Michigan Memorial Trip
Gerick's grandfather, Loren Arthur, passed away on December 16th, 2017. Although we were sad, we were also relieved to know that grandpa wasn't in pain anymore and that his soul could catch up on some well-deserved rest.
In May of this year we packed our bags, jumped on a plane, crammed into a rental car with my two brothers, Chandler + Lowell and his wife, Jill and head to the middle of the state, an appropriately named town called Midland. The brothers competed, trying to recognize old landmarks and structures from our memories of previous vacations. Our first day was spent with my father's side of the family and Jenny was finally able to meet a number of relatives for the first time. We took a walk to the river and had a fun + challenging time trying to take photos of my extremely adorable and energetic second cousin, Ayla. We ate a huge dinner as is the custom at the Engles and then we spent the evening laughing + sharing memories on the front porch. It was perfection.
Day two we left to meet up with my mom's side of the family, the Arthur clan. We played spike-ball, swam in the pool, grilled on the patio and eventually got the cops called on us because the hotel was undoubtedly run by an android sent here from the future to eliminate all fun. Despite one really nasty hotel manager and a grumpy cashier at Aldi, we had a blast being together. On Cinco de Mayo, we got dressed up, loaded up on tissues, and headed to the memorial service at our grandparents hometown church, Homer Methodist. We would hear in the service how Loren fought for our country, helped to install the church steeple, and spent time with his wife, daughters, + grandchildren. We heard powerful words of love + gratitude from his brother Joy and a powerful prayer from my brother Lowell. We sang together. We cried together. We lowered his cremated ashes into the earth and laid flowers over his remains. It was a powerful + impactful experience and when we left the graveyard that afternoon our hearts were full.
I wanted to take a small amount of time to talk about grandpa and his impact on me. Since I wrote this part last, I can tell you it took me a few tissues and a few hugs from Jenny, but I got through it. Also as a side note, my grandpa on my father's side, Gene Engle served in the military as a marine in Korea and we are extremely honored to have two grandfathers who served and fought for our country.
There are no words under the sun that will give proper tribute to my grandfather Loren Arthur. When I think of Pa, I think of what I remember as the coolest grandpa I knew to exist. He could still walk on his hands at the age of 70, he wrestled with us, he took us on 4 wheeler rides around the farm and always had a tool in his hand. I have never met another man who seemed to enjoy hard work as much as he did. I can remember summer vacations at the Midland house or at the Mullet Lake Cabin when grandma would have to send us grandchildren to get him to come to dinner after several unsuccessful tries herself. He was working when we arrived, working when I woke up in the morning, working as I swam with the cousins, and working on the last day of vacation, standing in the driveway, waving a screwdriver in the air as our mini-van slowly drove away and headed back to Minnesota.
Later on in life I would come to understand that he fought in the Korean War, in the Army's 45th Infantry division. I understood that he didn't like to talk about it much and remember a few times when he would get really quiet or just shake his head when the topic came up. Eventually, through the help of meeting and talking with more Korean War Veterans and visiting the Korean War memorials, I did see grandpa open up a bit more about his time there. In 2015, I asked him what he saw there that had the biggest impact on him during his time in the service and he told me about a time where he witnessed a truck full of African American soldiers heading to the front lines. He could remember seeing their eyes and seeing how scared they were. He remembers being extremely upset because they were being sent to the front ahead of the white solders at a time when the fighting was especially deadly. He knew they should have been fighting together.
Even as I write this, I try to put myself in my grandfather's position, and I fall apart. His bravery and the bravery of so many other men and women can not be understood by those like me who have benefited so greatly from their sacrifice. On this trip to Michigan, we paid respects to Loren Arthur and celebrated a beautiful life well lived. As the trumpet played and my ears echoed with gunfire, I looked around at my mother, her two sisters, my cousins, and the new families that are starting to form, and realized how incredible his legacy truly is. His blood, sweat, and tears are the foundation for my existence and I aim to live a life that honors his dedication to his family.
Love you grandpa, rest up.
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