In April, I attended my second funeral.
My first funeral was 6 years ago, in Mexico for my Grandpa Memmott or Abuelito — my mother’s father. Some funerals are tragic – you grieve the death of someone who left before their time, before they got a chance to live a full life, someone who left things undone. I have known a few people that died young and I wish I would have made it to their funerals. One in particular was my high school math teacher – she was only in her twenties and died in a rock climbing accident in the middle of my junior year. My junior high/high school was very small and she was my math teacher for 4 years starting in 7th grade for algebra and died in the middle of my junior year as my calculus teacher. She was a great person and role model and our whole school grieved her death – the loss of a great teacher and the loss of a great person before she really had a chance to live a full life.
However, other deaths are not as tragic. When death comes in old age, after someone has lived a long and good life, when they have a chance to say good-bye to those they love, it is sad but not tragic. This was my Abuelito’s funeral. His wife, 8 children, and 20 plus grandchildren and other family & friends, came together to celebrate a good man’s life. He was in his eighties and many had had a chance to say good-bye before he passed. We were sad that he was gone and he wasn’t perfect, but he was good. He had lived a long life and had been a part of our lives. At the funeral, we had the opportunity to reminisce and hear stories about Abuelo. When my parents got divorced I was nine and my Grandma & Grandpa Memmott lived with us for a couple years. My Abuelito read me & my sister scriptures in the morning and would walk us to the bus stop. He also taught me how to mow the lawn and helped me and my sister and cousins build a tree house and club house. So, while the funeral had tears and sadness, it also was a celebration of a good man that had lived a long life and touched our lives for the better. Isn’t that what we all want?
Last month, I attended my second funeral. This was for Ben’s grandpa – his Grandpa Munyan, and was my first time meeting any of Ben’s extended family. Like my Abuelo, Grandpa Munyan was also in his 80s and from what I know he was also not perfect but a good man. It was a quiet military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, as he served in the Army for many years and fought in Korea. Like my Abuelo, he seemed to have lived a full life but I still felt sorrow. Not like my teacher, for the life she missed – because he lived a long full life. Not like my Abuelo, for missing him being gone – because I never met him. Sorrow for a missed opportunity. I grieved never getting to meet or getting to know an interesting man. Ben hadn’t seen him in 18 years. He grew up less than an hour away and he grieved not seeing his Grandpa and hearing his stories as a kid & teenager. For the last 4.5 years, we had lived an hour away and had sent Christmas cards and meant to find out his phone number and plan a visit … but it never happened. Life got too busy and it felt intimidating to be the one to reach out. We grieved a missed opportunity. An opportunity to learn about and from a good man. An opportunity to get to know a part of Ben’s history.
On the bright side, we met many interesting family members whom we had never met or hadn’t seen in years. It was a time to hear a few stories about Grandpa Munyan and make some new connections.
As Anne of Green Gables says, “Life is too short to hold grudges.” Life is amazing and there are some wonderful people in it. Let’s not waste time and energy being angry and judging. Let’s not make mountains out of molehills. Let’s move past our differences and find our common ground. We don’t have to agree on everything, we can agree to disagree. We can respect each other and be there for each other. We will make mistakes and hurt each others feeling but we can make amends and move on.
Personally I love family. I loved growing up with my cousins and being best friends with my sister and cousin my age. Uncles and aunts who tease and help you out. Grandparents who share their life’s wisdom. We don’t all agree on everything, but family is about being there for each other, loving each other, and helping each other. I hope my funeral is a long way away, but when it comes I hope I qualify as family to many people. I hope I’ve loved, helped, and been there for people. I hope I’ve touched a few lives for the better.
Here’s to living life to the fullest and enjoying every day! Cheers!