Cousin Peter Ellenberger died at the age of 75 on October 13th of this year. His funeral was yesterday. Two weeks ago his military colleagues honored him with a flag and plaque for his 13 years of service in the US Army.
Two years ago, Peter was so fragile that we thought he would not live long. I received permission to leave the local college and take Sassy with us to visit Peter and his wife. We were glad we went, because he looked so fragile. We had a good time there, with Sassy playing games with the dogs. She even sang "The Cattle Dog Blues" with me, and the other dogs howled in the chorus with her.
Peter was like a brother to Chris. He visited her when she was newborn in Europe and attended her baptism. He was a nearby friend in South Bend, Indiana. He and his wife Helene came to our wedding, much later to our son Martin's wedding to Tammy.
Peter served in the Army. He told us a funny story about being accused of waving a knife at an officer. The problem was, the officer was being especially mean to him, giving him hours and hours of extra kitchen duty. Peter complained, waving his potato knife. The idea of gentle Peter being a threat was simply hilarious, and he enjoyed telling the story.
|Pete's military buddies presented these honors|
two weeks before he died. They were also the honor guard later that month.
The Veterans Honor rose reminds me of Peter. The rose begins with a rather fragile stem in our weather. The bloom is so big that the stem can barely hold it up. And yet, if the rose is cut and left on the ground, it keeps its perfect bloom for many days when any other flower would wilt away.
Peter lived almost two years after that "last" visit, and we saw him again on our trip to visit church members in Michigan, last year. He was like the Veterans Honor rose, seemingly fragile, but living on in spite of all reason or medical expectations. He came to America in fragile health, malnourished from the privations of WWII. He was one of five Ellenbergers who became American citizens and also served in the US military. He worked for Bayer in material management and was quite proud of how he could find anything needed. Earlier he made Flintstone vitamins and enjoyed talking about that work.
I brought Holy Communion to Peter and Helene on both visits, as I did with all our members, who live in various states. We talked about faith in Christ, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life.
I told Pete, "I want you to be there when I get to heaven." He smiled. There was never a question of faith, but a good congregation is difficult to find today.
Friends and family sorely miss Pete. He was kindly and considerate, always ready with encouraging words.
Fragrant Cloud rose.