Funerals so often become a type of sad family reunion. Family and friends, who have drifted apart, now come together to say goodbye to a loved one or friend, and wish there had been a just a bit more time to reconnect, before the passing of their loved ones. Everyone lives a busy life, so time always seems to slip away, and before they know it, someone they cared about very much is gone. No one ever means to let the time between visits slip away, and yet I can name two grandfathers right now, who moved away from the state their parents lived in, and it ended up being the last time they saw their fathers alive. In those days, there were more situations in which the children moved away, never to see their family again. The distances were just too far to travel back and forth, like we do these days. Those parting goodbyes were much more sad, because they were real goodbyes.
When my great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer left Iowa with his family to move to Wisconsin, he had no idea that it would be the last time he saw his dad, Allen Spencer. Obviously, anytime we leave a person’s presence, it could be the last time we see them, but it is far less common when living in the same town than living several states away.
It looks to me like my great grandmother my great grandmother, Henriette Hensel, went back to Germany only once after she immigrated to America with her sister and her brother-in-law. Her husband, my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher went back to visit, but taking the entire family again would have been quite costly, so he went alone. I’m sure they were very happy to see him and hear about their life, but it was nevertheless, most likely the last time. I’m sure my great grandmother was sorry she couldn’t go, but by then she has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and travel was difficult.
Even in this day and age, of easy travel, a move far away could prove to be the last time a family gets to see the departing loved one, but thankfully with things like the telephone, Skype, FaceTime, email, and Facebook, staying connected isn’t as difficult as it used to be. It doesn’t replace the reunions, because one on one time spent with loved ones is so important, but it is better than the way things used to be. Somehow, a letter from home is not quite the same as being able to see them in person, or at least via Skype or FaceTime.