His death did not come as a surprise, really. He'd been battling cancer for awhile. But when the time came for him to leave, it happened quickly. I was newly pregnant with Brandon and Bryan was traveling with work a great deal at that time leaving me to deal with my pregnancy sickness and hormones, and taking care of my two little daughters often on my own. It was in this emotional state that I found myself attending my beloved grandfathers funeral....on my birthday, no less, and with Bryan on a business trip. It was a beautiful but tough day.
Towards the end of the day...after the funeral, the graveside service and the lunch...my grandmom wanted to go back to the cemetery to go through the flower arrangements that had been left there and gather some flowers for my sister Melissa to arrange into a dried arrangement for her to hang in her home. I was asked to go along and help. While we were there my grandmom mentioned to me that red carnations were Papa's favorite flower. Would I be willing to pick through the various arrangements and pull out all the red carnations? She wanted to give one to each grandchild in memory of their grandfather. I did as she asked and delivered the flowers to my fellow cousins with an explanation. I was happy for the task because not only did it give me something to focus on but also made me feel even closer to Papa.
It's been fourteen years since Papa died. Grandmom joined him four years later. As well as Grandma Adele and Grandpa Kofe, my grandparents on my mother's side. But every year on Memorial Day I gather red carnations in memory. In the beginning I took them to Papa's grave and left them there. But as the years have passed and my little family has grown and become ever more busy it isn't very often that we make it to the cemetery in Orem. Still, I search for red carnations and I arrange them in a vase and put them on my bedside table. The carnations, though originating with Papa, have come to represent all of my grandparents who have passed on....my own way of keeping them in mind and honoring them on Memorial Day.