Show Him the Way

It was early March. The year was 1998. I was halfway through my freshman year at college. I was in the midst of working my way through my pre-requisite classes while trying to discover who I was. While preparing for my next mundane class I received a phone call than would send me packing a suitcase rather than a book bag.

My Pap had been sick. His doctors were doing everything they could to fix him, but we all knew the situation was not a good one. This phone call from my tearful mother was that my Pap, her daddy, has passed away.

Over the years I have learned that the closer you are to someone, the more of a blur their funeral and the days leading up to it are. My memories of the funeral home are mashed together with the days at the funeral home when my own dad passed away. Both were sad events where I had to try and make conversation with family I hardly knew. But being the oldest of the cousins, much of my job was making sure the younger ones stayed out of the way.

St. Anne's Church Castle ShannonMy Pap's funeral itself is also a blur. I'm sure it was a beautiful ceremony, but I was hypnotized by the beauty of the images that surrounded me. The floor to ceiling gold wall behind the towering cross that hung above the altar. The ornate stained glass windows full of blues, golds, and greens. The round window above the main entrance was my favorite. It was full of more reds than the others. Even though the sun was not shining that day, they still glowed. From an early age, I always gazed at that window with a picture of the Rose Window from Notre Dame in my head. Many years later, seeing the Rose Window in person brought me back to that day early in March of 1998.

Leaving the church we proceeded to the cemetery. A cemetery I had also spent many days wondering through, reading tomb stones. Wondering what their stories were. My Pap's site was in the lower half of the cemetery, the original part that was over a hundred years old. His final resting place was towards the bottom of the hill.

Walking to my Pap's site I remember wishing for an umbrella. The sky was full of gray and gloomy clouds. A light rain was falling, almost as if the sky was crying with us. As the priest read his final prayer, the sun began to shine through a small opening in the clouds. The circle on the ground from the shining sun was soon full of small, brown birds. No one paid any mind to the sun or the birds. But me? They brought one of the biggest smiles to my young freckled face.

As a young girl I remember watching the birds at the bird feeder with my Pap through his kitchen window. We would pull out the bird books and try to figure out what each bird was.

This moment, while brief, was welcoming. Not only to me, but I think for my Pap.

I do not know if there is a God. This is a belief I struggle with. There have been many times in my life where I have wondered why a loving god would let such horrible things happen. There are also things I have seen that make me think there is a god. This day was one of those days. It very well may have been a coincidence, but I believe that the skies had opened up that gloomy day and sent the birds my Pap loved to show him the road to his next destination.

I miss my Pap each and every day, especially now that I have my own children. I'm sure he would have taken them out for ice cream as he did with me. He probably would have bought them another cone when they dropped the first one on the sidewalk, as I always did. When I reflect on that tear filled time of my life, I soon smile because the sun and the birds come rushing back to me.

Remembe (red): A Memoir Meme
by the Red Dress Club

This week's prompt:
Memory and Reflection


Andrea (ace1028) said...

Thank you for sharing that memory with us. I'm sure that bringing it up for yourself in such a way was vivid (that much I could tell, you made it vivid for me as I was reading) and emotional for you. Again, thanks for sharing. I'm sorry your family lost your Pap. :(

Kmama said...

You brought tears to my eyes. That was a beautiful post. And I do believe that someone/something was there showing him the way!

Kristin said...

What a great post. I have few memories from either of my grandpas' funerals. I do have many fantastic memories of each of them, though!

KLZ said...

It's so hard to lose a loved one - especially someone who sounds as great as your Pap.

Shell said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Babes Mami said...


Cheryl said... very touching. I love that the birds were there.

My husband's grandmother was hit by a car and killed a week before our wedding. In every picture of our ceremony, there is a bird flying, which we imagine was her.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I think God gives us signs like that all of the time. We're just not always willing to see them.

Brandy@YDK said...

a very lovely post. thank you for sharing.

MultitaskMumma said...

This is beautifully written!!
Your image of the skies opening up is wonderful.
Thank you for taking us into that memory with you

MultitaskMumma said...

This is beautifully written!!
Your image of the skies opening up is wonderful.
Thank you for taking us into that memory with you

Lisa said...

sweet sweet post!
My dad is called pap by the grands. I think that is a wonderful word.
I miss my pepaw...

Karen Peterson said...

I love that there are so many stories about grandparents on this blog hop. It's too bad that they can't all be happy. It sounds like my grandpa was a lot like yours and I still miss mine too.

kate hopper said...

This is so lovely. I love the details of the church, that surreal feeling of being a a funeral. Wonderful writing!