July 9th was the big day, the day Grandma Stella had envisioned, planned and executed. It was a perfect summer morning in Redondo Beach, 76 and sunny with a nice ocean breeze. I watched with a smile on my face as my family slowly trickled out to the end of the pier, creating a rainbow of bright and beautiful colors. Everyone was given a white daisy, and gathered around as Uncle Tony read Grandma Stella’s eulogy aloud.

“Thank you all for being here today to celebrate my life, not mourn my passing. Everyone in attendance holds a special place in my heart, and I chose to plan my own funeral so that I could make sure you know how much I love you (and the control freak in me just had to say a few words at my own funeral) … I lived a long and happy life, full of adventure, travel, heartbreak, triumph, laughter and love. I married the love of my life, had 3 beautiful children who blessed us with 6 incredible grandchildren. I had a wild group of girlfriends who gave me years of tears from laughter and embarrassing memories to tell. I cherish every moment that we spent together, especially those times that we were all together singing around a campfire and filling my house with love during the holidays. Those are the memories that made life worth living and that I will keep with me forever. Now toss my favorite flower into the ocean below and go enjoy a mimosa in a room filled with love!”

After we all said a silent word to Grandma Stella, her children spread her ashes into the Pacific and we all dropped her favorite white daisies into the water. An overwhelming sense of peace came over me in that moment and I knew that this was just the way grandma wanted to be remembered. We knew this celebration of life was not over yet, after all, Grandma Stella was always the life of the party. We made our way over to the Chart House down the beach (a happy hour favorite for grandma), where we drank unlimited mimosas, reminisced about happy times, shared stories and belly laughed thinking of Grandma Stella. She planned a perfect party, and although she couldn’t be there in body, we all knew she was right there with us in spirit.