Tuesday I attended the funeral of my father's older brother, David "Dutch" Baumeister in Paxton, Nebraska. He died last week at home, surrounded by his wife, children, and brothers. His wife, Joanne, did everything in her power to make his passing easy and painless. I wish I had some photos of him to share.
My Dad is the extrovert of the three brothers who grew up on that northern prairie. He's always cut his own path, tilted windmills, and talked a blue streak. Uncle Dave was darn close to silent. He kept his thoughts close and didn't like being the center of attention. But he was the bass player in a band and restored classic cars. He and my father exchanged pictures and sculptures of birds; Dad likes ducks and Dave collected eagles. All over the house that he and Joanne shared were eagles, soaring over rivers, mountains, and trees. He was a quiet romantic.
David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a month ago. He carefully considered his funeral arrangements. His meticulously restored cars were to be in the procession from the church to the cemetary. The music he chose was singular; "Ghost Riders in the Sky", "Ring of Fire", "Kalijah", "Islands in the Stream". All his favorites.
The church was packed with family. There aren't many Baumeister's left but my grandmothers family, the Emme cousins, were all present. My youngest brother Aaron was a pallbearer. Its so strange to see him as an adult; father, husband, and man. I brought Katie along. She hadn't met that side of the family before. My father drove Dave's pickup and his son in law drove the chevy convertible down the main street of Paxton to the cemetary. The American Legion Honor Guard gave a 21 gun salute that startled us all.
The next few hours we spent in the basement of the Lutheran church. The Ladies auxiliary had prepared a midwestern spread of ham, scalloped potatoes and green jello salad with plenty of iced tea. No Lutheran luncheon is complete without green jello salad and iced tea.
A funeral is as good as a family reunion. Cousins and family freinds who hadn't seen each other in years were telling stories and catching up. Katie played with my nephew, EJ. Both of them were gorgeous and charming. My stepmother, Kay was gracious and definitely out of her element. It was just so much fun to watch.
So thanks, Dave, for bringing us all back together on a grey Tuesday. I think it was exactly the party you would have wanted.