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19 February, 2009

Celebration of Life

This post originally appeared in my private blog on February 19, 2009

It's been a week since I went to Florida for my grandpa's (Papa, as we called him) funeral. It still hasn't really sunk in. I cried harder yesterday than I have all week. This Blog is more for me that anyone else. There are a few photos included just to tell the story. My cousin Paul's wife took pictures at the wake, funeral, and burial, something I never would have thought to do, but I am glad to have them now.

Despite losing "The Leader of the Band", as my dad called him, my family truly enjoyed spending time together. Ever since my family moved to Atlanta and all the cousins went to college, we really haven't seen each other. For the first time in our "adult" lives, we were able to have good conversation; catch up; celebrate marriages, engagements, and babies; and remember the family tie that binds.

Friday night was the wake. I was BLOWN away by the friends and family from past and present who came to pay their respects and/or be there to support the family. There were five or six of the wait staff from the old restaurant, some of my aunts/uncle's ex-spouses (and their families!!!), as well as some of our friends who had never even met Papa. We met Nana's brother for the first time, and Papa's nephews and their kids. It was so amazing to spend such a sad day surrounded by the love and support of our family and friends.

Saturday morning was the funeral. Here's where the best God-incidence came into play: Friday as we were driving to the funeral home, we past an area of St. Pete that looked familiar. I remembered it because my friend Ruth had worked at Sacred Heart during her ACE years just two blocks away. I remembered that Fr. John (Life Teen's, Fr. J) was the pastor there. For a second we joked about how awesome it would be if the funeral was there and he was the celebrant. Sure enough, that is exactly where and who celebrated the funeral Mass!!!!! What was truly incredible, is the way he taught the faith and taught through the funeral rituals. Most of my family is fallen away, so I just LOVED how Fr. John used this as a teachable moment. He was seriously the light of Christ during a dark day.

Saturday afternoon was the burial and luncheon. Now, anyone who knows my grandfather, knows he is a smart businessman, and loves a good deal, especially one involving real estate. Now, a few years ago he purchase a "plot" for him and my grandmother. Except its not an in-the-ground one. "It's in a condo," he always told us. Last year the cemetery built new "condos", so he sold the old ones and got two new ones, "with a third floor sunset view," he always joked. As soon as the burial (is it still called that when you go in a wall?) concluded, my brothers and uncles started joking that Papa probably got a good pre-construction price on the new plots, and made a profit in the sales of the old one. They were good jokes that the whole family appreciated and helped ease the tension and set the mood for the fun stories that would be told later at the luncheon.

Saturday night, the cousins went out to celebrate our reunion and Papa's life. Corey, one of my cousins, is a valet for a nice club....or something like he had connections to lots of clubs downtown. He hooked us up with a private room and lots and lots of liquor. Oh, did I mention when he called to order the Cuban cigars, the guy was hand rolling them? Yeah. The night was AMAZING! I haven't laughed and partied like that in a long, long time.

On the way home, reality quickly set back in. Eric and I were driving home (he was actually driving) when out of nowhere we were rear ended by a hit and run driver. We're both okay, but both really annoyed! The cops and ambulance came to examine us and write up the police report it. Fortunately, my dad and I had my deductable lowered after the last accident, and since it was a hit and run, I only have to pay half of that. I will also get a free rental car for a while too. Whew.


Today, I'm just going to dance it out.
I know God has a plan in ALL of this :)

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