Carl Gerbrandt's Journal
Carl's Ashes on the Sea of Cortez...shared by Marilyn, Lynee, and Greg
Written Jun 4, 2013 10:13am by Marilyn GerbrandtDear friends,Lynée's family and I left for Mexico on Sunday, May 12. We flew into San Jose del Cabo and drove a rental van to La Paz, which is a city situated on the Sea of Cortez about two hours north of the Los Cabos area.The next day we met with several of our dear friends from our English-language church and planned Carl's celebration service and reception. Greg flew in from Ecuador the next day. We were once again together as a family, remembering our experiences with Carl and talking about our many years of traveling in this beautiful area of Baja. These were Carl's last wishes: he wanted a short service in La Paz, our "second home" the past three years, and his ashes scattered in the Sea of Cortez.Two days later, on Wednesday May 15th at 6:00pm, about 50 of us met at our church, Crossroads Christian Fellowship, to celebrate Carl's life. The service was simple, uplifting, and intimate. Several hymns and speakers were interspersed throughout the program, including a short meditation and a slideshow. These dear friends, who took part in the service, have become our second family and community of faith.After the service, we enjoyed a reception which took place in the Palapa next to the church. This venue includes a large open kitchen and dining area (which, in addition to the church, sits on the same property as the B & B that goes by the name of Casa Buena). We spent another couple of hours in this informal atmosphere along with our friends, while the cats and dogs wandered in and out! We enjoyed much laughter, many hugs, good food, tears, stories, and precious memories and comments regarding our family's positive impact on the La Paz community. Carl had volunteered his musical talents at the La Paz music school as well as at the church.The next morning, May 16, our family and about 20 of our friends met at the Marina, boarded a 60ft. catamaran, and sailed out into the Bay of La Paz. The Sea was quiet and the weather cooperated as we embarked on the final "hurrah" for my beloved. I have no doubt that Carl was listening and watching as the captain halted the boat and we began our little service. Our friends read Scripture and told amazing stories about their interactions with Carl and the family. Here in La Paz, they knew him as a relaxed man who reveled in the culture, and who enjoyed making his house a home for his family and others who would come to visit and stay for a cup of his delicious coffee or sangria. Our short "sea ceremony" continued with our family singing a capella; our friends joined us in the Doxology and Blessed Be the Tie that Binds. The music was soothing to our souls, while we sat out on the large ship deck together, feeling the presence of the Lord surrounding us, the family.The finale was the family opening the bag of ashes and scattering the precious dust into the Sea through our hands and fingers. The guests were given pink bugambilia flower petals to scatter. These moments were sacred and emotionally moving as we all thought about Carl and how deeply we all loved and missed him. We as a family stood by the railing and watched the ashes settle into the Sea, glistening like silver threads, and then shortly thereafter the boat began to move through the water again. The flower petals stayed on top of the water and resembled a flower garden. --Thank you, Lord, for these awesome visual glimpses of nature that turn quickly into colorful memories...The boat trip back to the marina went by quickly, as we all enjoyed our lunches and continued our conversations. Our guests commented on how honored they felt to witness this event and how delighted they were to be included in the ceremony.--Dearest Carl, your earthly wishes are now fulfilled, and you are in the presence of God. I ask that you meet each one of us, your family, at those pearly gates when we pass through.-Marilyn___________________FROM Lynée:We spent three beautiful weeks together as a family in La Paz and Los Cabos, and truly relaxed once Dad's ashes were laid to rest in the Sea of Cortez the first week. We were able to have dinner with friends, walk the Malecon (boardwalk in La Paz), enjoy the spectacular sunsets, snorkel, swim, jet-ski, enjoy the beautiful beaches, eat more than enough at various favorite taco joints, and many other fun adventures, of which there is no shortage in Mexico!I want to publicly thank dear friends in La Paz for all they did to prepare for and carry out both church and boat services: Milton & SuSu, David & Joyce, Curt & Sylvia, Peter & Cher, Loyda & Gustavo, and Loek & Ans. Both services included many cultures of people! We are so grateful to the many who attended both services, who care so deeply for our family. Thank you! We already miss you and look forward to the day when we can join you once again and exchange hugs and cheek kisses!DVD's of the February 9 Greeley Celebration service are still available for purchase if you are interested. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 720-341-7763. I just posted a few pictures here on CaringBridge of the La Paz boat ceremony in the PHOTOS section. There are also many more pictures to view on both Greg's and my Facebooks if you are interested.Thank you for continuing on this journey with us (you must be if you're reading this)! We are blessed by your love and support of our family. Many blessings.