The guy they put in that coffin was not my grandfather. He didn't even look like him - makeup visibly caked on his lips, chest flat and silent.
Henry Scharch, my grandfather, was one of the happiest guys I ever knew. In the handful of times I saw my grandparents every year, we never had a true sit-down heart-to-heart but he was always quick to ask me about my life and smile. He sang and cracked jokes and desperately adored his wife, Ruth, even if she cared a bit too much for him toward the end.
Bronnie Ware cared for the elderly in Australia for some time before she noticed some common regrets they admitted facing the big finale. They boiled down to regrets about working too hard, caring too little, and failing to find the courage to express their feelings and live the life they imagined.
I like to think my grandfather had none of those. I could be totally wrong. I might never know.
All I know for sure is I'm alive. There is no time for wasted time. And life is bullshit if you're not living your own.
My grandfather wasn't an artist or a writer. He didn't make a million dollars. But he did deliver the mail for some years and befriend a dog named Petey. He did play with his grandkids without ever rolling his eyes once at their endless antics. He did make me laugh almost every time I saw him. And even though it wasn't him snug in that box, shielded from the winter wind that cracked my family's faces, I cried when I placed a flower on top and walked away.