On Friday, we had my grandfather’s wake and memorial service in Chinatown. I loved hearing his war stories, and I always appreciated him as a World War II veteran stationed in Panama, but I never really understood the gravity and worth of his service to this country until fellow Chinese war veterans came and saluted him at his wake. I now know why it was important for him to tell me how he served in the U.S. Army and Air Force.
From 3pm to 6pm was the viewing, and at 6pm was a service held by Reverend Howard Li who baptized my grandparents in 2002 at the Chinese Evangelical Church in Chinatown. He titled his sermon “Blessed Old Man” and spoke about how my grandfather lived a long and prosperous life, and was even more blessed by committing his life to Christ. I didn’t know about this, but the Reverend took out and read a testimony that my grandfather gave to the congregation at his baptism thanking family and friends for leading him and my grandmother to Christ. I didn’t get a chance to ask, but the next morning before the funeral, I was able to ask Reverend Li for a copy of my grandfather’s testimony and he said he’d email me a scanned copy. If he comes through, I’ll post it.
Because my grandfather was very old at 93, I only thought family and close family friends would pay their last respects at the wake, but I was shocked to see so many people come and visit. I got to see many distant relatives, people from my old church in Chinatown, as well as twelve people from King’s Cross Church who have never even met my grandfather. Each time when a friend came, I kept saying to myself “wow” and “whoa” because I was amazed at how sacrificial they were to trek down to Chinatown to say hello. Each person I saw really brought a smile to my face as it was heart-warming to experience such love and support from so many different people who each meant different things to me and my family. In times like these, sadly, one gets to see who their real friends are.
Reverend Howard Li quietly commented that he conducts a funeral service about once a month, and he said that my grandfather’s wake had what he considered a lot of people. I suppose my grandfather was telling the truth when he always told me he was a popular guy.
The next morning, the funeral home had a short viewing and Reverend Howard Li conducted a short service for those who could not attend the previous night. Then my family got to see my grandfather’s body for one last time before the casket was closed. We were then escorted via Chinese mafia style car service with flashing lights and a blockade of traffic through Chinatown and the BQE to Cypress Hills Cemetery in Queens for his burial.
It was there where I was surprised to see two U.S. Army soldiers (or veterans) stand guard, played the trumpet, saluted my grandfather, conduct the flag ceremony where they slowly folded the U.S. flag, and then presented it to my uncle who is a Vietnam war veteran. It was beautiful and touching.
Afterwards, Reverend Li said some last words and a prayer, the casket was lowered down into what seemed like an expensive golden tomb, flowers were placed on top, and then each of us were able to throw a flower in before the casket was buried.
I love my grandfather and over the weekend I was blessed to see how he affected the lives of others and how much they love him too. I am still unsure if he is with Jesus now or not, yet I am more convinced than before that I will see him in Heaven because of his testimony. Although I still mourn and wish that I could have spoken to him one last time, I am sincerely thankful to God for blessing me with such a wonderful grandfather who loved me and took care of me countless times, for I have numerous memories of him that I can still hold onto. And as one last act of love, I hope that through his death my grandfather can bring my family closer together to love and support each other.