Yesterday was the memorial service for my grandfather. (For the Brazilians reading, memorial services and funerals in the US are not immediately after the death. In my grandfather´s case, it was even later than usual because he was cremated and didn´t want a religious ceremony, so my grandmother just planned a small service at home. For the non-Brazilians reading, you may be surprised to know that Brazilian funerals are usually the day after the death, at the latest. Right away.)
Anyway, I couldn´t make it back to the US for the service, so I wrote a speech and had my sister read it for me. I thought I´d share it with you guys.You don´t have to read it if this kind of stuff makes you sad. It´s mostly happy, though.
Once when we were about 13 or 14, Danette and I were staying with Nanny and Grandad for the
holidays, and were here for their New Year's dance of their British club.
Despite my best efforts, I had fallen asleep on the couch before midnight, and I woke up long after the
ball had dropped to some late-night sounds coming from the kitchen.
Curious as always, I padded toward the sounds on Nanny's wonderful carpet and found Grandad in
the kitchen. In front of him were the leftovers of the large sheet cake that he had probably secretly
commandeered for himself while Nanny and the other ladies cleaned up after the dance was over.
There was only about a third of the sheet cake left, and there, at 3:00am, was Grandad, still in the vest
of his suit, shamelessly wiping the bits of icing off of the cake's fake gold cardboard base and happily
sucking his fingers.
He saw me, and grinned slyly. His look said, "I'm not in trouble, because I'm a grown up, and when
you're a grown up, you can gorge yourself on icing at 3:00am too if you'd like."
But what he said was, simply, "I love cake!"
And that, in a nutshell, was my grandad. But he wasn't only a grandfather for us, as most of you know.
He was the man who stepped in as father for Danette and me, and who couldn't have been happier to do
so. This left him with two titles that he took very seriously, and he never missed an opportunity to teach
My grandad taught me how to treat people, how to read, how to drive, and how to move to another
country and call them both home without losing sense of who I am. He taught me that a bit of sarcasm
and wit (or cheek, as he'd say) can get you through most any difficult situation-- even a stroke. He
taught me that a belief in God is a belief in the good of your fellow humans; it is the ability to see
yourself in others and have empathy.
He taught me how to respect the choices of others while still sticking to my principles, and he taught
me that if someone calls you the S word (stubborn...), well... that's their choice to think that, and you
should respect their choice. (But you're still right.)
He also taught me some not so metaphorical metaphors about life, or, more specifically, how to play it
by ear, how to play my cards right, and how to keep the grass from growing under my feet.
Through his love for Nanny, Grandad taught me how to expect to be treated by my husband: with
nothing but mutual patience and respect. Their marriage has shown me what pure, true love is, and
how to know it when I found it.
Through his love for living, Grandad taught me what making the most of life means; he was a man who
found pleasure in the big and the small things alike, therefore turning the small things into great big
things too: music, the sea, a good book, and a perfect peace of cake.