Last weekend, we loaded up the car and made a weekend trip to Nisswa, MN (near Brainerd). Our mission was bittersweet -- laying Papa's ashes to rest. You may recall that JP's grandpa passed away last January. The family waited until now to bring Papa to his final resting place on the family plot in Nisswa, the town they called home for so many years.
The day was beautiful, and the ceremony was extremely touching -- Papa would have loved it. As many of us as could be there showed up (I think we were only missing three people). We all took turns sharing thoughts and memories about Papa, simultaneously dabbing our eyes and smiling at the memory of the man he will always be in our hearts.
In addition to the box which held Papa's remains -- fittingly embellished with the image of a fisherman -- we also buried a tackle box which we filled with notes to Papa, pictures, and small items that reminded us of who Papa was.
A pumpkin, because Papa used to paint small pumpkins for the grandkids each fall. A small minnow bucket and a bobber, because he loved fishing. A piece of diamond willow, because Papa used to make fancy walking sticks and other art pieces out of the beautiful, knotty wood. A pack of Certs, because he never left home without them.
The great-grandchildren threw rocks and seashells into the hole, representing the intensely special family memories of their days spent together on Long Lake.
After singing a couple of Papa's favorite hymns and saying the Lord's Prayer, we placed Papa in the ground and said goodbye...for now. We'll see him again.
This is the family Papa gave to us, and the one I'm so proud to be a part of.
After the service, the whole family headed into downtown Nisswa for window shopping and ice cream cones. The fun was just getting started, because from there we all piled into the Comfort Suites in Baxter, MN, complete with a big, indoor water park. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or the adults! I didn't get any pictures there because JP thought the humidity in the water park might wreck my camera. :) You can just imagine the crowd in the picture above storming the hotel lobby for a pizza dinner; it was fun.
I'm continually blessed to have married in to such wonderful families on both JP's mom's and dad's sides. You hear so many stories about horrible in-laws and awkward family gatherings, but when we get together, it's like we've all come home, no matter where we are. Thank you, Papa, for the legacy you've left here for us, and for teaching us the importance of a family that loves each other. We miss you, but I know you were with us last weekend having the "best time ever."