I had never been to a funeral before i was your pall bearer. You weren't the first person I knew who died, but I had never gone before. And when we carried you the Preist told us comforting words, none of which I believed. He said you were alive in heaven. That didn't matter to me. You are alive in my memory. Every time you lifted me up on your big, strong arm. Every time you laughed that deep laugh. Sometimes I would hear you sing, so deep it almost scared me.
You were a man of summer. I saw you always at the cabin. You would sit in your chair by the window, and take us fishing at night.
Grandma sold that chair. I think it's best that way.
I didn't always love you. At least I didn't always love you right. I thought, sometimes, that you weren't a good man. You hated the Iraqis. And you were meen sometimes. You were sexist and told me I couldn't drive the boat until I was sixteen, even though Nick and the cousins drove it at thirteen. You couldn't have toasted a peice of bread without Grandma.
But sitting at your funeral I realized what a good man you were. When they stood up one by one in the big dusty church. Old women with wobbly voices who laughed at out-dated jokes, and men who had played too much golf. They stood up and talked about your work with the ophanages. About the time you helped this woman and that. Someone made everyone laugh reminding them of the time you were audited by the IRS, simply because they didn't believe anyone would give away that much money. And you accepted your gay son.
Grandma told me about how you stood behind my dad in all his work. Stood behind him even when you'd get phone calls at 3am saying "your son is dead and we're glad." Stood behind him even though you had never voted democratic before and you were the only ones in town who's son was against the war. And you were proud of him.
And Daddy told me about when you changed things in the church. When you heard Dr King say that "10 o'clock on Sunday is the most segrigated hour in America" and you worked to get the church intigrated.
I thought about all this on the boat last night. We were out on the lake cruising about and watching the sunset.
I realized none of it mattered.
You taught me to fish, that's what matters.
Thank you, Grandpa, for every favor that went unthanked.