Opinion: A memorial service for my grandson

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Many of the people who knew my grandson were there. The young man took his own life in April, and we held a memorial service last weekend at my daughter’s home in Missouri.

Like most funerals there were some somber moments. A lot of memories, too. While he lived, Christopher had a penchant for doing things folks liked to remember. Like his very first deer hunt when he fired but a single shot and bagged a 14-point buck. His wife’s grandfather claimed it was the biggest deer ever killed on his farm.

“Beginner’s luck,” he said with a smile.

His father had been a fireman, and Chris always wanted to fill those boots. He became a volunteer at the city fire department as soon as he was legally old enough. More than once he came home smelling of smoke and grinning from ear to ear.

When he was a teenager, he had two male guinea pigs. He got a lesson in Mother Nature’s sense of humor when one of them had babies. He spent several days shaking his head in disbelief.

One of his friends recalled Chris sneaking out with him at night and getting away with it. His mother smiled and pretended not to have known.

When I would drive to Missouri for a visit I always stopped at McDonald’s for a sandwich and two apple pies. One of the pies always went to Chris. After the first few times, he would be standing at the door waiting with his hand out. I asked him once what would happen if I didn’t bring one for him. He looked at me as though that would be impossible. It probably was.

Chris struggled to get through school, and then amazed all of us by excelling at Army basic and secondary training. He was proud of being in the National Guard and happy being a father.

No one could ever say for certain what went wrong in Chris’s life. But it turned out to be more than he could bear. No one talked about that. It was just accepted. Mostly we shared fun memories. There were more than enough of those to go around.

At the end of the service someone asked if I would offer a prayer. I said a few words of thanks for being able to share Chris’s short life, and admitted how difficult it will be to live the rest of ours without him.


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