This past week my siblings and I interred our parents’ remains
Not intending to be disrespectful to the Bible, my Bible-like paternal family lineage for the past five generations goes like this: Joseph and Mary begot Ed. Ed married Carrie and they begot Joe. Joe married Mary and they begot Bob. Bob married Alice and they begot me and my three siblings.
This past week my siblings and I interred our parents’ remains with Joseph and Mary and Ed and Carrie. My father’s parents, Joe and Mary, chose to be buried elsewhere for reasons unknown except for rumors of a family rift.
While it matters little (if anything) where the spirit’s vessel — our body — is laid to rest, rifts established and sustained during life have a habit of sneaking into the nether world and into the living worlds of succeeding generations, too, if we allow. So my grandparents chose — for whatever reason — to be laid to rest away from their two proceeding Fetzer generations.
Which is fine if done for the right reasons. Death wishes are very personal and private and they should be. Yet, while there was a break in the chain with my grandparents’ burials miles away, the chain has been reconnected with my parents’ remains being interred with their grandparents and great-grandparents if for no other reason than family togetherness and genealogical study opportunities for future generations.
Notwithstanding the warmth — if we’re lucky — of family relations and family heritage, it was a miserable, wet, gray, cold, snowy-sleety kind of day in northern Ohio when we laid my parents Bob and Alice to rest last week, the weather cruelly mimicking our spirits. Nine months since dad died and three months since mom followed him to the Great Beyond, her heart broken after his death after nearly three quarters of a century of them being together, they finally found peace and their final and infinite rest together after a lifetime of jostling and busyness and stress and challenges.
But after a six-month separation (dad died in January, mom this past August), they are now together again in eternity. When we feel a breath of air fan our temples in the hot summer, we will imagine it will be Bob and Alice’s enduring spirits floating by.
We read the following poem at their internment by Major Malcolm Boyd, who was killed in action in France, June 1944, which I share because of its hopeful message of what lies beyond:
“If I should never see the moon again rising red gold across the harvest field or feel the stinging soft rain as the brown earth her treasures yield.
“If I should never taste the salt sea spray as the ship beats her course across the breeze or smell the dog-rose and new-mown hay, or moss or primroses beneath the tree.
“If I should never hear the thrushes wake long before the sunrise in the glimmering dawn or watch the huge Atlantic rollers break against the rugged cliffs in baffling scorn.
“If I have to say good bye to stream and wood, to wide ocean and the green clad hill, I know that he, who made this world so good has somewhere made a heaven better still.
“This bears witness with my last breath knowing the love of God, I fear no death.”
After the family ceremony to lay our parents to rest, we spent the following week clearing out our childhood home. For me at least, it was a bittersweet experience.
Sweet because we four siblings have not carried on the rumored family rift into our own living worlds. We enjoyed being around each other, a rare occasion to spend a week with one’s siblings without our spouses reminiscing about our childhoods together. We appreciate each other and our differences and accept them. And we worked together to honor the legacy of our mom and dad.
Bitter because we cleared the home in which we grew as a family in preparation to sell it, likely never to return.
Sweet because of the great memories we had growing up there, but bitter because we know our parents spent a life time scrimping and saving and building and creating a family and their home and all that’s left are their memories and legacies left with us, their four children, and their 10 grand- and five great-grandchildren.
Which, in the final analysis, is everything.
And so we left our family home and our parents to the ages, with fond memories of their love to sustain us and a certain knowledge that “he, who made this world so good has somewhere made a heaven better still.”
See you later Mom and Dad. Thanks for everything.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.