We are on our return trip from Bergit Stadem’s (Mama’s) Funeral. We are aware that there will be some of you who will receive this letter who perhaps do not know that our Dear Mother has gone “Home to Glory” at the ripe age of 98! Sept, 20th, while eating dinner at the Care Center in Mobridge, SD (where she had been a resident less than a month because she needed more care than her loved ones were able to minister to her), Mama experienced a sharp pain in her heart! She died Sept. 25th of heart failure.
The Lord spared Mama from a long siege of illness! A minimal amount of pain (for which we are thankful), as she came to her last days, was her experience.
Upon notification, all the families went into action, making every effort to re-arrange schedules in order to attend the last arranged Memorial Services for our Beloved One.
We had anticipated this call for years…yet when it came, how unprepared we were for it!
After several calls Be (Schaefer) flew to the Rangens in Portland Tuesday the 27th…We three drove to Pearl’s (Ginther) in Puyallup, Washington. After a visit with several of her children, reviewing our remembrances of Grandma, a good night’s rest, the four of us headed for Mobridge!
Myrtle, Bill (Svanoe) and Rennard came as did Alida, Hans (Spilde), Eloise, Bonnie, Joe and their two children, Gary and Shirley, Dan and his Friend, Leroy Stadem Family was100% represented(even if it meant that Tim had to fly all the way from Washington D.C. Ruth and Tom (Harrington) and Connie Bergstrom, Uncle Andrew Holbeck’s daughter.
Our carload drove in, minutes before six o’clock and we were all invited to a delicious dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church (where Leroy serves).
Following fellowship and picture-taking, the family gathered at the Memorial Chapel for a family Service. As we viewed Mama’s earthly body, we couldn’t help but be thankful that her struggles were over. From the oldest to the youngest Grandchild and Great-Grandchild, so many stirring thoughts passed through our minds and we shared too as we lingered…rehearsing the blessings of God from her life to ours. We found comfort in knowing that Mama loved God and she will live forever in Heaven. Surely her memory lives on earth in the hearts of all those who loved her! Mama had “fought the good fight…she had finished her course…she had kept the faith…there is laid up for her a crown of righteousness”!
We all gathered then at Leroy and Liz’s home for a precious time of more fellowship and sharing. This time was inspirational as testimonials were given concerning Mama and Grandma by most every one. Heart stirring remembrances…serious and humorous! It was in the morning hours when we each found our way to our designated places to rest…which were in homes of people of Trinity congregation…how gracious of them!
We were all invited back for Breakfast…to partake of all the goodies at Leroy and Liz’s home in the morning!
Just as we were readying ourselves to leave for the 10 o’clock Service at Church, Mama’s nephew, Axel Lundring from Pasadena stepped in and surprised us!
All the Loved ones gathered in a newly decorated Fellowship room in the basement, taking more pictures, as we reacquainted ourselves and waited to be ushered up to a well-filled Sanctuary.
To our joy, the Church choir sang, “The Lord My Shepherd Is.” The Grandchildren stirringly sang, “I Love To Tell The Story.” Favorite Hymns of Mama’s were sung by the Congregation: “Beautiful Savior,” “Behold A Host,” “My Heart Is Longing to Praise My Savior.”
We were comforted by the Word of God. Pastor Judith Johnson reviewed also some of the incidents from Mother Bergit’s life. She has indeed left many an imprint on lives, of her love for the Lord and the burden she had for the souls of those round about where she lived as well as those in distant places. We could insert here, that Cora and Carl (Taylor) were unable to attend the Funeral Services because of the far off distance of Brazil where they are laboring for the Lord.
Following this Service, everyone who attended were guests at another scrumptious early noon dinner served by some of the ladies of the Church. During this hour, one of the members of the Church favored us with the beautiful Hymn, “Den Store Vide Flok.”
By 11:45 a.m. we were on our way to Bryant…about a 200 mile trek, for the Service at the Cemetery. Again, many relatives and friends gathered at the Cemetery to pay their last respect. Mama’s wish had been that God would take her home and her earthly body be laid beside her beloved husband.
Pastor Joe reminded us that Grandma Stadem was now absent from the body and at Home with the Lord. Also reviewing of the experiences of Grandma while se was among us.
The last Family Gathering was in Bryant Lutheran Church, when we were served delicious refreshments by some of our Relatives and Friends who live in our home town. Our only living Aunty, Sarah Stadem, two of our cousins, Maxine and Shirley (together with their husbands) came and offered their condolences. Our own daughter Janelle, her husband Dave and our two youngest grandchildren came for the Funeral Services in Bryant and were within the Fellowship.
It was most refreshing to have relatives, (who some of us didn’t even know how they were related to us), stand to their feet, introduce themselves and explain the relationship. There were Stadems, Vorseths, Brekkes, Larsens, Hanger Girls, Fjelstads, and Ericksons.
As we have rehearsed the final Memorial Gatherings, we are reminded of one of the favorite choruses which was so dear to Mama and Papa.
“Just one day nearer home…the shadows of the night descend,
just one day less to roam…where evening twilight colors blend,
beneath the starry dome…I rest beside my Guide and Friend,
each day tramping, nightly camping…brings me one day nearer home!
Among the many Memorial Gifts given for the Lord’s Work, were flower arrangements given by the Grandchildren who were present; a Family Spray; Grandson Del Von and Ria Schaefer and boys; Granddaughter Gloria (Ginther) and Bruce Brown and family; Aunty Sarah Stadem & Families; Mohall Care Center and The Mobridge Funeral Chapel and Staff.
After all the “Goodbyes” each family went their separate ways. Leroy and Liz motored on to Florida to see Liz’s father who is in ill health. Axel went on to the Sioux Falls area. Myrtle and Bill with several nephews drove on to Mpls. Alida and Hans to Sioux Falls....Ruth and Tom on to Sherwood where Tom’s mother has recently taken up residency in the city. Pearl went on to Sioux Falls to attend a friend’s wedding. Be and the Rangens followed the Swensons to their home in Fergus Falls, Minn. After a very restful and joyous visit, we motored to Bismarck, ND to see Joe’s brother-in-law Charles Backstrom who is recovering from a car accident. We then left for Great Falls, Mt., to fellowship with Mim (Rangen) and Dave Patch in their newly acquired home! They are joyfully anticipating the arrival of a little One!
Thurs. Oct. 6th we arrived at Wayne and Judy Ginther and children’s home in Sunnyside, WA. Another needed night of rest and precious fellowship. We safely arrived in Portland Friday evening Oct. 7th thanking the Lord for His guidance and protection!
Now Oct. 11th, finds Joe flying back to Minn. For his Home Mission Board meetings. Be and Estelle will busy themselves getting this epistle sent off to relatives and friends, visiting the Craft and Fabric stores, attending the Ladies Bible Study in the morning, Prayer meeting in the evening, and getting in some sisterly fellowship in between!
Thursday evening, Be flies off for Atascadero arriving at 10 p.m. when Hubby Russ will be patiently waiting for her return!
What a blessing it has been through the Family that binds us and the tie in Christian love!—Estelle (Rangen) and Bernice (Schaefer)