The Roy and Lois Stoltzfus family originated in Pennsylvania. They had two sons and a daughter, then they moved to Snow Hill, Maryland to help four other families plant a new Mennonite Church. In Maryland they had three more children: two sons and a daughter.
Eldon, the oldest Stoltzfus child is my son-in-law. As a hospice Chaplain he brings information, strength and comfort to persons on the way from life to death, and to the people bereaved by their passing. In the past weeks the process of dying came close to this family, for their youngest brother was dying. Eldon needed to deliberately lay aside the skills of his profession, and model for his siblings how to suffer loss and yet let go of the brother he loved.
Mervin, the youngest son of Roy and Lois is the focus of this blog. He was husband, father of three sons, successful salesman, friend of everyone he met, a deacon of the local Baptist Church. His susceptibility to cancer and his early death seemed out of order. He was, after all, the youngest of six siblings. Another should be the first to die.
When Roy, the clan father, died the family gathered for a reunion at Laurelville Church Center. The picture to the right was taken at that time. The picture seems to have been taken for this occasion. Lowell is at the top with his arms around Carol on the right, and Mary Beth on the left. Mervin is seated on the ground. Jay, left, Lois, their mother, center, and Eldon, right, have their hands on Mervin.
The four brothers grew up on the DelMarva Peninsula where they were surrounded by fishing opportunities. Mervin lived near the lakes in Northern New York State. He invited his three older brothers to enjoy a fishing trip with him.
They fished for a day after which Mervin kept an appointment with his doctor. He returned to tell his brothers that he had just been told that he had prostate cancer. The brothers fished a second day with the full knowledge that this might be the last fishing trip to be enjoyed by all four brothers.