This is the hardest letter I have ever had to write- If only I could be with you to tell you in person and to give you the comfort that a letter can’t possibly give.
Dad passed away very quickly and quietly Thursday evening, Dec. 3oth, at 7 o’clock. He had just eaten supper- he asked for oatmeal- so I fixed him a big bowl and he ate that, some rye bread, chocolate pudding and milk, then he went to sit in his big chair by the radio to read the paper. Mom and I had done the dishes and I was just going to wash Susan’s hair when Mom called me into the living room.
Dad hadn’t made a sound. He had evidently bent down to get his can that he spit in and Mom could see that something was wrong. I lifted him back in the chair but I am sure he was already unconscious and was gasping just a little. His heart was still beating but only for a few seconds. So he died sitting there very quietly in his chair.
He died, Cliff, just as he has always lived- quietly and without asking for anything. It is a comfort to know he didn’t suffer at the end- as he did so long in the hospital last Spring. If he had been conscious I know he would have tried to struggle- he wanted so much to live to see you boys come home again. He was so proud of you.
He had received three letters from you before he died- one with the Xmas check in- and he had used part of that money to go to the doctor that same day. He was supposed to see him between Xmas and New Years for a check-up. We called the Dr. right away and he said he could tell that day that Dad was very bad. He told us to call a local doctor because he was so far away and by the time he could come he would be gone. We called a Dr. from here but it was too late for him to do anything. I doubt if he could have done anything if he had been here right at the moment because it went so quickly- in the space of 5 minutes.
We called Jean and Jerry and they came right over- as did Inga, Fred, Winnie and Wards. He was still sitting in his chair when the kids came and Wards. He was just like he was resting and we wanted Jerry to see him.
We had him taken to Welander-Quist- a mortuary on W. Broadway. He will be there until Monday. The services are at 1:30 P.M. from the Chapel there. We are having a Rev. Vaage from a Lutheran Church we have been going to here. He will be buried at Sunset Memorial Park- the most beautiful place in the Cities. We wanted him here with us- that’s why we decided not to take him to Appleton. We bought a double lot- so there will be a place for Mom beside him. He has a gray iron casket and will be put into a waterproof vault. We saw him last night. Cliff, he looks so wonderful that I couldn’t cry when I looked at him. He has a look of complete satisfaction and seems to be almost smiling. He looks about 10 years younger.
He is wearing his 3-star service pin on his new brown suit and the ring we all gave him for Xmas. He was so pleased with that, Cliff-especially because it is just like yours. When he put it on Xmas night he swallowed hard and said ‘All I can say is Thanks’ and he meant it for you and Beany as well as for us who heard him say it.
He missed you boys- he used to go into his bedroom and read your letters over and over to himself and he never missed a news broadcast. After he and Mom had been uptown Thurs. they drove to Robbinsdale to mail a box of candy to you. He was always so anxious to have things sent to you. He picked out your knives himself.
He seemed to enjoy Xmas so much- with people here both Xmas Eve and Xmas Day. But he didn’t feel well after Xmas- all that week and didn’t want to go anywhere although he said Thurs. evening that we would have to go to bed early because Fri. we were invited to Alfred’s for dinner and he seemd to want to go there. Sunday-tomorrow- we had planned to be at Jerry’s. He had enjoyed getting cards all through the season. He received cards from all his men. One thing affected him quite deeply, I’m sure-Natzel passed away from stroke the Monday before Xmas.
We received a cable from Beany addressed to Dad on Wednesday- the day before he passed away- so he was so happy to think both of you boys had arrived safely. Beany said ‘Love and best wishes for Xmas and the New Year to all at home- All well’. Later we have had a letter telling us he is in N. Ireland and that he didn’t get sea sick at all although the trip was a little rough. The letter was dated Dec. 15th so his trip must have ben much shorter than yours.
Cliff, I pray that this won’t be too great a shock to you- I think we have all expected it sooner or later since last Spring- although we prayed that he could be with us until we could all be together again. We shall miss him so much here that it’s almost unbearable to think about. He was the most thoughtful and completely unselfish man I have ever known and that is the way he will always live in our memories. God saw fit to take him now and we must accept that from One who surely knows the wisdom of his ways.
We ordered a large casket spray from Mom and all of us with Father on one side and Husband on the other. It will be of red carnations, white pompoms and snapdragons. His 4 brothers, Fred and Dr. Onstad will be pall bearers.
Cliff- we would have cabled immediately but we didn’t want you to have the shock without any details to soften it. I hope we have done right.
Talk to your chaplain, Cliff. He can help you to understand and will give you the comfort we would like to give you if we could be with you. May God bless you and help you to bear this with us- I know he will.
Love from us all,