A young woman speaks about her hero.
Whispers of quiet conversation floated through the Chapel as the presentation played on the large screen behind the pulpit. Chloe looked out into the crowd, a little bit awed by the number of people showing up to her grandfather's funeral. From her seat in a small chair to the right of the stage, she could see hundreds of them. Chloe had no idea he had known so many people. She had never liked speaking in front of large groups. Public speaking terrified her, but despite her fear of it and the heart-breaking sorrow she felt, she owed him this. He was a hero. He was her hero.
As the presentation ended, the pastor stepped onto the stage and cleared his throat. He said, the murmurs falling to silence, "The service is almost over. When we close, please be kind enough to let the family exit first. But for now, Dan's granddaughter Chloe has asked to speak." He turned to her and held out his hand to help her up on the stage.
Chloe walked up behind the pulpit and laid her hand-written speech upon it. Gripping its sides, she looked up at the crowd. There were many she knew. Her mother and father, of course, and her brother John with his wife, Ann. Surprisingly, she saw uncles and aunts and a few of her cousins.
Nonetheless, she had no idea who most of these people were. Her grandfather had obviously touched many lives. Instead of fear, it gave her comfort. Chloe cleared her throat and began to speak.
"Thank you all for coming," she said, a slight hitch in her voice. "I wanted to tell you about my grandfather, my Papa."
"He was loving and kind. He always had a kind word to say. I still remember how he would sweep me up into his arms, giving me a huge hug whenever we visited," Chloe said, a tear falling onto her cheek.
"He was funny, too. I remember him telling John, "I don't eat because I'm hungry; I eat to keep from getting that way." And then the next morning at breakfast, he grabbed a biscuit, looked at John, and said, "See this biscuit? I'm going to tear it in half and eat both halves!"
She saw John smiling sadly, tears in his eyes too. "He was fair but firm. Hardworking, he expected the same from everyone around him. He loved chores, at least assigning them to others, anyway." Chloe smiled at the sounds of chuckles coming from the crowd. "Even so, he was never bossy. He dearly loved his family and spent his life providing for them. He once said it was his first best destiny, that meeting my grandma June and starting a family had been the best thing to ever happen to him."
"Last, my Papa was brave, a protector. His family came first, and God help any man that tried to harm one of them..."
At this, Chloe's voice finally broke. She closed her eyes as a sob escaped her, tears streaming freely down her face. Her mother rose and started to go to her, but Chloe stopped her. "No, Momma," Chloe said. "I want to finish this."
As her mother sat back down, Chloe wiped her tears and looked again at the crowd.
"In the Bible, it says that Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. I would add family to that as well. On that horrible day, my Papa gave his life so that I should live. He fulfilled his ultimate destiny as a father and, as a man, made the ultimate sacrifice. I will spend the rest of my life trying to show him I deserve it."
At this, Chloe paused and looked up, saying, "Give him a kiss for me, Grandma. Hug him tight. He's back with you at last."
Picking up her papers, Chloe stepped off the stage and into her mother's arms.