"One more hug"
The reporter in me senses his preparation was not expertly done. His eyes and mouth are tightly shut and there's some kind of discoloration around the mouth that makes me think of the effects of rigor setting in.
I've been to lots of funerals, nearly all of them for work. But rarely for my relatives or people I know. The last family funeral I attended was the passing away of my dad's father in 1997. I wore the same tie -- a navy and khaki regimental tie -- for my grandfather's viewing as I did then. The only other time I've worn it was while covering the funeral of a Georgia man who was beheaded in Iraq.
My grandmother and all of my mom's brothers and sisters (three and two respectively) are there. My aunt's husband is a Buddhist priest and delivered the service for the viewing. He's a big, Dom DeLuise kind of guy. Has a fantastic sense of humor and also collects casino chips.
He explains that the ceremony is helping send my grandfather "to the light" or more explicitly with all of his ancestors who are waiting for him on the other side.
It is a sad moment but I do not cry. I am my father's son and we have a stiff upper lip for this kind of thing. Instead, I think of my grandfather, last year when Gnome came to visit the Kula farm, and all the years before, where he would laugh and say, "Danny. Drink beeah and talk story."
Actually this is how many people remember him. His kindly nature gave me enough piece of mind to not mind sacking out in his old room when my mom and her brothers and sisters didn't want to and we were pretty crunched for space. I just slept on the floor that night, feeling that his spirit is not a restless one and won't be prone to minding me curled up at the foot of the bed.
His passing made me realize that me and my folks, who live on the mainland, are like the 13th tribe in BSG. We are so distant from our little clan and every passing day separates us farther and farther away.
Because we lived so far, I didn't get to see him much -- my Honolulu cousins prolly saw him more in a year than I did in my entire lifetime -- but I'm grateful for his calm presence and cheerful disposition in life.
"Thanks grandpa, one more hug," I say, approaching him before we all shuffled out of the tiny room.