Celebrating the Life of Richard Kern

Though we’ve been saddened by the loss of Jason’s father last Thursday, we have since come to celebrate his father’s life. On Sunday a visitation/wake service was held in Fort Branch, Indiana with close family and friends. It was a beautiful service where we all found ourselves remembering Jason’s father. I hope to have a slideshow that was on display at the services posted soon. In the meantime, I have a few moments from the last two days of our trip to share.

Remembering Richard Kern

One of the best parts of the trip was that we were able to reunite with family. I managed to snap one photo of the four Kern boys before the visitation.

Four Kern boys

We’re confident their father would be proud of the bond his four oldest sons made with their half brother and sister, Zach and Abby who are only 9 and 10. One of the saddest thoughts for me of this entire experience is that these two children will move on with life at such a young age, without their father.

The Kern kids

Jason’s family is catholic so Jason chose to place these rosary beads in his father’s casket. We bought these beads during our trip to Jerusalem in 1997 – so we’ve always found them to be a special memento from the Holy Land.

Rosary

THE FUNERAL
We all drove from Ft Branch, Indiana to Bloomington, Illinois after the visitation for the funeral which was held Monday morning at St Mary’s church. It was a touching catholic ceremony where we were surrounded by close family and friends.

THE EULOGY
Jason agreed to give the eulogy at his father’s funeral. It was tough, but he did an amazing job – especially considering how tough the experience has been for him personally. We’ve had several people ask to read the eulogy so we’ve decided to post it on our blog.

George Patton once said:

“It is foolish to mourn those who have died, Rather we should thank God that they have lived.”

Growing up over the years I found my father to be a strong man. As we gather today to remember my father, I think it’s important that we not forget the man we all loved over the years. Though many of us recognize many of his struggles since my mother passed way, his strength is evident in how influential he has been in many of our lives.

Let us not forget…

…the man who was father to us five sons and one daughter.

He was a loving Husband – to my mother, who he never stopped loving, even after she passed away.

He was a step father helping provide love and support to – Randall, Katie, and Derek

He was the oldest of seven children.

He was an Uncle.

He was a grandfather. Sadly his grandchildren Hope, Tyler, Jaylen,  Brylie and his fifth grandchild expected this summer won’t get to know Grandpa Kern as well as they should.

He was a well respected little league baseball and football coach – giving confidence to many children. When he coached us boys it was something we looked forward to because it always meant we got to spend more time with him.

Let us not forget he was a die hard vikings fan. His affection for the purple and gold infected all of us …and still affects us today.

And of course, it’s tough to forget that he was known to have the Snore of a northern grizzly bear.

As we remember my father and we begin to feel sad about our loss, I’d much rather us all remember the memorable moments we all shared with him.

Moments like…

Our Trip to Kentucky when Dad left Adam at gas station.

And then there were the many moments wrestling in the living room with Dad. Many times Josh was encouraged to booty bopp Dad. The consequences of wrestling with Dad often ended with Dad bouncing our heads off his belly.

Or the time Adam and I both sliced our thumbs open with our swiss army knives – after Dad told us not to play with them unless he was around.

We’ll always remember endless hours of volleyball in the pool at Grandma Kern’s house.

Let us remember moments like when Dad use to drive several hours to pick up Terri to see us and my Mom while she was in college.

Though my father left us with many wonderful memories, I think we all recognize my father’s stubbornness over the years. Since our mother passed away he became a man who isolated himself. He was often unwilling to ask for help. I admit, I find myself before you today, living with much regret – wishing I had told him…wishing WE had told him… exactly how we felt these past sixteen years since we lost our mother. This past Thursday as I was present with my brothers when my father passed away, we all found ourselves thinking – If only…

If only…
We had taken more time to visit.
If only…
We had called him a little more.
If only…
We had found a way to keep him closer, when we all knew how much he was hurting.
If only…
We weren’t just as stubborn as our father.
If only…
We had more time with him…more time to tell him just how much we appreciate what he’s done for us all these years.
If only…
We had more time with him…more time to tell him how strong he’s helped us become.
If only…
We had more time with him…more time to tell him just how much we do love him.

As we mourn today, let my father’s passing be a constant reminder of all we’ve learned because of him. It’s important to remember that the story does not end here. His passing has opened a new chapter, a new chapter in all our lives. Let it be a reminder – a reminder that life does go on.

