I went to a funeral on Friday. The deceased was the grandfather of a friend. He was also a client of the hubby's. I'd met him a few times. I remembered him as a very friendly man who was very proud of his granddaughter. She was our connection, and he was pleased to meet me, I felt, because of my relationship to her. That was several years ago, before I even thought of her as friend, to be honest. She was a market board member. She was someone in the growing field of "people I now know" in our new home of Emporia. Making these connections, matching grandfathers to granddaughters, is part of the process of becoming a member of a community when you are new.
I have had the good fortune to get to know this man's daughter, as well. She was my most faithful volunteer in my first years working as the market manager. I got to know her on our frequent Saturday mornings together. I absorbed her stories about her daughter, about her own grandkids, about her mother who had recently passed away, and her husband, also recently gone. I missed her this past year, when a new marriage and life events took her elsewhere for our usual Saturdays. We would hug when our paths crossed and we'd catch up, as best we could, and I would feel, again, as if my roots had grown deeper in this community. I loved the way she called her father, Daddy. It made my heart ache to hear the stories as she watched him decline and cared for him as his health failed. Her smile kept going strongly.
I don't usually expect to grow teary-eyed over the death of people I've known from a distance, people I've known for very little time, to be honest. Yet I pulled out a tissue as I listened to the stories, the letters written by daughters and granddaughter, and I felt proud to have known this man for a brief moment, but moreso to know his family and to have the opportunity to know them better in years to come.
I left a funeral today feeling inspired to be a more generous and kinder person. To be the kind of person Bill Wygle would have called friend. To be the kind of person to whom people say their goodbyes with tears and good stories and hugs... and even some laughter.