This is just a quick hello. I am sorry I haven’t been in touch earlier. The last few days home with my family have just flown by so quickly.
I arrived in Germany safely on Thursday night and was picked up by my BIL. The rest of my family was attending an intercession-service for my Granddad when I got in. We had some dinner at my parents’ house and it was kind of a weird feeling – the joy of seeing my family and the sadness for the occasion of my being here at the same time.
However, my Granddad’s funeral on Friday was everything (and more) that we could have asked for. There were many, many people at the church service at 9 a.m.
My Granddad was a highly decorated “Schütze” (marksman) in the local “Schützenverein” (marksmen club – I have no idea if this translation makes any sense, but it was the only thing I could find on Wikipedia) and he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) a few years ago. There were two big articles and a couple of obituaries in our local newspaper and from that you can tell that he was well-known around here. Many mourners came in their respective uniforms to pay their last respect to my Granddad.
The funeral service was very personal and touching. The pastor – someone who had worked in my Granddad’s congregation for many, many years and who married J and I four years ago – came all the way from Belgium to hold the ceremony. He briefly recapitulated my Granddad’s life which was – save for WWII – a good and happy life revolving around his family and dear friends, and the thought that he is finally – after 28 years – reunited with my Grandma (however that may be) is somewhat consoling. It was also just heart-warming to see so many people show up to say their goodbyes.
There were about 80 people at the luncheon after the burial service. I am not sure if that tradition is wide-spread in the US, but in Germany it is very common to invite family and close friends for a gathering following the funeral. Anecdotes from the past were exchanged and it was a casual atmosphere to commemorate the dead and to celebrate his life. I know many people have mixed feelings about these gatherings following funerals (including myself), but I can positively say that I’ll only have good memories of my Granddad’s funeral reception.
All things considered, it was a really positive experience and I am thankful and glad that I have been able to be here with my family during this emotional and sad time.