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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Burying my Father-in-Law

The main purpose of our trip to MN was to be present for the interment of Doug's dad's ashes in the cemetery in Dawson, MN where Paul grew up. This is a special place because 5 generations of Fondells are buried here. Doug's great great grandparents, his great grandparents, his grandparents, his father and his sister have all been laid to rest here.
Doug's great-great-great Grandfather, the original immigrant.
The stone is written in Swedish
Doug's great-great-grandmother
Doug's great-grandfather. Immigrated as a young boy.
Edward is also Doug's middle name
Doug's great-grandmother
Doug's grandparents
Doug's dear oldest sister
What the new stone will look like once completed
It's kind of rare in this day and age to have such hallowed ground where one family's presence is so significant.
I haven't spent much time in Dawson, but when I have been there, I feel the depth of connection that Doug's family shares with this special place. Fortunately, one of Doug's cousins bought his grandparents' house so family still finds a dwelling place on the farm even though the farmland itself has been sold to an active farmer. The granary has been recently painted. The house is much like it was as Doug was growing up. The church moved to a different place in town a few years ago, but I just loved the juxtaposition of the corn field next to the church bell. Classic country church. Dawson Covenant is a thriving church. A great example of how a small town church can really make an imprint on a community.
The burial was beautiful and unpretentious, just like Paul. In the moments of shared reflection the main themes about Paul focused on his gentle spirit, lack of guile, compassionate and generous heart, and desire to see others happy and contented. Paul was a good, good man. I was happy to be embraced by him as his daughter-in-law. I spoke of the vice like bear hugs that I always knew Paul would have for us. While his presence is missed, his failing health had created much hardship. We could all rejoice in a life well lived now without earthly pain.
Doug's remaining immediate family
Doug's mom is doing really well. She has adjusted well to being on her own and taken on new tasks with energy and interest. Of course, after 65 years of marital companionship, it's not always so easy to face each day alone, but her zest for life is inspiring. Her home is cleaner and more well organized than most and the garage is so clean now, you could have meals out there! She delights in this!
The service itself, led by Doug and his brother Greg, was a sweet reflection of a family whose life has been rooted in faith. Two hymns, some prayers and the burial rite rounded out the short service. We all had a chance to throw some dirt on the beautiful urn that my brother-in-law had created.
Surrounded by the stones of his beloved family, Paul's remains are now resting where he spent his childhood in a place he loved so much.
I'm really thankful that we were able to share in this special time. It reminds me of the history that all of our lives include and to see Doug's family history represented in such obvious ways through these gravestones is very moving.
Peace to the memory of Paul Fondell.
Siblings and spouses and mom
He was indeed a good, good man.