My dad died last December. We did little to mark his passing then other than inter the ashes, opting instead for a gathering this spring. As weird as some family events can be, this one was nothing but wonderful.
Over 40 of us (including some cousin/spouse pairs we had not seen for over 25 years) congregated at Graceland Cemetery, first by my dad's parents' graves before shifting over to where my mom and dad are buried. Dad was not a religious man, so no prayers were said, no minister presided. Instead, we stood around and shared stories and memories. This loose format worked well because enough time had elapsed since his death we were not mired in grief, although a few tears were shed just the same. Even my younger brother, who intended to remain silent, spoke up.
Then we repaired to my niece's home a few miles away, for the usual post-funereal repast and family reunion. The youngest cousins played, the oldest cousins swapped tales about growing up in Chicago, the family tree was examined (one line traces back to the Mayflower even though we are basically northern European mutts). It truly was a fitting send off for my Dad.
The only sad part occurred when I arrived home and had the urge to call Dad on the phone and tell him all about it. He would have loved it, would have loved being there. He definitely was present in spirit.