Notes from Jan

Slept in Seattle

September 21, 2016

Flew West for Ruth Nelson’s memorial service, family friend, especially close to my parents.

Never easy to understand why some people suffer so at the end of life, especially good folks.

Memorial services help, allowing remembering, appreciating, poignantly resurrecting a life  through still and moving photographic images, music, words  and other symbols.

Eldred, Ruth’s husband for almost 66 years, and family insisted I stay with them.  Familiar place.  When Mama and I travelled together, we enjoyed Nelson’s Norwegian hospitality many times.

After the service, some returned to  Nelson’s home.  Now, Ruth’s daughters, Starla and Victoria, welcomed and served.  We spread throughout the house, spilled onto the porch,  sharing stories, telling Ole and Lena jokes, practicing Scandinavian humor.

Every now and then, you’d hear Jesus.  Some one talking about Jesus, who brought us together, even more than  hospitality.   The Nelsons preached and sang about Jesus.

That’s why we could still smile and laugh.  This was not a day marking the end of Ruth.  It was a reminder that because of Jesus, Ruth was alive, somewhere,  somehow and someday, we’d see her again. Even though my heart hurt for Eldred.  His loss,  fresh.  Mine, still so real.

The Nelsons, pastored and served in Assembly of God churches.  I, awkward about arm raising, hand clapping,  sensed God’s Joy as we sang at Ruth’s service, “When We All Get to Heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be!”   

When we sang, He Keeps Me Singing, words caught in my throat.

Tho’ sometimes He leads thro’ waters deep,  Trials fall across the way,      Tho’  sometimes the path seems rough and steep, See His footprints all the way.”

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know, Fills my every longing,  Keeps me singing as I go.”

Well, truth be told, I’m not always singing and I have longings that aren’t  so spiritual  but I fell asleep, picturing Ruth, my parents,  Jud and many others singing along, cheering us on from  heaven’s front porch.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…

Keeps me singing.

Helps me sleep, even in Seattle.

You, too?





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  • Reply Dale Lefever September 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks Jan. I know I want to attend the “traditional” service in heaven where they raise their hands, but lower their voices and put the guitars on mute. It would be culturally enriching to hear some Scandinavian humor – not sure I am familiar with many such jokes – are they archived?

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Cathy Ann Thiele September 21, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Me too, dear Jan. Me too.


  • Reply Nancy Sheys September 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    How very sweet. I’m sorry for your loss.

    Your writing reminded me of the family I married into. Norwegian and Swedish. All gone but a 98 year old aunt who still has the wit of the family. My husband’s grandfather used to say that he came over on a “whaling whessel” on his bike. He was such a character. At Christmas, he was the Santa to all of the children. As a young tike, my husband remembers saying “Santa has the same glasses as Papa.” Christmas celebration was lovely. We danced around the Christmas tree while the 3 sisters (one being my mother-in-law) sang Norwegian Christmas songs. There was always enough food to feed the little town of Merrimac, Mass. I have wonderful, warm memories. It was so different from my memories of Christmas as a child. I’m so grateful that my children were able to experience our Norwegian Christmas. I miss those wonderful people.

  • Reply Randall K Mathews September 21, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    You are amazing! Now, it’s Seattle. Will you ever slow down? I think that you should sign up for the next Boston Marathon. Looking forward to seeing you in church.

    Randy for the Mathews

  • Reply Helen Demsko September 21, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    So thankful for those songs in the night and for those who sang them here and now there!

  • Reply Gwen (Wendy Flagg) Connor September 22, 2016 at 2:34 am

    Thanks, Jan. A kind reminder that things are okay even when we don’t get it.

  • Reply wendy lane September 22, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Yes! Me too. What would I do without Jesus?!

  • Reply Helen Nyquist September 26, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Somehow I cannot get on your email list. I made a one letter
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