Today was my Grandpa's memorial service. I actually had never been to a memorial service before, just funerals, and there is a huge difference. I far prefer memorial services. I really enjoyed hearing everyone's memories of my Grandpa.
There were people there from his woodcarving group. One man told how in order to be a Master Carver officially with the National Woodcarvers Association (or whatever they're called) there are several things you have to do, and my grandfather was never interested in the title or notoriety of being one. But they all know he definitely was a Master Carver and could have won award after award for his work.
There were people there from the Audubon Society, talking about what joy he always took in bird watching and how, even if he never got to see a bird while he was out, he just was so at peace in nature and loved every minute of it.
They talked of his patience, something both of his big hobbies required. His carvings were all so intricate... he'd have to sit and wait for hours to see birds.
His caretakers that were with him at the end were there, and I was so amazed by how genuine they were about their affection for him. They believed he deserved to be treated like royalty in his last days, and went to great lengths to provide him every comfort they could. They would refuse his meals if the dining room prepared him something he wouldn't eat or even if they gave him a larger portion than he could eat, because he would feel bad about wasting the food. They demanded perfection for him. They also made it very evident how much they cared for my parents, and one of them made my mother a prayer candle to help bring her peace.
My mother is doing great, by the way. It's been tough for her because they were very close, but she's relieved that he's no longer suffering. Even before his cancer caused him any pain, just the fact that he could no longer be as active as he was used to was difficult for him to take. But he's at peace now, and she's grateful.
The part of the service that really touched me the most was a man named Charles. When my grandparents used to travel a lot, they would stop at Indian Reservations and buy turquoise jewelry. They had a very large collection. At one point, they decided to sell most of it and contacted Charles to help them. They didn't sell all of it, I actually have a few of the pieces, because I'm a December baby (like my Grandpa) and turquoise is my birthstone. I adore them, and part of me wishes they hadn't sold any of it because I'd wear it all. =) I wore one of the rings today. Charles said that my Grandpa could tell him where they got each piece and the story of how they got it, what they paid for it. They continued to be really good friends afterwards. He then said that the last time he saw my Grandpa was just a few months ago. My Grandpa had always told him about his carvings, but he hadn't seen them. So my Grandpa took him the book of photographs of his carvings that I had made for this past Christmas. I was so touched to know that he was so proud of something I did and that he was able to do a little showing-off (which is something he RARELY did). My parents gave Charles the cane that my Grandfather carved and used every day. It was hard to see him walk away with that cane, but my parents said he was just thrilled to have it.
Earlier this year, my parents moved my Grandpa to a retirement village, and they ended up moving into it as well a few months later. We had lunch with them today in the dining room, and I was just blown away by how everyone knew my parents and loved them so much. I was just so happy to see that they're somewhere where they're cared for by so many people and have things to do all the time. It's still a little odd, because they're definitely one of the younger people there, but it eases that worry that I have had since my older sister moved away (she lived near them, my other sister and I live an hour away) about them not having anyone close by.
It's been an emotional, but very wonderful day, even given the circumstances. My Grandpa would not want any of us to be sad about him being gone. I do miss him, terribly, but I'm just so very glad that he was MY grandfather.