A Celebration of Life

On what would’ve been Granddad’s 92nd birthday (January 15), I’d like to share a bit more about the services we held to celebrate his life on December 27 at my mother’s house in Decker Prairie, Texas. True to form, Granddad had already planned his funeral service and gave instructions on what hymns he’d like played and what the program should look like. We tried to follow his wishes as closely as possible.

The service was lead by Chaplain Laura Ammon who spent time with Granddad in his final weeks. My husband and I designed the program – you can take a look at it below. He specifically requested Abide with Me and Battle Hymn of the Republic so we had the lyrics printed and all sang along together. Nigel and Nick had especially touching words to share, and I did my best to get through the two prayers that Granddad recently shared with my mom from his childhood (see A Quick Memory from Ken (and Christine)).


Chaplain Laura closed the service with a lovely poem by Henry Van Dyke.

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other. 

Then, someone at my side says;
“There, she is gone!” 

“Gone where?”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. 

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
“Here she comes!”

Around the room we placed mementos from Granddad’s life: his diplomas, a very small sampling of his large boomerang collection, a few of his carvings, several of his paintings hung around the room, and copies of his book were available for anyone who may not already have one. A wonderful slideshow of pictures and videos created by my sister Megan played on the large screen along with a playlist of songs that Granddad liked or that reminded us of him (including Yellow Submarine, Fields of Gold, In My Life, Crazy, Memory, and Dancing Queen, to name a few).

The service was attended by family and friends from all walks of Granddad’s life. Many others were with us in spirit.

While it was a somber occasion, I think Granddad would have been pleased that we ended the day with games, card tricks, and attempting to put spoons on our faces (he was a master of this trick).

Nigel noted that Granddad always liked to joke that there were often parades across the country on his birthday (he shared a birthday with Martin Luther King, Jr.), and that he would’ve been pleased that the flags were at half mast for 30 days as he passed away on the same day as President George H. W. Bush. I hope he knows that many people are thinking of him and missing him, especially today on his birthday. Rest in Peace, Granddad.


2 thoughts on “A Celebration of Life

  1. Beautiful, Christine. I later realized how important it was for us to laugh that evening and how brilliant John was in making that happen. Thanks also to your mom Melanie, and David for putting it all together.


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