How do you sum up a person's life in a single blog posting?
After a short battle with a very aggressive liver cancer (only diagnosed in July) Tom's dad passed away - very peacefully - on Wednesday, September 19th, with both of his sons by his side.
As the priest said at Ernie's visitation (or was it the funeral?), "On gravestones, there is a 'born on' date, a dash, and then a 'died on' date. An awful lot happens in that dash." So it was with Ernie's 87 years of life.
The visitation and funeral were truly a bittersweet celebration and remembrance of his life. Community friends and family stood up and told stories about him at the visitation. The Honor Guard saluted Ernie at the funeral service, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung by all of the congregation as Ernie's ashes and the family left the church. At the end of the graveside military service, Tom and his brother got to lay their father's ashes in the ground to rest beside their mother, Jennie, who left her family in 2001.
Because Ernie was the oldest of six children (and, fortunately, the only sibling to pass away) the occasion was one for the family and long-lost cousins to reunite. Now that I've finally met some of the (Tom's) cousins I'd only previously known through the modern marvel of e-mail, I hope the promises of "let's get a family reunion together!" stick and that it really does happen! :)
The time also provided us with unexpected visits from dear, dear friends who are, basically, our chosen family. We love the fact that D, P, & S; M & T; and M & B (wonderfully representing all of the Gs during their time of loss, too, with the passing of Grandma Evelyn) made the long trek down to southwestern Minnesota. And, of course, that's not even to mention the sympathies, blessings, prayers, and support that came to us through e-mails, flowers at the visitation and funeral, and cards. Thank you.