Carl Gerbrandt's Journal
Almost a Year Later...
Written Jan 6, 2014 11:59am by Marilyn Gerbrandt
As I look out towards the Sea of Cortez, I am reminded of the times spent walking on the beaches in Mexico over the past 29 years. The water rises and recedes, just like the events in our lives; nothing stays the same. Our hearts are full one moment, empty the next. However, our God is the same; He cares for us deeply, shares our pain, and rejoices when we look to Him for comfort. He is the great healer and is constantly at our side, holding us by His right hand.
Months have passed since I have written on CaringBridge; Carl left us on January 23, 2013, and we have continued to miss him deeply. We talk about him often, and wonder what he has been doing the past year! Is he still designing ponds in someone’s back yard or conducting a heavenly chorale?!
This past year, 2013, has held surprises, joys, frustrations, delights, and sorrows; the emotions often run deeply – laughter and tears are quick to surface! Lynée has just completed a large photo book of Carl’s life; what a treasure and a beautiful remembrance of who he was professionally, and most importantly, of his personal commitment to his family and friends.
My goals the past months have been to simplify my life and live in the present moment; this is easier said than done! Carl loved large creative projects, did them well, and maintained them with excellence! Greg, Lynée, Matthew, and the grandkids have been helping me with the houses, the yards, the cars, and the other practical aspects of daily living! My helpful neighbors have gotten in the mix also, with their tractor/snow shoveling driveway help as well as the fixings of sprinklers and draining of ponds!
At the end of July, I enjoyed a long weekend in the mountains with Lynée and family; we drove to Crested Butte, CO, where we joined our Robinson family friends in seeing Greg sing a hilarious version of the Barber of Seville! In September, Lynée and I flew to lovely San Francisco for a few days of sightseeing, and then drove to Carmel to hear Greg’s first Don Giovanni performance.
In September, I was asked by the Union Colony Civic Center 25th anniversary committee to give a speech at the anniversary ceremony about our family’s connection to this awesome community center. Over the last 25 years, Carl, Greg, Lynée, and I have performed on that stage many times. I told the audience a few personal stories and they laughed right along with me! Because of many positive comments I received by audience members, maybe in my next life, I’ll be a stand-up comedian!
This fall, I came back to sing with the Greeley Chorale and reveled in the music that filled my soul during the rehearsals and final performance in October. The John Rutter Requiem was very moving to me; the director also had chosen several pieces of music that Carl had directed over the past years.
In November, I flew to Quito, Ecuador, to spend 12 days. I heard Greg sing his first role in the opera Faust, and met his Ecuadorian girlfriend, Inti, and her family. Quito is a lovely city, filled with energy and color. Greg and I also spent two days in the town of Baños, three hours away by bus, hiking in the Andes Mountains to see the amazing waterfalls and ride the cable cars. Greg and I arrived back in Colorado just in time to celebrate our traditional Thanksgiving with our Robinson clan, play our beloved turkey bowl football game, and eat a luscious turkey dinner at Lyneé’s house.
Two weeks later, I packed the suitcase again to leave for La Paz, Mexico, where we have spent much time over the last three years. Greg joined me at the San Jose del Cabo airport, and we boarded the shuttle for La Paz, three hours away. Lynée, Matthew, and the four grandkids came a few days later. The following several weeks were spent enjoying and socializing with our friends, singing as a family at our Christmas Eve service at one of the marinas, carrying out our Christmas Day traditions of breaking the piñata, reading the Christmas story, lighting the candles in our yule log, offering words of thanksgiving, and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus around His birthday cake. We also found time to swim with the whale sharks, go kayaking, watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, spend time at the horse ranch visiting with our missionary friends, the Gatto’s, and relax in the sun and surf in both La Paz and Los Cabos. These family gatherings sustain me and add much joy as I go along in my daily life with my Lord.
Some of you continue to check this CaringBridge site from time to time, and I am grateful for your continued support, love, and prayers over the past year and a half since we, as a family, began this difficult journey. Happy New Year to all of you! Hold your family and friends close to your heart and continue to tell them that you love them! Let us all go forward with hope, joy, faith, love, and peace in this new year – 2014!
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.