Funerals are largely sad events. It's not fun to get together as a family under the circumstances of having lost a loved one, but there are some things that I want to remember. They are probably only important or special to me so you are excused from reading the rest of this post if you so desire.
I want to remember that all of my cousins were there. It's been a long time since we were all together in the same room, there are so many of us. Grandpa had 15 surviving grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. It's difficult to get that many people together at any one time and the fact that we were all there for Grandpa says a lot about what he meant to us all.
I want to remember how the three photo albums drew us in time and again. They were on the tables at the funeral home and again after the funeral they were available during the meal. There were pictures of my Grandpa, his parents and siblings in their youth. Pictures of my dad and uncles all through their lives. My cousins and I chuckling over our own childhood school pictures and sharing with our nieces and nephews funny stories about their parents. I even learned some new things about my own parents. After the meal, we got together and took pictures of what I like to call The Wehrle Tribe. We are a huge over whelming bunch.
I want to remember introducing my own children to their great, great aunt Kitty. She is such a sweet woman and I wanted them to know her. I wanted my sons to see that I adore her and hoped that they would pick up on why.
I want to remember that my Grandpa had a strong and deep faith. He was well known at St Patrick's Church as he had been a lifelong member. I learned that he was present the night the church burned in 1935.
I want to remember the members of the Navy that came to the cemetery to honor my Grandpa as we laid him to rest. I didn't get a chance to thank them personally before they left, but I want them to know it meant a lot to me personally. Watching my father receiving the flag that was draped over my Grandpa's casket was touching and bitter sweet for me. Hearing the words of the officer that presented the flag to my dad truly made me cry.
I want to remember my youngest brother Matt's admiration for Grandpa. I think out of all of the grand kids, my brother admired him most and Grandpa lived a life worth admiring and emulating. It broke my heart to see him grieving so deeply. I hope he comes to understand that Grandpa lives on in his love.
I want to remember discovering the stained glass window in St Patrick's church that had the words in the bottom "In Memory Of The Wehrle Family" I never knew that window existed. It is a beautiful picture of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair. Words can not express how seeing that filled me with such a sense of belonging, of who I am and where I come from. It galvanized in me more than anything else that our family has an established history. That we exist in the world outside of the connection of geneology.
Finally, I want to remember my Grandpa's love for my grandmother who passed over 20 years ago. The reminders of how crazy they were about eachother was evident everywhere you looked. The pictures of them together, her smiling at him, so many reminders of that great love. It's so rare anymore, but between the two of them it was evident. We all knew it. My cousins, aunts and uncles all spoke of how those two loved and adored eachother. After the service at the cemetery, I left with my sons and daughters in law. We had headed north and got caught in traffic and realized it would be better to turn around and go south. Going south meant passing by the cemetery again and I could see from the road that they were placing my Grandpa's casket into the above ground vault beside my grandmother. My first thought was they are finally beside each other again. I am a romantic at heart and it was this that made me cry in ernest. In my mind, I imagine their happy reunion. Goodbye Grandpa, may you and Grandma rest in peace together.
Lawrence F. Wehrle
August 6, 1912 - June 26, 2008