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My grandfather
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Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2006-02-02, 02:39

I haven't been talking to very many people about this, but on second thought I think it's a good thing to mention.

On the Monday before last (January 23rd), my grandfather (George Isaacs) passed away. He had been sick for many months with prostate cancer, so it wasn't at all unexpected. My grief has not been especially deep, probably because of the circumstances. It seems as though he simply finished up what was an excellent life.

The funeral last Monday was probably about as good as it could have possibly been. My grandfather was a tremendous advocate of light rail transit and was instrumental in the adoption of LRT in the Twin Cities. He was also one of the most likable, sociable people I ever knew. 319 people showed up to the service—more than could fit in the chamber both sitting and standing. People had to stand outside in the hallway.

The service started with one of his favorite songs, Finlandia, on the organ. It then segued into—get this—"I've Been Working On The Railroad" on the piano. That was his one request for a song. Although it was held in my grandmother's Presbyterian church, the service was mostly non-religious as my grandfather was a non-orthodox Jew.

After the service, we actually had two 1954-vintage city buses to bring people to the light rail station. They had an entire train sectioned off for us, and we got to ride for free. The train brought us to Fort Snelling, where we got back on the buses and attended a military burial (he served in the Pacific in WWII). While we were there, we could hear the light rail trains in the background blowing their horns—a friend at Metro Transit had arranged for all trains passing by Fort Snelling for about an hour-long period to sound their whistles.

A reporter and photographer from the Minneapolis Star Tribune was there interviewing people. The STrib published this story on the subject:

http://www.startribune.com/465/story/215382.html

Anyway, I was just thinking about the funeral and how great I thought it was. I have not been to many funerals, but I feel so happy that my grandfather got such a good one. Other than the burial at Fort Snelling (which was very somber), the whole thing was upbeat and it wasn't sad at all. The last one I went to was when a friend of mine died from cystic fibrosis at a very young age, and that one was understandably a very unhappy event.
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AWR
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: State of Flux
 
2006-02-02, 04:47

Sorry for your loss, Luca. And focusing on the positive aspects of his life and farewell is great. We've all got to go someday; but when you've had an interesting and fulfilling life, you've done well.
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scratt
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: M-F: Thailand Weekends : F1 2010 - Various Tracks!
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2006-02-02, 05:16

ditto.

It's nice to look back on memories with our Grandparents. My Granddad was one of those who could make anything... Wood, metal etc. etc. He always had his own workshop, and was still making things up until the day he died...

I think most people would prefer that funerals are an opportunity for remembrance. I know that when I go I would prefer that people did that, rather than feel any great level of grief.

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
Extreme Sports Cafe | ESC's blog | scratt's blog | @thescratt
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-02-02, 08:01

Sounded like he was a great man; I noted that he was married for 56 years and 83 years. Very good life.

I'm sure you have a bit of him in you, so you have all the right to be proud.
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kretara
Cynical Old Bastard
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: The Hot, Hazey, Humid South
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2006-02-02, 08:09

I've been to many funerals and this one sounds great. Sounds like you celebrated his life and even better, you had many people celebrate his life with you. What better way to say goodbye to a loved one.
I'm sorry for your loss.
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Artap99
Totally awesome.
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Charlotte, NC
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2006-02-02, 17:43

As odd as this sounds...the funeral sounds almost enviable. My grandmother's funeral was a few weeks ago, and all I remember is my relatives fighting over her estate. She wasn't as much a person as she was material wealth.
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2006-02-02, 19:13

Thanks for sharing Luca.

Your grandfather sounds* like a great man. You can certainly be proud of him.

We all have to go some day, but some people can go with their heads held high

___

*) I don't think this is the right grammar. A little help please?
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2006-02-02, 20:46

Wow, that's a great story. My grandfather died May 18, 2003, and his funeral was a very small affair at a trailhead leading to his favorite lake trails. His ashes had been spread over that mountain range (The Enchantments in WA) a month before the service... out of the bomb bay of a B-17. He had been a B-17 pilot in WWII, and the crew of one of the last remaining ones flying volunteered to do the drop. (Grandpa had been told right before he died that this had been arranged, and he *howled* with laughter, thought it was perfect.)

