Our extended family has started to arrive as we prepare to say our final goodbyes to my grandpa. Plane tickets have been hard to come by since the Superbowl is being hosted here in Tampa this weekend. Which seems right in an odd way. He was such a big sports fan - especially football.
So many people cared for him. We have been cared for in his honor this week. People we don't know are bringing food to the burgeoning number of hungry mouths at my mom's house. The phone is ringing non-stop.
And I have continued on with life-as-usual in an attempt to...I don't know what. I guess I just thought I'd take off Thursday from work for the service. Somewhere in the middle of the morning today, I thought, "What am I doing?" and I left, crying my way home. I seem to be more tearful as the week progresses and I don't really know why. I suppose it's because I still am coming to terms with the reality that he's gone. He's really gone and even though I kissed his cold forehead goodbye, I still haven't quite wrapped my brain around that fact. It doesn't seem real.
At the same time, I've recounted the story of his passing many times by now, always smiling at the end, telling people and reminding myself that he lived a full & Godly life and that, even in the middle of the sorrow, I am at peace. I know he knew we loved him. We got to sit with him and visit just the day before he left us and I kissed his warm forehead goodbye.
I will probably check out for a bit here as we busily host and serve and mourn and rejoice and allow the hearts and hands of our friends care for us and minister to our needs.
The memorial service is going to be huge, full of music and messages. His brother and two of his sons and countless nephews and in-laws are pastors and everybody wants their turn at the microphone to celebrate him. Their church choir will be singing as well. That doesn't happen for just anybody, you know. But he was one of them for a long time. And they, more than most, understand what it means that heaven has gained one of its most exuberant baritones it will ever see. And we all know how hard it is to come by an exuberant baritone.