Memorial Service and Family Time

rail road under gray and orange cloudy sky during sunset

The trip from Massachusetts to North Carolina went amazingly well. Chris and I weren’t sure how it would go. We knew we wanted to avoid traffic so we decided to drive through the night. Uncle John had always said that was the best time to travel, too, so I felt that approval right from the get-go. Gotta tell you — the views were not bad. We were in the hills of PA when the sun dipped down for the night.

The plan was to grab a hotel 90 minutes from the church, and we pulled in around 5:30 am. I knew it was a long shot, but asked if we could check in that early (offering to pay a bit extra, of course). The woman at the desk said she would make sure we had a spot and didn’t charge us a penny extra. She remembered being in similar situations and felt we should get rest. How kind!

The next morning we were well-rested as we headed into Ashville. It was a treat watching the fog lift up from the mountains.

I can’t help but think Uncle John was smiling down as he saw us relatives greeting each other. I haven’t been together with all my Long Island cousins at once in over 30 years, I think. The service itself was beautiful. There is a video of the memorial service on

In my youth I attended a Lutheran church, a Baptist school and Wesleyan college. Then I married into a Methodist preacher’s family. I’m kind of not any denomination. Just a Christian who attends online services for the sermons. So I’m not always surrounded by hymns anymore. Uncle John was big on old hymns. Standing there, encompassed by cousins and other relatives, the old words flowed over me as we slipped into four-part harmonies by instinct. Oh the poetry of the words. And the sounds. It all hits the heart in a unique way, and brought great peace.

During the service people stood up and shared stories of what Uncle John meant to them. I was too teary to attempt saying anything, but loved hearing the different ways his living affected others. Even the pastor got choked up at one point!

After the service we had cookies and coffee and talked with people. We got to meet many of the delightful neighbors Aunt Anne writes about. Then the relatives headed to the homestead for more food and conversation.

As I was growing up, I kept hearing about a family member (Rick) on Aunt Anne’s side of the family who was talented in doing magic tricks. She even wrote about his shows a few times. I have to admit I always wanted to see him in person.

A highlight of this gathering was getting to see one of the shows live. In fact, Chris and I were chosen to participate! Usually I hate being put on the spot like that, but the crowd was so friendly all I felt was a sense of being part of the fun.

He topped off the show by playing Edelweiss on a saw. Wow!

My cousin later shared that he enjoyed doing the show but missed hearing Uncle John’s deep laughter. Lise was quick to point out that it started thundering as he was wrapping up. She thinks it was Uncle John laughing from the heavens, and I don’t disagree 🙂

Chris and I planned to start the all-night drive back to MA around 5pm, but we were having too much fun so ended up leaving much later. The time with family was priceless. We even got to see some fireworks from the porch. The memories of that weekend and of Uncle John will be with us forever.

21 responses to “Memorial Service and Family Time”

  1. It sounds like a good and fitting tribute. I’m sorry for your loss but glad the trip and memories were happy.

  2. This was such a beautiful story. The train photo at the beginning was beautiful, and the memorial about John’s life was touching as was his smile in the photo. I confess to getting choked up, and I only know any of you through Anne’s stories. How blessed a reminder of the importance of what we choose to leave behind.

    • Thanks. I found that image in the Pexels free photos and felt it was perfect. Memories of Uncle John’s way of reaching out to others through his passion for research constantly remind me that we can bring joy to others in unique ways. What a role model!

  3. Thank you for this – and for being you! The time together was certainly priceless 😘

  4. This was a wonderful account of John’s memorial service and his life. Thank you for posting the memorial handout so we could read about John’s life, words and accomplishments as well. I have long told Anne that for me, a person with no family members, I am envious for those good times spent with her immediate family, but now I can say the same as to her extended family as well. Your love for John shines brightly in this post.

  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed learning more about him. Our family is a gift I don’t take for granted. I hope you find that love with chosen friend/family people.

  6. It was the perfect memorial service. Fortunately it was live streamed so Pete and I got to see it too. Wish we could have been with the family afterwards.

    • You were with the family, but you just didn’t know it. I was thinking of you and wishing you were there, but I knew you were in heart.

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