A "celebration of life" day it was indeed. Today we spent half of the day at a funeral and the other half at a birthday party. Pretty weird actually.
Our 3rd sons middle name is Russell, which is named after our dear friend Russ Seils. Russ died this past Wednesday and his funeral was today. Russ was an extraordinary man. As a friend at his funeral put it today: "He was a quiet man, but yet one of great substance." So very true.
As a new comer at Monona Oaks Church 14 years ago it was Russ and his wife Beulah who were among the first couples to welcome us Baierls. They invited us to their home, invited us out to eat an a few occasions and we began to learn more about this extraordinary man. He had a sharp whit, a twinkle in his eye for his bride, and a smile that was boyish (AKA Naughty) even in his old age. He was a World War II veteran (Pacific) who fought behind enemy lines. He gave John a sword bayonet that hangs on our office wall to this day. As he put it: "I picked this up off a dead Jap on the battlefield". Russ is so representative of that generation of men who served their country, lived during desperate times, and remained filled with joy. Men who knew how to stand in the gap, work hard, choose right, lead and provide for their families, and serve his neighbor with whatever they had.
This is so lacking today. I think we could benefit from some hard times, learn from our failures and provide for ourselves thru some good old WORK like they did before the welfare system was around. But sadly as Russ' generation dies the population drifts farther into the "gimmie gimmie generation". Frankly, we need a spanking and detention work, but I digress.
As I sat in his funeral today,my mind flashed back to St. Mary's Hospital 2 years ago. While walking the halls of the maternity ward in an effort to encourage Nathan to be born, John asked me revisit Nathan's middle name. Naming our children is serious business to me. I did much research on names and their heritage and meanings before assigning them to my boys. All of my boys have Biblical names after Godly men. They are all Hebrew in origin. Their middle names are all after men who we held in high respect. So this was no simple flippant discussion. But when he suggested Nathan's middle name be Russell after Russ Seils, I agreed. I called my friend to check the meaning of Russell between contractions in the hallway. (In case Russell meant "willfully disobedient" or worse - remember the boyish smile I wrote about above) She called back saying it meant "little red one".
Once Nathan was born, we both smiled at the small wonder of him, because he was our littlest one (8 lbs even - yes that was our smallest!) and he was indeed red. HA! Nathan Russell Baierl indeed.
For his sake, I pray we do right by his namesake, and teach him the character he needs to represent the name Russell.
Russ' funeral was a great funeral for my boys to attend. He lived a full life, he loved the Lord, and everyone was happy about his recent promotion.
The second half of the day we got to spend with family enjoying Zach's 10th birthday. We changed out of our church suits (the boys looked so handsome) and into our tank tops and shorts and grabbed the gift bag of legos. Back to the world of growing up, not growing old and that too was yet another celebration of life.