When my husband died he was playing in the lake with children, grandchildren and neighbors. Playing with him was a thirteen and seventeen year old granddaughters. It was sudden. It was a shock. One moment they were playing and the next they turned around and he was not there.
Poppy was greatly loved by his grandchildren. He knew how to play with them. He had great wisdom he shared with them and on their level. He never got angry with them. He was always there for them. He was a great granddad.
So we were concerned about our thirteen grandchildren. Especially the ones that were still at home and involved so much with him. We were given the gift of using a Victims Advocate to come and talk with all of the grandchildren. She did it in small groups. One of the suggestions that she made to them was to have their own memorial service.
The adults were planning a memorial service but it was geared more for adults. So we set about doing a informal memorial service geared for the children. It was held on Saturday evening the day before the adult service. We gathered at the lake edge with lawn chairs. There were lots of our friends that had traveled from long distances and neighbors who had walked down from their houses. It was a large crowd and we had a period of being social and enjoying each others company. There were lots of children and it was a time for them to run and tease and have fun. It was not solemn nor sad.
When everyone was comfortable, I welcomed them. It was for the kids so I did not talk much except to say this was their celebration of Poppy’s life. Then each girl, grandchildren and any other girl that knew Poppy was given a long stem rose. They took turns telling about Poppy. Stories and fun things that they remembered. One sweet, sweet child said, ” I did not know his name. I just always called him my BFF”. At the end of the stories all of the girls went to the edge of the lake and threw their roses into the lake.
Then it was the boy’s turn. My adult sons had gone to the fireworks store and bought beautiful fireworks. We all sat there as the sun was setting on this lovely lake that had been a party to my husband’s death and watched as the boy’s of all ages set off bright colored fireworks over the lake.
As we sat there and watched, it was like being in a cathedral. The beauty of the lake, the glorious sunset, the colors of the fireworks and the gathering of family and friends. It was as lovely a tribute to Poppy as could ever been imagined. It was the start of the healing. It gave us a point to move from the shock to the love of remembering. It was designed to be the children’s memorial but it was as meaningful as the adult memorial the next day. A tribute to the man we all loved and respected. We called him “Poppy”.