May 17, 1999
Memorial Service

Hello Everyone,

I want to say a few words here to say goodbye to my brother. I have a printed copy for those relatives who are hard of hearing.

This is real hard. This is real hard for me. I need to remember to keep breathing.

I would like to thank all of you who came today to give us your support, especially those of you who came from a distance.

And I'd like to express my gratitude for all of the nurses and doctors at Kaiser Hospital who cared for Leif in the past two weeks. Truly, they did all that could have been done.

I have some photographs to share, a few stories to tell and a reading.

This is a picture of Leif and Amanda at Halloween a few years ago. I will pass it back for all to see. I'll try to describe it for you and then you can see it as it comes back to you. Leif is sitting on the floor with Amanda in his lap. And in Amanda's lap is a pumpkin beautifully carved. Clearly here is a father who is very proud and glad to be a Dad and Amanda's smile is almost as big as that on the pumpkin.

This photo was taken in 1960 when Elin was 12 and Leif was 6. Happy brothers and sister in the summertime, on the edge of a lake, barefoot. Elin is holding a fish. I showed this to Dad and he said, "Elin was the only one to catch a fish that day."

This is a picture of Leif and I in the early 60's overlooking a deep valley facing away from the camera. We both have straw hats on that Dad bought for us at some tourist trap, I'm sure. When I showed it to some friends they asked where it was. I said, "I'm not sure. Somewhere between North Dakota and California in the mountains." As I was looking at this, I paused and thought, "Who took this picture?" Surely it was Dad who saw us sitting there and thought it would make for a great memory. And it has.

About 2 months ago, Dad had a relapse of pneumonia and the doctors prescribed bed rest and hot soup. Leif did something for him that I thought was very nice. He brought Dad some "homemade vegetable soup" that he had made. Just like Mom used to make when we were little. Good food and nourishment not just for the body but for the soul as well. I remember that Mom made it with potatoes, turnips and rutabagas and it was sometimes hard to tell which was which.

I'd like to read a poem called On Death by Kahlil Gibran from the book, The Prophet. Gibran lived in the United States for the last 20 years of his life. He was a poet and a philosopher.

We would ask now of Death.
And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it
in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto
the day cannot unveil the mysteries of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river
and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies
your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your
heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the
gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the
shepherd when he stands before the king whose
hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked
in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God

[ This verse struck me today because the infection that Leif developed effected his lungs the most. For the last two weeks he was on a ventilator and struggled to breath and get enough oxygen. In the end his lungs failed and he breathed no more. -- so I repeat: ]

And what is it to cease breathing, but to
free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs
then you shall truly dance.