At my mother’s request, I wrote and read aloud a brief eulogy for my grandpa during his funeral on Friday, August 29. I composed the speech in a way that it could be easily translated into Cantonese by the chaplain (who did a wonderful job and delivered a beautiful service).
“When I was younger, I used to want to be like GohGoh. I used to try on his black rubber boots even when they were way too big for me. Despite the fact that I fell over when I first wore them, I would still try to walk around in those boots, pretending I could fix everything in the house just like he could. I wanted to be as strong and capable as GohGoh.
But I didn’t have an idea at that age that he was even more wonderful than I originally thought. Over the years as I got older, especially in the last few weeks, people would share stories about him that surprised me.
I learned that he retired in his seventies without ever missing work, personally handing back his company 4 months of sick days he never used. That when he worked as the head engineer on a cargo ship, he sailed all over the world from Australia to Germany. He never pressured any of his 5 children and 10 grandchildren to do anything we didn’t want to do; he only asked that we work hard and for us get back up if we fell behind. He hated the idea of anyone he loved going hungry and found the biggest joy in seeing all of us have dim sum together — his treat, of course. Even when his health declined and he struggled to drink water, he still found the strength to smile at all of us many times, to let us know that he was okay — that we shouldn’t worry. So modest a person, he would probably be embarrassed that I’m saying all these things about how great he was.
Without GohGoh, the world is now a little less happy and a little less bright. No one will ever know another man as kindhearted, hardworking, honest, reliable, and humble as him. We will always love him and miss him. But I know GohGoh wouldn’t want us to be sad forever. He would want us to find happiness, to surround ourselves with the people we love, and to take care of each other. We would all be lucky to have a life half as fulfilling as his was.
I hope he has found peace. Thank you.”
I wrote it to commemorate “the greatest man in the world” and for my grandma, who was especially crushed by the loss. I want to give her hope.
The funeral was heartfelt and sad and touching all at once. I was really happy to see so many people in attendance, including those who weren’t even related to us but still made time during a weekday to come. The musically-inclined chaplain also played the song “Edelweiss” from my grandpa’s favorite film A SOUND OF MUSIC on his guitar, which made me burst into tears.
My grandpa was then buried at a very nice site with a great view of the foggy green hills, surrounded by cypress trees.
Since this is an “artsy” blog, below are some photos of paper flowers I drew, colored, and cut out to brighten up his hospice room before his passing. My younger cousin Alyssa helped me tape them up.
EDIT. Upon rereading the post, I realized I mentioned the chaplain twice but forgot to highlight the other people who contributed immensely to the service:
-My mom: who sewed all the patterned blankets (with assistance from my cousin Kelly, who helped choose the fabrics) for the traditional blanket ceremony.
-My dad: who read Buddhist scripture, chanted, and prayed for my grandpa.
-My cousin Kelly: who helped choose the beautiful flower arrangements. (I think her mother helped too)
-My uncle Bill: who went through piles of my grandpa’s documents to find specific dates and important information that went into the main eulogy. And for taking time off work to stay with his grieving mother.
-My aunt Terry: for assisting my grandma during the difficult transition and taking time off as well. She, my uncle, and my mom were instrumental in handling the funeral preparations and complicated paperwork my grandma wouldn’t’ve been able to understand.
-My grandma: for being so loving, faithful, and concerned with my grandpa. She was with him 24/7 in the weeks before his passing and never once left his side.