I really miss my friend Mike “Grumpy” Graham. Parkdale is not, and will not be, the same without him. I still expect to see him sitting in one of the three bus shelters that he frequented, and which he lovingly referred to as Cottages 1, 2 and 3. I’m going to miss popping my head into one of these cottages and being greeted with “oh nooooo. Not YOU!” I’ll miss his gravelly voice, his twinkling eyes, and his witty one-liners.
We held a visitation, funeral and burial for Grumpy this Tuesday, which was an immense privilege. And it was a roller coaster of a day. At various points the events and participants could be described as somber, chaotic, sweet, hysterical, hilarious, sacred, violent, sentimental, silly and profound.
The visitation was pretty rowdy, as folks were experiencing a wide range of emotions, and finding a variety of ways to cope with and express those emotions.
The funeral was sweet and unexpectedly calm. We sang and read scripture, Erinn gave a beautiful eulogy, and then many stories were respectfully and poignantly shared by members of Grumpy’s wide network of friends.
And the burial felt especially sacred. I had the privilege of driving three of the Grumpster’s friends to Meadowvale cemetery, where they acted as his pallbearers. Erinn read some scripture and spoke words of committal, acknowledging that our friend’s body was about to return to its earthy origins. We all took a handful of dirt, scattered it on the casket, and said our goodbyes. There was something so beautiful about seeing the three pallbearers engage in this ritual with such tenderness and open sadness; the same guys who so often feel the need to keep up a tough exterior.
I’m so grateful for the chance to celebrate Grumpy’s life together with his friends. The day reflected Grumpy well – fairly unorthodox, rough around the edges, and very very beautiful.
See you, Grumpster. You are missed.