My absolute favorite moments of my childhood were spent in their basement surrounded by everyone in the family on Christmas Eve night, eating ham, mac and cheese, and all the other tasty things Grandma could whip up. We would all then pile into the same pew at the local Lutheran church soaking in the meaning and weight of the evening, and then head back to a night of laughter and games in their basement. It was a very sad year that it all stopped. Christmas lost a little bit of it's magic that year.
Growing up, it was always amazing to me the stories that Grandpa would tell about his work, the economy, drought years, and just general wisdom from a life well lived. As I sat in the funeral home parlor surrounded by that very same family that squeezed into the basement - it was so striking watching all the people that were there because of them. How well we have all turned out because of their faith and diligence and love.
I will always remember him and what his life meant to me and our family. Thankful to know he is in a better place and is no longer in pain.
I love you, Grandpa... and I know I never said it enough.