Klæbu, July 24, 2004

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In memory of my father

My father passed away on July 14, and his funeral was a worthy statement of his memory.
My father passed away on July 14, and his funeral was a worthy statement of his memory.

After my father John William passed away on July 14, 67 years old, I have been overwhelmed with greetings, empathy and prayers. My email has been clotted, and people have sent postcards and SMS to my mobile. Even if I haven't had a chance to reply to all of you personally, I appreciate your attention very much.

Last Wednesday, I was carrying my father to the grave, and even if I cried a little, it was a worthy way to say goodbye. Klæbu Church, 500 kilometers north of Oslo was full, and the hymns filled the church so loudly it felt like the walls were shaking. And that was also what my father wanted his funeral to be: rejoice and worship.

In Norway we don't have a tradition of funerals in open caskets. Therefore, I was very happy to see my father last Monday. Together with my brother Jan Ditmar, my mother Marie and my father's oldest sister Anna-Louise, I was able to see him peaceful and beautifully prepared, and we were singing a hymn together:

Together with my brother Jan Ditmar, I carried my father to the grave. Photo by Ole Jostein Lefstad.
Together with my brother Jan Ditmar, I carried my father to the grave. Photo by Ole Jostein Lefstad.

So take my hands, O Lord
And lead me forward
Until I end up in the
Glorious heavenly home
I cannot go alone, anywhere
Wherever you lead, I will follow
He looked exactly the way he used to when he was healthy, and this is the way I want to remember him. Those of you, who know me a little, know that I take pictures in all life situations, and at first my mother didn't understand why I wanted pictures of my father in the casket. However, when we came there, she was very happy I took them.

I'm still in Klæbu, and it is good to be here to help my mother with the practical arrangements. In fact, yesterday, I was helping her to buy a new car, a Toyota Prius. This is quite an amazing car for the future called a hybrid; it has two engines, one electric and one combustion engine. When the batteries are charged, the car will run on the electric engine. I think my mother will be very happy with this car.

And we are doing quite well. Of course, there will be times when we will miss my father very much, but we will for sure keep the good memories.

Blessings

k

--
Kristian Kahrs, foreign journalist
Norwegian mobile: +47 93 00 25 22
http://home.no.net/kkahrs

And here is the email I sent to my friends when my father died.

Prague, July 17, 2004

Dear friends

My mother and father married on Oct. 1. 1966, and they shared a good life togehter, most days with sunshine and a some clouded days.
My mother and father married on Oct. 1. 1966, and they shared a good life togehter, most days with sunshine and a some clouded days.

Wednesday afternoon at 4.15 p.m. my father went home to the Lord. He was admitted into hospital on Sunday because of a heart attack. His heart just couldn't take it anymore.

As many of you know, my father suffered quite a lot the last time he was living, and to me it is a relief that the Lord took him home. On July 10, he celebrated his 67th birthday, but he didn't enjoy it very much. My father loved cakes and all kinds of delicious food, but lately he has not been able to eat; he was getting all his nutrition through a tube into the stomach. On his birthday, he attempted to eat a teaspoon of cake, but unfortunately everything came up again, total disaster. He has been 100 percent dependent on care, and it could take several minutes before we could understand a word he was trying to say; sometimes we just had to give up.

I think I'm done with the grieving period, but I will miss him, or I should rather say that I will miss the man he used to be. It was always my father and I in the family who were the news addicts, and we had to listen to all the news on TV or radio. I will miss the brilliant theologian who was the master of Greek, Hebrew and Latin. I will miss his sermons, and I will miss the loving father who took too much butter, chocolate and other good stuff when he was alone with the kids without my mother.

Family picture 1996, from left: Marie, John William, Jan Ditmar, Torleif and Kristian.
Family picture 1996, from left: Marie, John William, Jan Ditmar, Torleif and Kristian.

My mother called me soon after my father passed away, and then I was in Montenegro leading a friendship camp supported by the Norwegian government. We gathered 100 Serbian and Albanian students in the city of Ulcinj at the border to Albania. It has been a truly remarkable project, and we have opened important new channels of communication between Serbian and Albanian students. One of the Serbian refugee students from Kosovo didn't believe any Albanians could be Christians, but meeting Albanian brothers and sisters changed her mind. The camp has challenged prejudices I believe all of us had before the camp, and I will write more about this in another email, but you can see pictures from the camp here

My mother didn't call me when my father was admitted into hospital because she wanted me to experience the camp. I missed the last couple of days of the eight-day camp. However, it has been a fantastic experience, and it has been very good to be on the camp with my Serbian and new Albanian friends at this time. They have been tremendous good support, and I have been very busy leading the camp, which has been a good thing. I would have been very sad if the Lord had decided to take my father home before the camp.

Now I'm sitting at the airport in Prague waiting for a flight to Oslo, and I will send this letter when I get home to Trondheim 500 kilometers north of Oslo. The funeral will take place on Wednesday.

Blessings

k


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