Yesterday, we said our final goodbyes and laid him to rest. He is in a good place, at peace and is probably enjoying one heck of a view from his porch in the heavens. What a glorious day the Lord had made, let us rejoice and be glad.
All the stars aligned to make the day perfect, the weather being one of the most thankful factors. I feel slightly hypocritical, as I do not have any photos to show for yesterday. If you heard the words I shared at his visitation/rosary, you would know that I envied my grandfather for his picture taking abilities and photo sharing/storage diligence. And that I would strive to be more like him by continuing to snap family pictures, of events big and small, home and away. Yesterday would certainly be classified as a "big", photo "worthy" type event, I felt, however that these family moments were too sacred to capture with my Nikon. I felt, it appropriate to simply photograph still-frames in my mind and heart rather.
Since I have no visual memories from the day, yet I still crave an outlet to "share" and "recall", so that later I can easily "re-visit", allow me to paint a few mental pictures.
All of our immediate family gathered at the mortuary for one final prayer and private viewing. This was peaceful. Afterwards we were directed towards a large garage where we were invited to travel comfortably in beautiful, pristine white limousines which would escort my Grandpa's hearse across town to St. Bernard's Church (where they'd been lifelong members, since they moved to Omaha back in 1944.) Our 7-vehicle procession to the church began taking us from Center Street to Military Ave, which is quite a jaunt.
I did HAVE TO snap at least one tiny pic with my iPhone. This was Macy's first time in a limo and first time NOT sitting in her car seat (we were informed that it is perfectly acceptable and legal for children not to be restrained due to slow travel speeds and a police escort keeping us safe). With that being said, Macy was THRILLED to be standing on cousin Erika's lap enjoying a big time view of the outside world.
Her tiny hands smeared the windshield, her face pressed firmly against the glass, her eyes were big with "AWE". Oh, how she longs for the day to at least be "front-facing" in her carseat...just a few more pounds to go kid.
All the other 12 grand-kids felt like "royalty". Thanks Grandpa for having this be one of your final wishes for us :-)
The Catholic funeral service at St. Bernards was beautiful and heartfelt. I'll keep those, especially sacred, moments in the church.
The grave-side service, I have to say was the most touching and emotionally gripping part of the day. Being that my Grandfather is a military retiree (he served many years in the U.S. Navy), this entitled him to a military funeral with three volleys of shots fired by "Veteran's of Foreign Wars" honor guard.
An american flag was draped across my Grandpa's casket. After TAPS was sounded on a trumpet and the flag was folded, a member of the honor guard knelt down on one knee and solemnly presented this flag, along with the shell casings, to his wife Peg.
I was standing directly behind my Grandma and could hear clearly what he said to her. These powerful and meaningful words will forever be etched in my mind: "On behalf of the President of the United States and the people of a grateful nation, may I present this flag as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service your loved one rendered this nation. God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America."
How deserving he was of such a dignified and respectable honor!
Not a dry eye could be seen.
After the service we all gathered back at St. Bernard's for a luncheon. This is where, in hindsight, I wish I would have at least a few photos. So many members of our family were present, in one place, at one time...and everyone cleaned so nicely in their black & white "Sunday's best". :)
But no pics were to be had.
Afterwards we chose to take a loooong drive in an effort to get a nap out of the crabby kids. SUCCESS! Then we all ended up over at my uncle Kenny & Aunt Mary's for a BBQ. Just 60 or so of us close family members & Big Mama's Chicken!!!! Mmmm goooood. :).
Again, no pics. :(. Why? No excuses. I was just emotionally drained and too busy relaxing and simply "taking in the moments", that I was just not up for going out to the car to grab the camera. So I didn't. And that's just okay.
The memorial video I made played several times for MANY people to see...I've gotten lots of compliments and sincere "thank you's"...and that right there makes all the time, energy (and tears) and the 100% sleepless night totally worth it. :).
I love you Grandpa. You will be missed by many, but our memories will live on forever! Until we meet again...
My absolute favorite pics of the girls with their Great Grandpa. :-)