Farewell to Grandpa
On the day of Grandpa’s funeral
God covered the sun with clouds
And wept with us.
We drove into the country,
His daughter and I,
Following a path of crimson- and gold-colored trees.
The car stopped, umbrellas popped
There behind a still, ivory hearse.
And in we went to grasp the layout of the church,
The same building where Grandpa spoke
Of the happy day, The Homecoming.
“This is it,” we said.
Soon enough, dark-clothed mourners arrived,
Trailed by wee ones wearing pressed shirts, half-tucked.
Grieving eyes searched neighboring faces,
Discerning the approach:
Do we smile or cry?
Ripping through sad thoughts, squeals of restless children
Pierced the frozen air while nervous mothers chased behind.
Finally, young ones nestled into the nursery,
And those able to comprehend (in part) gathered in a room
With Grandpa’s earthly form,
The restful representation of the one we knew.
A door, horizontally placed, slowly closed to gasps of reluctance
As the flag-draped coffin whispered promises
Of safe and gentle keeping.
Solemnly, we marched into the sanctuary,
A purple floral window above,
Orange and yellow flowers before,
And that heavy, wooden cross behind the altar.
Words, spoken by daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter,
Created the condensed visual of a vibrant life:
A robust man who, with comrades, combed sloughs for crawfish
And bore his educator’s soul to a hope-filled young lady
In a little town in Minnesota.
They told of a family graced by a man
Both stern and sweet in his day;
One who knew how to love in myriad forms.
Later, as songs lilted upward, along with the newly-released, ready soul,
Healing tears watered faces, cleansing the heart
To ready it for new life to come.
Outside, a parade of cars quietly rolled
On rolling hills out of town
And next to stalks of fading, wrinkled corn husks
We stood, shivering, by the tombstone that will herald our dear one.
The grandchildren, in suits and dresses, hoisted the body
Of the one who had carried them so many times before
Into its place of repose.
And at that moment, words, though unspoken, rang out: “Soon and very soon,”
With the folding of striped and starred flag and ringing of Taps.
After a final pause and retreat, we circled back through water-soaked, muddy grass,
To drive toward fellowship and food;
Food meant to warm the body,
Remind us of life,
Nourish us into tomorrow.