His death was pretty hard for me to get over, too. Shocking, certainly. And he and his wife were such dear friends of mine. (She's doing well, btw, remarried with another baby—super cute family).

And while I'm sorry for the loss of your grandpa, I must say that going quick really was fortunate. My grandpa had Parkinson's as well (is that genetic, because if so, we need to watch out!) and his death was certainly a drawn out process, which was terrible.

I'm glad you got to go back for the funeral.

Myrna said...

I thought of Ryan A. when I read this post just as Nancy did, only was like "that happened to another guy named Ryan too?"

I too am glad that your grandpa didn't have to spend a long, long time on a slow decline. I read the obituary and he sounded like such a nice person.

Kristine Nielson said...

I'm so sorry you lost your grandpa. Mine died when I was 30, a few days after I had Sylvia. He still shows up in my dreams sometimes.

I can't remember where I heard it, but supposedly the Roma people claim you aren't truly dead until nobody remembers you any more. I like the thought that my dreams bring my grandpa back to life, just a little bit.

I wish I could send you a hug. Tell Ryan to give you one for me.