My Grampa, my last remaining grandparent, died last Friday. He had been sick over the past week, and on Friday morning I got a call from Mom saying that they had taken him to the emergency room and found out that he had leukaemia. At about 2:30pm she called me at work to inform me that “Grampa has gone to heaven.” He was 90.

There is going to be a memorial service on Tuesday, at the church that Grampa attended–the one that I attended as a small child. This can be a tricky issue for an atheist in a mostly Christian family, but thankfully there is some degree of religious diversity in the family as well. That translates in most cases into a atmosphere of tolerance for different views, and a low likelihood that this memorial will turn into an appeal for the ‘unsaved’ to turn to God to avoid going to hell when they face death themselves. I’ve heard of such things from other people, but that is not my situation.

I cringe a bit inside when I hear someone say things like ‘Grandpa is with Grandma in heaven now’ or some such thing. Fine if that makes them feel better, and I’m definitely not going to pick fights with anyone over that sort of thing.

This will be a bit different from a usual funeral service. Grandma and Grampa both agreed — back in the 60’s I think I heard someone say — to donate their bodies to ‘medical science’ when they died. I personally think this is a great idea, since I think having one’s body pumped full of chemicals and buried in the ground in an expensive box is a bit wasteful. Please don’t take offence if you disagree.

So, there will be no body at the service and no burial. If it’s anything like Grandma’s memorial service, it will mainly be family members sharing memories about Grampa.