Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My piles of paper continue to grow. So do the number of PDF files on my computer. I`m thinking it might be a good idea to get an external storage device just for my family history files.

A couple of days ago my mother handed me more paper. There were newspaper clippings and several poems that someone in the family had saved. The most interesting items were 2 handwritten packets, each 8 pages long. They were photocopies of the complete texts of the memorial services for both of my maternal grandparents. (My German language skills are getting tested and slowly improved).

These packets are very interesting to read (I have only scanned them at this point). After a brief overview of their lives, the minister pastor carries on into a Christian Faith oriented message which included the encouraging words that they are both now with God. (An interesting aside is that he used the same scripture verse for both messages - 2 years apart).

I am puzzled by some of the statements in these sermons. Based on my experience of my grandparents, there is an in-congruency between what I remember and what I am now reading.

I had the privilege of spending more time with my grandparents than any of my siblings. I lived with them for several months during the year I studied in Germany back in the early 1970s. My sister Heidi (my wife has the same name) and I spent 5 weeks with these grandparents in 1969 and my ex-wife and I spent 1 month with them in 1984 and another 8 days in 1988. (My grandmother died in 1993, my grandfather in 1995). In all that time I only recall them going to church once, and that was in 1969 when they took my sister and I to the Evangelical Lutheran Church near their home. My recollection and impression of that event is that it was mostly about us experiencing their Lutheran Church service than anything else. (My grandparents did accompany us to our Mennonite church every Sunday when they visited us here in Winnipeg in 1968).

My recollection of conversations with my grandparents about faith and religion is that both of them had nothing good to say about religion, about the church, and they occasionally questioned the need to believe in God. They were quick to point out the discrepancies in other peoples behaviours and their self proclaimed Christian faith.

Now I`m reading statements that don`t fit with my memories. The grandparents that I never saw go to church (other than when they visited us and that one time in 1969) were  memorialized in a church service. In my presence they mocked the church, faith and the need for God. Now they were said to have gone to be with God.

Did something change in the years between the last time I saw them and their deaths? I hope so. But I don't know. Are these proclamations based on a belief that their infant baptism and later Confirmation ensured their salvation? I hope not. But I don't know.

The in-congruency has me thinking about myself and my life. Will people sense a discrepancy in what is said at my funeral and how they experienced me. I still have the opportunity to make sure that they don't.

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