Preparing for a Funeral; He Already Read the Eulogy

Death has been sneaking up on me lately, I’ve been getting more glimpses of people threatened by it, or facing the loss of family who have succumbed.  It’s sobering to think of such mortality right next to me.  At the same time, I derive so much joy from the tiny young lives who are intertwined with mine. Sofie and Nathan plot their journeys as my Uncle Bob and Aunt Sally, along with our beloved cousin Chris, take their places among the departed.

This weekend I’ll travel north to Conway New Hampshire where the life of my uncle, Robert Hartshorne, will be memorialized.  Two years ago I spent a few days in an apartment in Tours, France, discovering the joys of living like a local…shopping in the markets, riding my bike around the city, and cooking in an apartment as if I lived right there.

I had time during the long hours by myself in France to compose a letter to Uncle Bob  in which I recalled many sweet moments of my life where he had been there. When we were growing up, a visit to Bob and Sally’s place in the woods of New Hampshire, known as Waterbrooks, was a magical addition to a fun-filled summer. We went out in canoes, walked paths filled with roots down to the beach at Conway Lake, and all the while Bob was the father figure of the house, he always welcomed me, and generously shared his house and hospitality with me and my family.

Two years ago, Bob Hartshorne was sick, he was ailing and didn’t spend much time out of bed. But I knew then that it would be good thing to share the letter with him, to let him know that over the decades I had wonderful memories of him as a strong man, as a working attorney, as an uncle.

I was pleased when I sent him the letter and he wrote back a postcard thanking me for sharing those memories. I will read some of the letter at the service and it’s comforting to know that he read it too.