After the funeral for my grandma (Margaret 'Iris' Fandrich) concluded on Saturday I finally felt relaxed. I felt a weight had been lifted knowing that everything came together, that the family was united, and that the service (due largely to family members speaking) managed to encapsulate so many of the stories and eccentricities of who my grandma was. I couldn't help but feel happy and joyful about the send off.
It was the perfect remedy for what so many of us were feeling, and I suppose that's always the goal. I loved that the service was focused on celebrating her life and her family through personal recollections without being weighed down by disingenuous preaching. The funeral felt true to her, true to us, and felt so much more meaningful and honest as a result. It was a beautiful occasion filled with love.
When I received the call in the middle of the night on Monday last week, I was the one to call my parents to deliver the unfortunate news. They were out of reach as they had just left a few days before on a trip to the Maritimes. My grandma's passing meant they'd have to fly back early and discuss the details of the funeral from afar. The whole experience made me feel a bit out of the loop without having them in town.
On Friday we gathered at my aunt and uncle's house, my parents included, as I helped with some last minute technical details to prepare a video and slideshow for the funeral. If there's one bright spot to heavy situations like these it's that they give everyone a sense of purpose and dedication. We all felt compelled to step up, to support one another, and to find ways to express ourselves. Helping with the videos and acting as a pallbearer were small contributions on my part, but they made me feel more connected to everything that was going on. Sometimes that's invaluable.
Rupali (Iris' great-granddaughter) created this beautiful video for the funeral.
As various members of my family got up to speak during the service I began recounting the numerous memories that I shared with my grandma. It hit me how unique all of our experiences really were, and how so many of us were fortunate to build personal relationships with her despite our varying locations, ages, and interests. With no shortage of stories to tell, I feel like we laughed as much as we cried that day.
One of the most emotional points for me however, was when my dad and my sister each shared their memories of Grandma. There's something that makes you totally vulnerable seeing members of your immediate family cry, not to mention when it's your father. I felt so protective of their emotions at the time. Of course, many of their experiences were also my own, and a funeral like this is such a rare and powerful occasion that it forces you to recognize the significance of those still pivotal in your life. It was heartbreaking and energizing at the same time.
With grandma's five kids and the extended family reunited there were more reasons to celebrate that day. I can't remember the last time so many of us were in one place, but if I had to guess I'd say it was my grandpa's funeral over a decade ago. Not to be outdone, and to serve the running joke that I like to photograph my feet, I made sure to get a picture with my siblings too. We looked so good, haha.
After everything that's happened now, I'm at peace knowing it couldn't have gone any better than it did. I've got an amazing family filled with love and support, and while I already knew that, this entire week simply reaffirmed it. I'll always miss my grandma and will continue to honor and cherish the role she played in my life, but above all, I'll remain thankful that I was fortunate to even know her for as long as I did. There's no doubt in my mind that I had it pretty good, and for that I can't help but smile.