The funeral service was as good as one could be. Funerals aren't typically categorized as "good", but Granddad's was as close as one could get. The video tribute that Aunt Karla and Uncle Rob put together was incredible. The message was terrific as well, with excerpts from letters we all wrote Grandad before he passed. I was a bit apprehensive about singing in the choir loft with the rest of the family, as was one of Granddad's last requests. I'm not a gifted singer and I don't like facing crowds, but I figured Grandad had earned this final gift from his family. I've gotten misty eyed 3 times in my adult life. Once was at my wedding when Olivia came through the doors of the church to be my wife. The second was when I saw baby Nathan for the first time after he was born. The third was singing "I'll Fly Away" for my grandad. I was saying to myself, "Why are you crying, you never cry when you're sad." And right then it struck me. I wasn't holding back tears of sorrow. I was sad, but my tears were tears of pride. I was so overcome with how great this man was and how proud I was to be a part of his family that I got a little choked up. It was a bit puzzling at the time, but I'm sure that's what it was.
My biggest regret in all of this is that Grandad never got to meet Drew, our second boy due to arrive next week. I then realize that there will be dozens of great-grandkids that grandad won't meet on this earth. It just happens that Drew's the first. That pacifies me a little and makes me even more thankful for the relationship Grandad had with Nathan. For those that don't know, Nathan's middle name is Wyatt in honor of Grandad Dudley. Grandad was openly touched by this, but it was really our honor to be ones to use the name. Let's face it, one of us grandkids was going to name a kid after Grandad sooner or later. We were just the lucky ones to get to do it! I'm not sure the loss has completely sunk in yet. I imagine it will come in waves... the first time we go to Grandma's house and he's not there... going through harvest without him driving a tractor... Christmas without him... opening the pool next summer for the first time without him. We will miss him differently from season to season, but we will never forget his overwhelming love for his family. We love you Grandad, and we'll see you soon.