Pecan trees and coffee nips.

May 21, 2010

Three weeks ago today my family celebrated my grandfather's 81st birthday while sitting at his funeral. He passed away while working in his garden and I hopped on a quick flight from Arizona to Mississippi to be with my family.

It was a bittersweet time in that I hadn't been to Mississippi to visit my dad's side of the family in almost three years. While sad that this is how it had to happen, I am glad I got to be there. We celebrated my grandfather's life on that day and left him with his birthday cards. He received an honorable ceremony with the flag on his casket to memorialize his time serving our country.

On Friday, his birthday, we all headed over to the funeral home to see our grandfather, father and husband. We made our way into the visitation room where he was laying in his pecan casket.

All I could see was that his hands didn't look natural. They were off to his side instead of crossed across his stomach and I made it clear that they needed to be fixed. While it couldn't be fixed, it reminded me that everyone grieves in different ways. Some people need the visual of the body in the casket to know that all is said and done. Others don't need that at all; they would rather only remember that person in the flesh, alive and well. I fall into the latter category.

I spent a lot of time walking around my grandmother's house that weekend, soaking in every memory I could. I'm not sure when I'll be able to make it back that way.

I was my Pop-Pop's first grandchild and there was seven more after me.

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When we were younger we would sneak into his back bedroom and steal his Nips, a coffee flavored candy. I found these at Walgreen's just a few months ago and I now keep them at my desk. Little reminders.

In his backyard is pecan tree that has been there since before I was born. Pecans would fall from the branches and we would spend our summer visits cracking their shells and piling them up in a bowl. The pecan tree is the first thing I thought of when I heard the news.

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He lived a long life following our God and our family is comforted knowing where he rests today. His body was simply a shell to the great spirit that he embodied.

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On the Saturday after Pop-Pop's funeral, the family gathered in the backyard and worked on the garden. We planted flowers, pulled weeds, and watered the grass.

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All for him and all for my grandmother who just lost her gardener.


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