Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Here I Raise My Ebenezer...


We have returned from the desert and the burial of my grandfather. His funeral, simple. His burial, comical. The simplicity and the comedy both reflect his life, his humor, and his character.

...

On Friday, as my brother, sister, mother, father, and I walked past Grandpa Bang's coffin where it lay in repose on the bier in the Kaysville Cemetary, we each placed a stone of remembrance--an ebenezer--on his and Grandma June's headstone.

On Sunday, we returned and left a Mother's Day card for Grandma and a can of Pepsi and a box of Sweet's Chocolate-covered Orange Jelly sticks for Grandpa.

...

Grandpa's seven grandsons--Daniel Norton, Alan Norton, William Norton, Peter Rimmasch, Karl Rimmasch, Phillip Kincaid, and John Rimmasch served as his pallbearers.

His adopted sons--Eddie, Bobby, Johnny, and Joe Webb--were honorary pallbearers, as were his grandsons-in-law, DeVon Cook and Benjamin Grajeda.

Eddie, as a member of the VFW, presented the colors that draped my grandfather's coffin to the family.

All honorable, good men who carried and walked with an honorable, good man to his final resting place.

...

While we shed many tears, we also shared much laughter.

We mourned the loss of a man who was kind to all he met. A man who was known around the town of Green River as "Mr. Sunshine" for his friendly disposition. A man who was not your run-of-the-mill Mormon, but who also said he was willing and ready to be responsible and accountable "for whatever licks the Good Lord gives me." A man who lived his values not in words, but in deeds.

And we laughed at his clumsiness and naivete when it came to things like electricity: "Just stick a screwdriver in it and see if it's live.... SON OF A BITCH!! Yep, it's live."

We remembered a man who spoke in simple sayings like, "Life's tough, but it's better than a kick in the butt with a sharp boot."

A man who rarely showed emotion, except when he would say, "I love you, mugwamp."

A man who set the standard for behavior, always advising us to "be nice, like me."

...

The Disabled Veterans of America provided the graveside military honors for Grandpa. They could barely lift their M1 Carbines to fire off the 21-gun salute, but they were there to honor and salute their comrade-in-arms.

We didn't expect Arlington and we've all had some giggles at how "unpolished" their performance was, but deep down, we are reverent and respectful of the honor they paid our grandfather.

...

He was, to paraphrase the remarks of the bishop of my grandparents' ward in Green River, one of that great generation who saw poverty and deprivation in the world and who came home and did everything possible to make sure his children and his children's children would never know hunger, need, or fear.

...

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson, A Collection of Hymns Used by the Church of Christ..., 1758.

Photo copyright: Janet M. Kincaid, May 12, 2006.

3 comments:

janeannechovy said...

Isn't that a wondrous hymn? With a beautiful melody as well. We sang an arrangement of it in our performance last weekend (by Mack Wilberg; you can rest assured that no heart was left unstirred). A friend from the tenor section told me that in one of their sectional rehearsals an overly-authoritative chap told them an Ebenezer was a beer stein. Maybe he got confused at bier?

Anyway, sounds like it was a lovely trip. Funerals can be like that--too bad someone always has to die before you have one.

Holly said...

What a lovely tribute, Janet. I'm glad the funeral provided comfort and closure.

Mary Ellen said...

I'd like to thump whoever took "Come Thou Fount" out of the LDS hymnal. Gorgeous music and a fitting tribute to the father and grandfather of many loving mugwumps. I'm glad there were bursts of laughter as you remembered and honored his passing.