On this Sunday morning I awoke to this song on my mind. Rachel had joined us during the night. First, we went to the Marion Mennonite Church. We were greeted by a woman whose parents and grandparents I knew. I sat beside a man whose father I knew and whose daughter is giving a recital at Goshen College on a date written on My Joy’s bulletin. Another father introduced his son as a graduate of Goshen College whose final project is organizing the papers of my father. The pastor’s sermon was part of a series on the hard sayings of Jesus. This one was based on the Gospel passage about eunuchs. The sermon was masterful, well researched and well delivered. Many connections were made as we mingled with the parishioners following the service.
From the church the immediate family went to Mrs. Gibbles Restaurant and Candies. They gave us much appreciated privacy. We were joined by respected family friend Mahlon Eshleman and his escort, cousin John Clark. We became better acquainted with each other and bonding continued through out the day. Kyle confirmed that he knew of appropriate rocks for the ashes and we agreed for him to lead us there.
From the noon lunch we went to the cemetery where we found an unexpectedly large number of people waiting for us. Ruth had gone to the cemetery early and placed a table with a picture, a salesman’s traveling case containing the ashes, and flowers. She also had pictures to show us. (A church trustee supplied us with chairs.)
Awaiting us was Helen who has always been the oldest of the Lehman cousins. She was born a few months before John. Cousins came from Harrisonburg, Va. and from Lancaster, Pa.
Nearby cousins from my mother’s side of the family came. Lehman Cousins who grew up in the big house on the hill above Blueberry Acres came. There were other cousins and close friends totaling twenty-eight according to Rachel’s memory.
Finally, we gathered for more formal sharing of memories. We sang “It is well with my Soul” and “Amazing Grace” from memory. Mahlon Eshleman led us in a brief meditation, a thankful prayer, and commitment of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” John’s older granddaughter quietly poured a cup of ashes near the grave stone of his parents.
We lingered long, conversing with the living who had gathered there and remembering those who had gone on before us. Evening seemed near as the immediate family left the cemetery for the rocks.