We held the memorial a month later. I had been in Minnesota the whole time. Nana and I had been cleaning out the apartment. I had spent everyday with her. We got to the memorial with picture boards and Elmer in a handcrafted urn. My father made it, not ahead of time (years) like the casket for my other grandfather, but he made it. I was carrying it up the steps and people I have known my whole life, friends of my grandparents didn’t recognize me.
We had a wonderful Quaker service. Most of the family was there including the newest member. One of my cousins had gotten married the weekend Elmer went into hospice. People said many lovely things. I sat there without emotion. My best friend did the crying for me. It was great to see so many of Elmer’s friends: from the commune they had in the 50’s, to the Twin-Cities Meeting that he had helped to start (with many others), to people from NYM that he hand had a hand in beginning (with many others also), to people I knew from People Camp that Elmer brought me to when I was a teen, to people from Duluth and Grand Marais, regular folk and dignitaries alike. I spent most of it with my best friend and other Mothers.
After the meeting potluck we went to my parents’ place for more eating. My older cousin who I rarely see was there. As the oldest grandchildren we had the blessing to have spent more time with Elmer as youngsters. Thus, we have a special bond despite rarely seeing each other. Our younger cousins were raised in a very evangelical Christian household. Only one of the three has turned out to be a liberal like the rest of the family. During dinner the phone rang I went to answer it, it was the DFL calling for money. The DFL is a huge part of why my grandparents moved to Minnesota. But they have kinda sold out to become like the national Democratic Party and that is a bit disenchanting. I said something to the effect when I got off the phone that it was the DFL and I wasn’t giving them money. The new husband of my cousin (one of the younger ones) said he would never give money to Democrats, he was a republican. I new it wasn’t the time to say anything to him…just felt a little bad that he didn’t know the crowd. We are raging unabashed liberals…but Elmer wouldn’t have judged, he would have found something to love in this young man. So I kept my mouth shut. Though, I saw some looks in the room and everyone was surprise that I didn’t take him down…it wasn’t the time. If I meet him again, then I can school him.
The next day, the fam loaded up in 3 cars (yes, I know and we do care about the environment) to go picnic east of Grand Marais. The beach was one of Elmer’s favorite places to picnic, we knew he would want a little of himself there.
Later in the week we took him to Masabi Park Coop. On the way there we stopped at the Wellstone Memorial. After we left Elmer off we went to Hibbing to see Bob Dylan’s childhood home. We split it up that day so the youngsters could ride together. My younger cousin (the liberal one) knows little of us older ones. It was great to spend time with them and the rest of the family. I even got a whole day with my older cousin. Those were the blessings in the situation. Getting to spend so much time with Nana this summer was also a blessing. She is holding up well. They would have been married 63 years in early September. Something I can't even imagine. I can only hope to find a partner to share my life with like my grandparents had in each other.