It was weird... of the entire family, he was who I was closest to. And yet, during the service, I was struck by how little it was about him, but instead about consoling the living (ie, Grandma). I felt connected to him from the locale, and couldn't help but just smile throughout the service. A couple of family members commented that I didn't seem upset, and y'know, I wasn't. It was very strange.

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
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Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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FFL
Fishhead Family Reunited
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Slightly Off Center
 
2006-02-02, 21:19

Sorry to hear your grandfather passed away.

What a great story though - thanks for sharing!
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Chinney
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Ottawa, ON
 
2006-02-02, 22:34

Thanks for telling us about your grandfather Luca. It is good to hear about a life well lived and a fitting tribute at the end.
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Windswept
On Pacific time
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Moderator's Pub
 
2006-02-03, 12:45

Your grandfather sounded like a cool guy, Luca. You're lucky he was around for such a large part of your life, and that you had the time and opportunity to get to know him.

Because my dad was a geophysicist - involved first in oil exploration and later in earthquake seismology - we moved a *lot* while I was growing up, and became completely disconnected from relatives. I never really got to know any of my grandparents, or even aunts, uncles and cousins.

Not until this very moment have I given much thought to how that disconnectedness influenced the life of my immediate family, but I realize that it was considerable.

I think it sounded great how everyone laughed and sang along with the railroad song during the service. I imagine your grandfather was well aware that his request for that song would have such an effect. Cool.
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Luca
ಠ_ರೃ
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
 
2006-02-03, 13:23

Actually we didn't sing along with the railroad song. When the pianast started playing, everyone there kind of laughed as they realized what was being played. There was quite a bit of laughter the whole time. My mom, my uncle, and my aunt each delivered a short speech, but it's hard to call such speeches "eulogies" since they were so cheerful. My mother's speech especially got to everyone, as she mentioned a few of my grandfather's funny habits. The one that really got a reaction from the crowd was her story about how George would make "kamikaze phone calls" with absolutely no greeting or sendoff. As soon as she mentioned these, everyone laughed because everyone had talked to George on the phone at least once, and that's how he always did phone calls.

He was definitely a cool guy, and a great man. Apparently he was a very strict father, but he got really soft as he got older. Probably the saddest thing about his death is that my grandmother's marriage to him is over - they were the cutest, most loving couple I have ever seen. They met each other at a dance and got married just six months later. They danced often and were married for over fifty years. They even overcame a major religious gap, as my grandfather's family was not too happy about him marrying a non-Jewish girl.

One pretty cool thing he did was restore an old Minneapolis streetcar. It took eight years, but it went from this...



To this...



It was just a volunteer project he led. Pretty nice work! He also made a model version of the train, which he ran on his layout. Sadly, the layout had to be dismantled when they sold their house, but the models are still intact. They're all handmade and beautiful.
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Windswept
On Pacific time
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Moderator's Pub
 
2006-02-03, 13:30

Wow! That streetcar is gorgeous!

It looks especially nice against all the greenery, doesn't it?
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Foj
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Atlanta
 
2006-02-03, 14:32

now i have this wierd feeling to go to Minneapolis and ride the transit. great stories Luca
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-02-03, 14:41

Luca, that streetcar is righteous.

I've always appreciated people who embark on projects like this, and more so for sake of love.
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Wyatt
On twitter: @bwyatt
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Near Indianapolis
 
2006-02-03, 20:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept
Wow! That streetcar is gorgeous!
Carol! That's exactly what I said before I read your post... creepy...

Luca, I'm sorry to hear for your loss, but I'm glad to hear he led such an extraordinary life. It sounds like he was a great man, and I'm sure he passed some of that on to you.

Twitter: bwyatt | Minecraft: bwyatt_IN
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Chinney
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Ottawa, ON
 
2006-02-03, 22:27

Luca, was that streetcar restored to running order along the tracks or was it just for display?
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Grip
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Los Angeles
 
2006-02-03, 23:16

A celebration of a life well-lived. Something we should all strive to earn.
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