My brother Mark would have turned 65 last week on August 30, an age that often comes with the privileges of retirement, senior discounts, and leisure. He never reached that milestone here on earth. God called him to his heavenly home on May 22, 2018.

On his 64th birthday, we didn’t think to play him John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s When I’m Sixty Four.  He would have smiled at the lines: “I could be handy mending a fuse when your lights have gone,” something he did more than once at Aunt Ruthie’s house.


When doctors told us the end was near in May, our family held vigil at his bedside where where friends and other family said goodbye.




At the service, we reviewed his life with photos.

This is one photo from my sister Jean’s album that was not seen at the memorial service.

Daddy, Mark with binoculars, and Jean, possibly at Pennsylvania’s Little Grand Canyon



Birthday Remembrance at Gus’s Restaurant

Mark’s daughter Kiki, my sister Jean with Linda and Leroy Wentling marked his August 30 birthday with a breakfast in his honor. Displayed on one of the walls behind the coffee shop counter is this photo of Mark taken on the barn loft at Aunt Ruthie’s house.

Italian wedding, a soup choice that day.




He left behind two items which bookend his life: his baby book


            Mother was busy with four children. I happily filled in the details of his baby book in my 12-year-old handwriting.


When we cleared out Aunt Ruthie’s house last year, we found dozens of Victorian valentine cards. He chose these three. Now they are Kiki’s keepsakes.



Amazing Grace

At Mark’s memorial service at Bossler Mennonite Church, we sang the four verses of Amazing Grace à cappella. Voices rang out in 4-part harmony. Obviously, they didn’t sound like the rendition of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, who also died recently.

        A Young Aretha Franklin Sings Amazing Grace


What songs do you associate fondly with the passing of a family member, friend, or well-known person?


Share your observations of rituals for remembering loved ones.