Monday, December 22, 2008

"Stay Happy"

Today I attended a friends funeral. Not just any friend, you could say that this friend is....well, an uncle. Let me tell you a little bit about Harry. He was born in the Free State of Danzig. He was the oldest child to his parents. He had one sister and one brother. He received technical training in Germany and continued training after he entered the German Navy. He was wounded and then transferred to Berlin and then Landsberg Lech until American troops came. Germany was economically shattered after the war, so Harry volunteered for a job as a machinist. Harry then met and married Ursula in West Germany. They then had one daughter (Barb). Times were hard and they qualified for a relief program that brought them to the United States. They needed a sponsor and work lined up. That's where my other uncle Ben, comes into play and his church. Ben attended a meeting where they had pleaded for people to sponsor and help families immigrate and start a new life. Ben signed up and brought them to our family farm in Princeton, MN. They were given our extra home on the farm and a local mechanical shop hired Harry on. His life continues with another daughter being born (Kris) and Harry being hired on at a power plant and climbing the success ladder. My father, Alvin and his brother Ben continued on at the family farm. Family continued to grow and gather together, just like any family. Our family was extended when Harry and his family came over. The bond and connection didn't end when Harry found other work and was able to purchase a home of his own in town. We still gathered, reunions, Christmas and weddings. We were family. I remember growing up and especially at Christmas time, being told that we were going to go to Harry and Ursala's. I really thought they were family until I was told that we consider them cousins, Aunt and Uncle, but they aren't blood related. I guess I wouldn't have had to hear that. I really don't understand the difference. As an adopted child, I was taken in, just as the family from Germany was taken in. My family will always be my family. Just as Barb and Kris' family will always be family to me and my extended family. I will certainly miss Harry and Ursala. (Ursala passed on in 89') Ursala was a very happy bubbly person and she had an infectious personality! She loved Christmas time, just as I do.

I can't help but think of them as they traveled through a war torn landscape on a train to a new place. A new place they had never seen, but only heard about. They then traveled by boat (I believe) and saw Ellis Island as they first set their eyes on North America. How they must have felt relying and depending on people they had never met. I know I would wonder if these people are legit and wonder if we truly can trust them to provide, sponsor and help us get back on our feet. The family has told our family many times what a blessing we were for taking them in. What they don't understand is the blessing was them. It has been a blessing to have them in our family.

Harry's service today was beautiful. The family asked our family to walk in with them. What an honor to stand with them as they lay their father to rest. The musician began with "Silent Night". My all-time favorite Christmas song. The musician then began singing in German and my heart melted. What a beautiful song sung for a beautiful person!

Harry will be missed. Harry had a slogan or saying everywhere he went and it was..."Stay Happy"! Harry had much to be happy for. He had a great life here in the United States and I know Harry will "stay happy" in heaven.

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