Saturday, July 18, 2009

Simple Things

The journey of grieving has many twists and turns. It presents crossroads and fellow travelers. There are unexpected delays and few shortcuts. The path, although well traveled, remains uncharted.

Knowing that her great grandfather was close to the end, I told my granddaughter that his bags were packed and he was ready to go to heaven. She wanted me to ask him to say hello to her pre-school teacher who had died the year before. She thought maybe they could have a tea party when he arrived at heaven's gate. I did tell him. He died a few hours later.

It made telling my granddaughter easier, I suppose. I told her that Fa was so excited to hear about the tea party, he decided to go right away. This seemed reasonable to her.

"What will be on his headstone?" she asked. I told her that Fa wanted to be buried at sea since he loved fishing so much. There would be no headstone. This, too, seemed reasonable to her. Orville had chosen to be cremated but I did not think this was an explanation I wanted to tackle with a 6 year old.

The next day, she asked if Fa had been buried yet. I told her no. She wanted to know where he was. I replied, in heaven at the tea party. She said it didn't seem right not to have a rock or a stone on the beach, so we would know where he was buried.
"It's important to know," she said. I told her we would think about it and find someway to mark where he was.

On Fathers Day she sang Amazing Grace for him. Although he didn't know who was singing the sweet melody, his eyes lit up and a smile came to his lips. She wanted to sing it again for him. We will plan a memorial in a few weeks and promised her she could sing it for him then.

A fisherman, with nothing more than a high school sophomore education, is dearly loved by a small little girl, who for most of her life, he didn't know. Yet she remembers and wants to keep on remembering. Not through tears but through the simple things, a song, a stone - bookmarks to return to, a place to honor, a moment in time that says he was here.

The journey continues.