Yesterday was my grandma Klassen’s funeral at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, where she had been a member for decades.

My uncle, a pastor, gave the meditation. He had been a missionary in Vietnam during the war, and he remained there after the United States withdrawal. During that time, things were very dangerous for him, and all means of communicating with the family back home were completely cut off. My grandparents had no way of knowing if he was OK.

He later heard of a conversation my grandma had with a neighbor one day during this time:

Neighbor: “You must be so worried about your son in Vietnam!”

Grandma: “Not really. I gave him back to the Lord the day he graduated high school.”

Neighbor: “If you’re not worried, then I’m REALLY worried!”

Grandma: “Why worry? Heaven is just as close to Vietnam as it is to Kansas.”

That exchange sums her up pretty well, I think. She was so deeply religious that it gave her a great sense of peace about life.

We heard so many stories about her this week. We heard how, when she was already in her upper 80s, she helped a farmer get his equipment out of the mud and ran some heavy farm machinery. She was in charge of my cousin’s schoolwork for a little while (she lived with them back then, and his parents were taking a trip). She apparently made sure he did every little assignment left for him in exacting detail, even the ones that his mother had said were “extra”, just in case he needed something else to do. Apparently when his parents got back, he said he loved his time with grandma, but begged them to never put her in charge of his schoolwork again!

I told the story of learning to play chess when I was a child. My grandpa was teaching me the game. I was having some trouble learning some of the rules, and was frustrated because he was also beating me (like usual). After a little while of me getting more and more frustrated, grandma said something to him in German and all of a sudden I started winning.

Yesterday evening was the community Good Friday church, with the combined choirs of our church and Alexanderwohl singing. That wasn’t the easiest thing to do after the funeral in the morning, but I’m glad I did. Tomorrow I’ll be singing again for Easter.

2 thoughts on “Goodbyes

  1. Thank you for these posts! I would like to say so much more but i can’t. So simply thank you & mein herzlichstes beileid.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing this series of posts. It’s been most worthwhile reading them. It seems like your grandmother was blessed with a wonderful, full life. I wish you all the best.


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