-Lynée________________FROM Greg:As always, our family flew into the Los Cabos airport. We've been doing so nearly every year, sometimes twice a year, since 1985. If you do the math, that's 28 years. Sometimes I find myself flying in from NY or some other destination, but we have always, all of us, flown into the same Los Cabos airport. All of us. 28 years. However, this time was different. It was the FIRST time my Dad wasn't with us.I'm still coming to grips with the fact that Dad won't be coming with us anymore to Los Cabos, La Paz, or anywhere else for that matter. It sucks. Our family doesn't KNOW Baja without him. May 2013 was our first taste of vacation since Dad passed away on January 23 of this year. It was very different, and each of us missed him immensely in our own personal ways, some of which are so personal that we have yet to, or may never, speak about or share. My point is, we ventured (and have been doing so for the past 4 months) into the unknown, and will continue to move forward through our 'year of firsts' without the presence, comfort, security, and love of a superhero: my Dad. My Sister and I have never known life without our Dad, and Mom has known him all but the first 12 years of her life. What I'm saying is we don't know life without Dad, and we're still looking to take one step at a time, with the hope that we're able to do so. And this trip to Baja, a place we know inside and out, was in a sense another 'first' for us as we continue to figure out where we're going from here.Now that you've read to this point in the journal entry you're aware of the little celebration/memorial service we had at our little church in La Paz. Mom and Dad discovered the church and its incredible people a few years back, and there they continued to add to the beautiful Baja community of folks they started building back in '85. And you're also aware of the boat trip, on which we took our family and friends out into the warm Sea. And that while we were out on the water, we held another little service, and then each of us family members filtered Dad's ashes through our hands and fingers into those warm, glistening waters that our family knows so well. What you aren't aware of, and what I want to share with you, is how truly fitting a finale this trip was to Dad's life. It was in Mexico, of all places, where Dad could finally shed the burdens of work, life, and responsibility to relax, frolic, and truly be himself with his family....the same self, boy, and man, that Mom fell in love with when in her teenage years. For Lynée and me, we'd watch as the Mexican sun would melt Dad down to.....well, just that: Dad. And it was Mexico where Dad wanted his ashes returned, to be filtered through his family's hands, and left to wherever the warm, glistening currents would take them.As always, our family flew out of the Los Cabos airport. We've done so for 28 years. All of us. And this was the FIRST time my Dad wasn't with us. Again, I'm still coming to grips with the fact that Dad won't be coming with us on any more trips to Baja, but I have a little more incentive to return to the place we first visited in 1985.We share each of our stories with you all because we love you, and because Dad loved you. It is way above and well beyond our capacities to thank you enough for your continued offerings of love and support. These 10 months since Dad was first diagnosed have been trying, to say the very least, but we have survived and with the Lord's guidance, are ever moving forward....not having completely (nor desiring to have totally) closed the previous chapter. Dad's legacy shall live on.-Greg
DVD of Dad's Celebration Service, Award, and such...
Written Mar 29, 2013 10:55am by Lynee Gerbrandt GravesHappy Easter weekend! This is the first of many holidays and special events this year that we are celebrating without Dad. Our tradition has always been for the adults to hide Easter eggs for the kids, and of course we will continue that on Sunday! But more than that, we celebrate a risen Savior!
Dad is posthumously receiving the "Century of Scholars Faculty Emeritus Award" from the University of Northern Colorado on April 5. The UNC graduate school is turning 100 years old this year, and Dad was nominated for THE graduate professor of the century. This is an incredible award, and we are so looking forward to accepting this on Dad's behalf.
I’m not sure if anyone is still reading this blog, but there are a few loose ends to tie up, and this is the best way to disseminate information.
Just over two months have passed since Dad’s passing into Glory. The grief continues to come in waves. Mom is having to learn to do many of the “projects” Dad always handled, like taxes, bills, yard work, snow-shoveling, etc, etc, etc. We are walking alongside her in this journey. I’m proud of her great attitude and motivation. She is putting one foot in front of the other, although the sting of realization that he’s never walking through the door again is really setting in. This is a difficult journey, but not one without hope. She is grateful for the many phone calls, emails, cards, and notes from family and friends that continue to brighten her days; they also help promote better sleeping during those long night hours!
A friend sent Mom the "Jesus Calling" devotional book, written by Sarah Young; it speaks so personally to her situation. She has found many other people in the past few months who are also reading the book and feel the same way; in fact, Mom takes it in the car with her when she drives into Greeley, and she reads it again and again as she checks off stops on her list of things to do while in town, oh, and she reads it to me over the phone! So many blessings have come from this book! Dad’s final wishes were to have a Celebration Service with dear friends in La Paz, Mexico, and to scatter his ashes on the Sea of Cortez from a boat. So, we are working on plans to do this in May. The service will be much more simple than the Greeley one, but with the same theme of music and praise to God. We are looking forward to celebrating Dad's life once again with dear friends in La Paz.
