Thursday, August 9, 2012

Life's Interruptions...

No matter how busy we are, life happens.  Interruptions happen.

Today was a funeral for Dan, an Amish neighbor of ours.  He was only 74...way too young...but he passed away on Tuesday after a very brief illness.

Amish funerals are typically held in the home of the deceased.  As soon as the obituary is listed in the newspaper, visitation begins.  Family, friends and neighbors stop in any time during the day to pay their respects.  Yesterday we walked down to Dan and Emma's.  We talked to one of Dan's sons, who was outside with some of the children.  He told us where to go in, so we made our way inside.  The men and women sit separately around the edges of the open rooms.  It was very quiet, and we weren't quite sure what procedure we should follow, but we made our way around the first room where the women sat, shaking hands as we went...that's the way they greet each other.  When we got to Ruth Ann (Dan's daughter in law), she quickly stood and graciously made us feel welcome and comfortable.  I think she sensed our unease, and she took us into the room where the casket was.  Her husband saw her do this, and he and his brother (another neighboring farmer that we know well) joined us.  After a few minutes of quiet talking, we made our way home again.  The buggies and cars rolled by all day and into the evening.

The funeral was this morning.  (Amish funerals are by invitation only, and are in German, so we wouldn't have understood it anyway)  By 9:00 the driveway was full of buggies, and the road lined with vans...some of the English drivers waited in the shade until the service was over.

Around lunch time, we knew that the procession to the graveside was about to begin when a police escort drove by and stopped traffic at the end of the road.   I took these pictures from an upstairs bedroom window...

The Amish hearse...

If you enlarge this picture, you can hopefully see the #10 written on the side of the buggy with chalk.  They do this so that the person directing traffic knows when all of the buggies that are part of the procession have passed.  There were 29 or 30 buggies today.  Jenna was watching from the porch and she counted them...

While the family and close friends were at the graveside, there was work going on back at the house.  Within 45 minutes or so, the benches were cleared away and loaded into this wagon.  This young man is likely taking the wagon back to the house where the next Church services will be held...

As I was running an errand a little while later, I passed a number of buggies coming back from the graveside.  I knew where they were coming from because of the chalk numbers on the side.

Tomorrow will be another will go on.  But it will be different for their family and for the neighborhood.   A new normal.  Dan's thirteen children and fifty grandchildren will miss him.  We'll miss seeing him standing along the road, letting his horse graze on the road bank.  He was a good neighbor!


  1. Oh I am so sorry. Thank you Alica for giving us a glimpse into this life we know not of. B

  2. I am so sorry, I am glad that they have the faith they do in God. My sister-in-law's Dad was a Hutterite. When my Dad was alive he lived in an Amish community like you do. When I would go to visit those shy, quiet young ladies always invited me in and I feel very thankful to have known them.
    I have never seen an Amish funeral. It feels me somehow with a deeper sadness. I wish we had the same kind of traditions. He had 50 grandchildren? He was so blessed wasn't he? I am glad that I have known Mennonites and have worshiped with them and understand a bit of the belief system. I don't know German though. The older people I went to church did though.
    The photos are lovely. They are so haunting. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Bravo to you for being so respectful with your photographs.

    My grandmother, originally a Quaker, was waked at home, and my husband and I have decided to do that, too. It's fitting, somehow.

  4. So sorry to hear that you've lost a good neighbor.

  5. Sorry to hear about the loss of a good neighbor. The pics are nice and respectable for them.

  6. Life does go on and yet it is sad to loose a good neighbor and friend. Often they are hard to come by.
    I like the idea of waking family at home, seems so much personal and real.
    Great post on how the Amish care for each other in hard times.

  7. It sounds like Dan was a good man and will be missed by his family and community.

  8. Alica..
    sorry to hear about your friend and neighbor.
    My heart goes out to his family and friends, as they will miss him so.
    Thank you for sharing your experience and pictures with us... and in such a respectful manner.
    It seems to me, that the Amish conduct their funerals in a very reverent manner.


  9. I am sorry you lost such a sweet neighbor. Thank you for sharing with us, it was as if we were with you on your visit.

  10. A new normal. How right you are.

    Lovely post.


  11. I appreciate a glimpse into another world. A sad day.

  12. Interesting post Alica. Thank you for sharing. Maa

  13. Thanks for this little glimpse into Amish culture. The photos are sad, but very serene.


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