The memorial for my Grandpa was yesterday, and it was perfect. The memorial captured what he was all about perfectly. I was honored to be a speaker, here is what I had to say:
Hello. For those who don’t know me, I am Jessica, Joe’s oldest grandchild.
One thing that makes me very happy is that my Grandpa could be there on my wedding day in Yosemite. He even did my flowers for that day, and that is something I will never forget. Something that makes me a sad, is that my future children will never know the wonderful man, my Grandpa.
My Grandpa led a full and wonderful life. Just over two weeks ago, when we found out the cancer and moved into his lungs, I said to him, this is scary and horrible, but one day, when I am 78, I hope to look back and realize I did half as many incredible things as you. You traveled the world, you married your true love, you had three beautiful children, you celebrated your 50th anniversary in Africa with your entire family, and you changed many many people’s lives for the better.
The reason I am up here today is not to tell sad stories, but to tell happy, funny stories about the wonderful man I knew as Grandpa Joe. As many of you know, Joe and Barbara traveled the world together. They would often leave the country for two or more weeks to explore places many of us only dream of going. When they left, they needed to have someone watch their house, garden and dog. My husband E and I loved this job.
But, the thing we loved the most was my Grandpa’s hot tub in the backyard. It was a tiny little thing, in the middle of a beautiful wooded area of the yard. My Grandpa loved this little hot tub, and soaked in it everyday at 4:00 pm. When he was away, E and I loved it just as much. Grandpa knew this, and was happy to have us use the hot tub, but he had one rule- no swimsuits! Can you imagine my then boyfriend’s face when he is getting instructions from my Grandfather “you can use the hot tub- but no swimsuits allowed!” E was mortified; he couldn’t believe that my Grandpa was telling him to soak naked, with his granddaughter, who was also supposed to be naked! So, of coarse, we followed directions, we really had no choice!
The next time we were over, getting directions to house-sit, my Grandpa looked both E and I in the eyes, and said, “Remember, no swimsuits in the hot tub! Last time, I think you wore them (which we had not) and swimsuits make the water cloudy” E and I still laugh about those conversations to this day, and it is one of my favorite memories of my Grandpa.
Another favorite memory is when we celebrated Grandpa Joe’s birthday on the Serengeti in Africa. Joe and Barbara decided to take the entire family to Africa to celebrate their 50th anniversary. While there, Grandpa turned 77, we ate, sang, drank and laughed under the incredible African night sky. It is something I will never forget.
I want to end with a poem that my Grandpa enjoyed. He safely tucked it into a file that was supposed to be opened after he died, so, these are some words from his heart:
Don't cry at my grave, because I won't be there
I'll be in the breeze that ruffles your hair
I'll be in the sunshine, I'll be in the snow
I'll be in the places we used to go
I'll be in the memories, and in the funny things
I'll be in your shadow, and there in your dreams
I'll be in your greetings, but not in your goodbyes
I'll be in the reflection of your loving eyes
I'll always love you, and I'll always care
So don't cry at my grave site, because I won't be there