Friday, October 2, 2009

Sad celebrations

Yesterday was my sweet Grandpa's funeral.

As funerals go, it was wonderful. I cried and cried, but not for sorrow - for "there is no sorrow in death, there is only sorrow in sin." I don't know who said that, but that quote has given me much comfort over the last week or so.

Instead I cried for joy and gratitude. I cried for my selfishness because I wanted more time with him. I cried for the heroism of my sweet Grandma who honored Grandpa's wish of not being kept alive without any quality of life. I cried for the memory of my sweet Grandpa and knowing he will still be with me. I cried wondering if I could make something of my life that he would be proud of - although, he told me over and over before he died that he was proud of me already and that he loved me.

Over the 6 weeks of Grandpa's battle with cancer, he seemed to be the one comforting everyone else. He prepared his funeral program a month ago and called me to his bedside because he had some "business" he wanted to discuss with me.

In the quiet of my parents bedroom I sat on the edge of the bed next to my Grandpa. He reached for my hand, squeezed it and told me what the "business" was that we needed to discuss.

"Now this may not be for another few months or years, but I want to discuss this with you while I am still master of my faculties," Grandpa said. He proceeded to tell me that he wanted me to be in charge of the music for his funeral.

I looked into his face and watched it blur as the tears started filling my eyes and spilling down my cheeks.

He must have known how hard it was for me to even talk about or acknowledge the possibility of his passing, because he put his arms around me and held me and let me cry.

Then he asked me to take some notes about the musical numbers he would like, but said that he would leave the final decisions about the music up to me.

As I played the violin yesterday, I was overpowered by the realization that I was fulfilling a promise that I had hoped not to have to fulfill for a long, long time. I know Grandpa was with me though, because there were several times that my mind was not on my music at all and I don't know how else to explain my relatively decent performances.

My mom and her siblings did all the speaking parts of the service and they could not have paid better tribute to Grandpa if they had had a year to prepare. Their talks were equally tender and uplifting.

It was truly a celebration of Grandpa's life and I can't help but think that he was pleased.

On a different note, it was my sweet Molly's birthday yesterday as well.

It was gut-wrenching for me to think of not being there with her to keep up all of our family birthday traditions, but I hope someday she will understand why I couldn't be there. Dan is such a wonderful dad, though, and he did the best he could to make the day special for her. He made her a red velvet cake from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting to boot.

I called her in the morning yesterday and sang Happy Birthday to her along with 8 or 10 of my extended family members who were around the phone with me. It was small consolation for me, as I would have exchanged our rousing chorus for one love from my Molly girl in a heartbeat. I wanted to hold her and love her so badly that I'm sure part of the ache in my heart yesterday was for her.

Molly, you are such a dear girl. You bring such happiness and joy to my life. Thank you for trying so hard to do your best in all you do. You are a good girl and I love you so very, very much. I'll see you soon and we'll have another fun birthday celebration.

And so, yesterday was a day of sad celebrations. One of a life well lived, and one of a life just beginning.


  1. Michelle, this is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so sad that I couldn't be there. I heard everything was so beautiful and it just made me cry that I wasn't there to play Ashokan Farewell with you. At least Grandpa got to hear us play it several times. And your sweet tribute to Molly... holy cow, I am just crying all over the place. I love you so much. Hopefully we'll get to see each other before my baby comes!

  2. Hi Shelley,

    What a beatiful tribute to your grandpa. I am so grateful that I was able to attend his funeral. It was so nice to see all of the Allsop family again. I definitely wish it were under different circumstances. You guys did a WONDERFUL job with the music. The angels of heaven were there that day.

    Molly will understand that you had to be with GGPa and that is why you weren't there for her birthday. Little children are the most forgiving, loving creatures I've ever met. I'm sure 'GGPa' will visit your kidlets frequently. It's amazing at how thin the veil between them and heaven is.

    Love you!

  3. Sorry I'm very late posting this. I'm so sorry to hear of your Grandpa's passing. That is so awesome you were able to do the music for the funeral.