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My Grandfather’s Memorial

June 4, 2009

About seven weeks ago my Grandfather (My Father’s Father), passed away. Since my brother and I (and my parents for that matter), are always spread out it took awhile to find a suitable time for the entire family to gather for the memorial service. But it finally about this past Sunday, and it was extremely touching and powerful. I’ve always loved and admired my Grandfather, but after reading more stories about him, and hearing stories from others, it was so incredibly inspiring to see what a truly great man to be. It incredibly sad to see him go, but after the service it feels so good to know he live a full and well-lived life, and it made me proud to be able to say I was his Grandson.

The service started about 10AM, in a small hall in my Grandfather’s nursing home. It was the same hall where my Grandmother had her service many years before, so it was fitting. At the front of the hall a family friend had constructed a beautiful floral bouquet bearing two artifacts of his two main lifelong passions: fly-fishing (his old bamboo rod) and photography (his old camera). As 10AM rolled around and people continued to shuffle in. By the time people got seated there was standing room only, an incredible feat (I felt) for a 95 year-old man who had outlived most of his friends. My Uncle introduced the ceremony after playing one of my Grandfather’s favorite songs (he was also a life-long music lover). The ceremony then continued on with my brother and I reading a letter my Dad wrote to his father (he felt he could not read it without breaking down). Afterwards, my brother and I spoke separate pieces, then my cousins spoke. After that a beautiful slideshow that my Mother constructed (I was very proud of her first dive into directing), and then more words by my Uncle. I won’t go into great detail, but I will say I was so touched and proud of my entire family during the familial element of the service. It was so very clear that there was so much love shared during his lifetime.

But was impressed me the most were the stories of Maddy that continued after the family. I knew that he was very loved, and so admired by his family, but the comments afterwards added a whole new dimension to this incredible man. My Grandfather raised my father in Scarsdale (NY), but developed a piece of land on Lake Doolitte, just outside Norfolk, CT. He was an avid outdoorsman, and needed to get away from the city. What I didn’t realize, was the impact that he had on the Lake Community. The Chairmen of the Lake Comittee came, and spoke of how important my Grandfather was in the development of the beauty of the Lake. He was the first year-round resident of the Lake, and organized many of the brush and trail clearing effort of the Lake. He is responsible for many of the hiking trails that surround the area, clearing the fields so that blueberry bushes could grow, and he was responsible for much of the ecological preservation of the lake. The chairman of the Norfolk Golf Club also came, and spoke about the “long letters” my Grandfather would write, telling them ways they could make the course more beautiful. Adding a tree here, cut bushes here, add a lake. Begrudingly he admited they followed many of his requests, and the course is more beautiful today because of it. Much of the nursing staff also showed up, telling tales how they loved tending to “Mr. Madison.” Of course there were also tales of his curmudgeonry. A lifelong friend of my father’s and fishing pal to my Grandfather told how he once invited him up to fish on the lake, only to later realize he was there to be his personal rower. But he also said he was forever grateful for giving him the passion of fishing, something which has defined his life more than anything else. It was such a great tribute to the man, and I stood so tall that day. I was so proud to be able to call him my Grandfather.

I think we would all be so lucky to be able to pass away as loved, admired, and as fulfilled as my Grandfather.


One Comment leave one →
  1. June 8, 2009 7:31 am

    What a lovely, touching piece about your grandfather… We can only hope he
    really knew how much he was loved.

    Love you – Mom

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