Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Wes Gunther, part 2

 My father's memorial service was yesterday. Being the end of the line of 11 siblings, making me one of the youngest of all the cousins, and the fact that many of my parents' friends had already passed away, we were not sure what attendance would be like. 

The service was held at the funeral home and I believe my father would have been very happy with it all.

He had left very specific instructions: No slide show. Limit service to 45 minutes to one hour. Do not print eulogy in program bulletin. 

He had requests for passages from both the Old Testament and New Testament, as well as the songs he wanted. He always liked being in control, and sometimes it really got on my nerves, but in this case I was glad he had made his wishes so clear. 

Our good friend, Dennis Fast, led the service. A former pastor himself, he had conducted a few services alongside my father so he had a good understanding of him. At the present time, he is the chaplain at the retirement home so he had also spent a good amount of time with my father in these latter difficult years. My father had requested he speak on the verse from Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mark read a passage from the Old Testament, Psalm 91. (My father had a left a little note in the instructions to say that his father read this to the children in the family each time before they left home for a long trip or went off to college). Aaron read from the New Testament, Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-19. 

My brother, Jeff, gave the eulogy, and did such a good job of sharing the caring side of my father, whose real strength was ministering to people especially when they were going through difficult situations. He also shared the more "human" side. My brother has always had pets, cats and dogs, but also lots of birds. When we lived in Seattle, he had several different kinds of birds in an aviary in the back yard, including a golden pheasant that made lots of noise, particularly in the early morning hours. My brother also had a polished rock collection. Sometimes when my father couldn't handle the squawking any more, he would come into my brother's room early in the morning (which was on the second story of our home), open the window and start throwing his rock collection at the bird in an attempt to get it to be quiet. It's always been one of my favorite stories. It was then my brother's task to retrieve all his rocks, knowing that my dad would undoubtedly throw them at the pheasant all over again another night.

Christa's brother, Aaron (yes sometimes it's confusing that her brother and her husband have the same name...), sang His Eye is On the Sparrow, an old familiar hymn, and as a group we sang a song that has been sung at every Gunther event in my memory, from weddings to family reunions and every family funeral, It is Well With My Soul

It was good to see several of my cousins and many of my parents' friends who were still around. Yes, he would have enjoyed this service and I'm happy that we could easily follow his instructions. 

Cousins: Laura, Mary, Mel, Colleen, Eugene, Cathy, Jim, Carol, Stacy
I met the daughter of one of my first cousins, Colleen. She is an avid quilter and I'm so happy that she was able to attend the service. We will definitely stay in touch. 
Colleen, Cathy, and me

Since we were not able to have a reception at the funeral home, the immediate family met later for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, another family tradition when it comes to celebrating any worthy event in our family, and sometimes just for fun. Mark and I have been going to OSF since before we were married (and have been ordering the same thing over and over for nearly 50 years). It was a good way to end the day and I'm sure both of my parents would have been happy knowing that we spent the time sharing stories and memories. 


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Karen Hoekman said... #

O, thank you, Cindy for sharing about the service in your blog! Sure would have loved to have been there! I loved the pictures! Good to see your family and the cousins! Love, Karen

Anne / Springleaf Studios said... #

Imagining your Dad throwing your brother's rocks at the bird brought a smile to my face. Sounds like a very lovely service and all that your Dad wanted. Rest in those wonderful memories.

Rochelle aka Bella Quilts said... #

Thank you for sharing the final part of your father's story. How wonderful to see so many of the cousins and to share a final remembrance of your father's life. It is a testament to his understanding of human nature that he left very specific plans for the service. I like the term "Celebration of Life" because truly he had a life worth celebrating.