May we always remember…This man we all loved dearly who is now comforted beside our mother in heaven. Both are undoubtedly looking down proudly on the strong family we have before us today.

I’d like to leave you with these parting words from a poem that was shared with a few of us yesterday by my Aunt Allison:

Remember me with smiles and laughter,
For that is how I will remember you all.
If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all,
When I go home to heaven,
How joyful it will be,
For on that day my risen Lord I’ll see,
So why should earthly cares weigh down upon me so –
They will be a distant memory when home at last I go.

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Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 12:26 am  Comments (1)  

Rest in Peace Dad

“Let us be silent so that we may hear the whisper of God.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shortly after 1 p.m. today Jason’s father passed away peacefully, surrounded by several of us who cared for him most. Sadly we lost his father today – a man who should have had so much more life to live passed away at the age of 52.

After meeting with the neurologist this morning we were informed in detail of the heart attack he suffered Monday where he was found not breathing for an extended period of time. Though he was resuscitated on Monday we were told that he had only a 1% chance of living beyond these circumstances. After undergoing many tests it was determined that he was unresponsive and his condition was declining. Collectively our family decided it was in his best interest, and the interest of our family to allow him to live out the last moments of his life peacefully surrounded by those who cared dearly for him.

Though the recent medical problems he’s endured these last few years have brought him much pain – we all know in our hearts how much his heart has hurt since Jason’s mother passed away. We are all certain that he is now comforted beside Jason’s mother in heaven, undoubtedly looking down proudly on the strong family they’ve created.

Currently arrangements are still being made for a visitation service to be held in Evansville, Indiana. The funeral will follow in Bloomington, Illinois where his father will be laid to rest beside Jason’s mother.

Thank you all for your warm wishes in this time of mourning.

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Comments (11)  

Getting ready for a tough trip

Euripides once wrote:

“Lucky that man whose children make his happiness in life and not his grief, the anguished disappointment of his hopes.”

We received the call this morning that we’ve honestly expected for a while now. Not that we’ve been looking forward to this call, but knowing that Jason’s father has been in poor health these last few years we have all completely realized and accepted the possibility of the news we received this morning. Doctors aren’t expecting his father to make it past this week and suspect that he might pass away in the next 72 hours.

Though Jason’s father has been in bad shape the last few years, many of us have not been there by his side  as much as we probably should have through many of the struggles life has brought his way. Over the years we’ve seen him struggle with the effects of diabetes, kidney failure, heart problems, cancer, and attempted suicide. We heard this morning that he had to be resuscitated and the doctor’s fear that he went without oxygen for too long to be responsive once he recovers.

As I told Jason earlier today that I had planned to write something on our blog about his father, similar to what I had written a couple years ago in memory of his grandfather, he said he didn’t know much good I could write about his father. Yes, I admit, over the years I’ve been with Jason – most of our memories of his father have not been the best. In fact, his isolation from our lives and the lives of his brothers has been something tough for us all to accept. The Kern boys have been equally stubborn – really only wishing they had received the attention their father once gave them as children. But rather than thinking of his father’s problems, I instead think it’s far more important to remember…remember the father the Kern boys looked up to as children.

Rich & BG

The Kern family before Josh

Kern family

As I glance back at photos from the past, of two people I truly never knew – I look back and am reminded of the love Jason’s parents shared. A love that has never died, despite Jason’s mother’s passing just over 16 years ago. It’s pretty apparent to us all that his father has been challenged coping with the loss all these years and the only resolution we have with his current health is that in due time he will be reunited with the one person he has missed most all these years, Jason’s mother.

I guess what I fear most is that it might be too late to heal the hurt that their father has caused them all – and that it’s too late for them to tell them how tough these years have been for each of them. As we prepare to take a tough trip to Indiana this week, I remain hopeful that through this situation there is resolution which helps everyone come to terms with how tough it’s been for everyone coping since Jason’s mother passed away many years ago. And though I know prayers right now may not fix the problems that have been endured all these years, I still say prayers that through these tough moments life brings us that Jason’s father and the Kern boys find the peace within themselves to move forward in life.

The Kern boys have so much to be proud of…I know in my heart that their father couldn’t be prouder – despite his actions over the years. Here’s to a man who’s stubbornness only strengthened the hearts of his own children.

Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 2:34 am  Comments (3)