A Life Well Lived {Part 1}

Hey guys,  I have missed you all!  The break has been wonderful, well, maybe just necessary is the word.  Life doesn’t quite feel like it’s back to normal yet,  I am wondering how long it will take.  I can’t believe that was Spring Break, but the Lord knew we needed those non-homework, non “real life” days, to survive.

  I couldn’t eat at the table this weekend, the empty spot was well, too empty.  So we had a living room movie night dinner.

  There is still a place in my living room where Papa’s bed was, no couch.  It makes me miss him to see it empty, but I just can’t make myself have Dale bring it back in.  All in due time.

  Last night, I was making dinner and Avery comes bounding out to me,

“Momma, can we call Papa and invite him to din……OH.”

  She caught herself, remembering he was gone, hugged me tight and quietly walked away.  We are all getting used to life without a Papa who has dined with us for over a year, who lived with us as of late.

  On Saturday Paxton cried when I said we couldn’t go to Hospice House and see “His Papa”, I reminded him it was because he wasn’t there anymore.  “Oh yeah,” he says, “his body is in the ground at dat church, but he is wiff JESUS in Heaven!”  Then he smiled and ran off.

  Such sweet understanding.

  I don’t shield my kids from death, because there is nothing to fear, not when you have Jesus.  All they needed to know before the funeral, was that they were going to see a shell, the empty body of their beloved Papa.  But he was not there, the sparkly fun part that made him Papa, had already gone on to Heaven to see Jesus.  He is there waiting to greet us with hugs and smiles when its our turn to go home to Jesus.

  So I want to try to share the service with you today, it’s going to take 3 posts, and it’s going to take courage.

  These photos make me bawl; the video, the eulogy, all of it.  But I have committed to share my life with you, our victories, our defeat, our happy moments and our sad, so why not this too?

  Someday, sometime, I am going to have this blog made into a book or two.   Who needs photo albums when your mom has blogged your entire childhood, right!?

Here are some of the photos from one very special Celebration of Life!

  A Life Well Lived 

  Papa was a hunter and fisherman through and through, so when we talked about his celebration of life, we asked if he thought he wanted a formal affair, or something more of a reflection of him.  He said the second.  You should’ve seen his face when I asked him if he’d like everyone to wear their best Camo in his honor.

  His smile lit his face, and his said, “Yeah, that’d be ALRIGHT!”  You have to know him, this is about as excited as he got.  

All these photos are courtesy of our dear friend and talented photographer, Kalene Nisly.  She was nervous about photographing a funeral, it’s not often done.  But WHY? We capture every other milestone moment with photos.

I know I for one, will never regret having these beautiful photos.  These little details captured in time, a tear, a hug…all worth remembering.  We had a blurb put in the program, “Photographs by Kalene as requested by the family” so no one would scowl at her as she slipped around the church.


  I could kick myself for not asking for a photo of the 3 little girls in their special outfits.  I called a friend of mine and asked her if she could PRETTY PLEASE add a couple of layers of ruffles to the bottom of a camo hunting t-shirt for the girls to wear to the funeral like a dress. 

  She called me back and asked if I couldn’t find some old hunting shirts of Papa’s instead.  She was going to use them to make t-shirt skirts!  You guys, they are AMAZING!  What a precious blessing!

  I am SO beyond thrilled with how they turned out.  Keepsakes forever!  When they are done being skirts, there is not reason we couldn’t sew the top shut and make them into a cute throw pillow.  No matter what, they are not going anywhere.  We adore them!IMG_7148

  Waiting for a funeral to start is so much like a wedding day, there are tears, smiles, multiple potty breaks, nerves and anticipation.  We hung out in the church gym while we waited for it all to begin.234

We were told it was time for final goodbyes, the casket was going to be shut for the service.  The siblings had all written their Dad love notes for his 60th birthday in November, they each decided to tuck the love note into the casket with him.


See the duck fabric?  {below}  We had a local Amish craftsman make Papa a beautiful casket for so much more affordably than the funeral homes prices.  And bonus, we got to request a custom Camo liner. 

  We went all over our small town to find something mossy camo, but in the end, this duck, goose, and fish was the winner.  All 3 his “sport of choice”. 

  God knew we needed the last 3 yards the store had in stock, because it was tucked on the shelf waiting for us.  The last spot we checked before giving up the idea all together.  God is soo good!56

  Family prayer time before heading in to be seated….if you look in the background, they are closing the casket during this time.7

  WordPress always gets mad at me for having too many photos per post, so I am going to quit here and do post 2 tomorrow, ok?


12 thoughts on “A Life Well Lived {Part 1}

  1. A life well lived, a man well loved! Saying goodbye is bittersweet but your baby said it so well….out of the mouths of babes. May God bless you all and wrap you in the comfort of His eternal grace as you celebrate Papa Don and happy memories. It will get better and easier in time to adjust…I promise.

  2. Precious! Precious! Beyond measure. I’m wiping tears after reading this personal, heartfelt post. How awesome you got photos of sooo many special moments. It’s just amazing you had so so many ‘personal touches’ to make this a day to honor your camo-lovin’ Papa. May God’s grace continue to keep you all covered as you adjust to your ‘new normal’. Much love to each of you…and many prayers! XO

  3. Pingback: A Life Well Lived {Part 2} | 4 little Fergusons

  4. Pingback: A Life Well Lived {Part 3} | 4 little Fergusons

  5. I am sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing.
    Brave of you to put it in your blog.
    I’m a photographer and I offer Bereavement Services.
    Every service I’ve ever photographed has been special and later much appreciated by the friends and family.
    The concept is much maligned and misunderstood.

  6. What a special tribute to your loved one! I love the camo skirts, and they will be such a special reminder for your girls of their beloved Papa. Thank you for so openly sharing your life with us. Prayers!

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