Many of you have asked about a DVD of the Celebration Service in Greeley on 2/9. We have reviewed it, and Mom has agreed to have it available for purchase at $12 each. The DVD is absolutely beautiful, and includes the entire service, the PowerPoint slideshow of 450 picture slides of Dad’s life, and reception photos and footage, with a label and plastic clamshell case. I have volunteered to take this on, so if you are interested in a copy, email me ASAP at Lynee_Graves@msn.com or call 720-341-7763. I will be handling all the details of payment and shipping. Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone who may be interested, as I'm not sure how many people still receive these CaringBridge notifications.
Many blessings to you and yours, especially during this Easter season.
Some Lingering Thoughts
Written Feb 25, 2013 11:10am by Marilyn GerbrandtAs I look back over the last two and a half months, so many precious memories are lodged into my mind and in my heart.
I am so thankful for the three weeks we had as a family, spending time in Mexico; these were a gift from God. Many of you have asked questions about our time spent in La Paz. Carl had the energy and stamina to be at the center of many activities/experiences we shared together as a family. These included: Christmas Eve service at the La Paz Marina, Christmas Day lunch with friends, Sunday services in our English-speaking church, walks on the malecón (boardwalk) along the Sea of Cortez, invitations to the homes of many friends, watching the fireworks all around La Paz on New Year’s Eve, Carl being a playful tour guide at the piano museum, going out to the horse ranch where Peter and Cher work with the children in the barrios, Carl playing Santa Claus on Christmas Day, filling and bursting a piñata, lighting the Jesus candle on our traditional Christmas cake, reading the Christmas story, and lighting the four candles of the yule log in our backyard. Carl loved these traditions that we had established over the years. Accepting an invitation from Loyda (his voice student) to her home for a seafood feast and enjoying another yearly visit to our friend Lorenzo’s outdoor Italian restaurant were special treats, and have given us memories we won’t soon forget. And pacing the beach, watching the acrobatic exploits of 50 kiteboarders in a small town on the Sea, is yet another memory our family will continue to remember and cherish.
We returned to Colorado on January 8, after an exhausting, 13-hour day of traveling. By the evening of January 11, Carl was in the ER with both an MRI and CT Scan revealing many new tumors in his head, neck, and body. He decided to forego more aggressive treatment, and Hospice was waiting for us when we came home from the hospital on January 15. During the next few days, Carl continued to be up and about with his walker; however, on Tuesday he experienced a significant drop in strength and mobility. The following morning, Carl went to be with his Lord. Our family sat around the bed, physically held on to him, prayed him through the pearly gates, and on into heaven.
Two and a half weeks later, our family and friends celebrated the life of my husband. Carl had specified the details, and we had carried them out, titling that day, “Carl’s final production.” …and yet, the producer was nowhere in sight!
The fruits of much planning and scheduling came to a head. The Celebration was held at our First Presbyterian Church on Saturday, February 9, at 2:00pm. It came together beautifully, and as Carl would have wanted, it brought honor and glory to God. Relatives and friends came from far and wide; musicians, speakers, pastors, hosts and hostesses, and others, brought their gifts and talents to the Celebration and reception, which followed. What a glorious day!
Our family continued to celebrate later that evening at Old Chicago with dinner, conversation, and a toast to Carl on his magnificent earthly life, knowing he was watching and smiling from his new heavenly home.
Our hearts are full of gratitude to all of you who have shared our journey; you have showered us with loving thoughts, heartfelt prayers, caring comments, personal hugs, beautiful cards, delicious food, memorial contributions to the Greeley Chorale and TEAM Missions (missionaries Peter and Cher Gatto are our dear friends in La Paz who run a horse therapy ranch for children), and other tokens of your love. CaringBridge, which Carl was so hesitant to pursue, became an inspirational medium to convey what was happening in his week-to-week sojourn; the reconnection of relatives and friends were a source of great joy to him. He was continually teary-eyed by the numbers of people posting and of their personal words of tribute to him.
The most difficult times are now ahead as I endeavor to make the transition from Carl coming through the door with a twinkle in his eye, arms outstretched to give and receive a hug, and saying “hi”, to my coming home alone to an empty, quiet house. Where is the Mr. Fix-it Man that I have known since I have been 13 years old?
As I was being dropped off at St. Mary’s Church to help serve at the Greeley Chorale’s Pops and Pasta event this past Saturday, my son, Gregory, looked at me and said, “Mom, you look as though I’m dropping you off for your first day of school.” In truth, I was feeling very vulnerable. The idea of re-entering the public eye without my husband of 51 years overwhelmed me, and my son saw right to the core of it. After feeling the closeness of relatives near and far, receiving daily help and confirmation from my kids, and sequestering myself from the rest of the world these past few months, I am a little apprehensive. My situation has completely changed, but I must go on with hope, joy, courage, love, and faith. Day after day, I look at all the beautiful cards you have sent our way, and I am reminded that Carl will not be coming back. I would ask that you continue to uphold me, and keep my wonderful family in your prayers.
This Journal will remain open for a period of time should you wish to continue sharing your comments.
Thank you, and I pray blessings on all of you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, and He will rejoice over you with singing.
Marilyn (and family)