LV's parents had finally moved, the spring plowing and planting was done, the garden was looking great with it's many rows of vegetables marching across it as neatly as possible. The flowerbeds around the house and all the buildings with their hundreds of flower plants were beginning to look really pretty.
LV was trying to control the starling population around the barnyard while I was weeding and primping one of the flowerbeds. Looking up I saw my brother John walking across our cow pasture. I rose from the grass and went to meet him. I was always so happy to have my family drop by. After greeting him with a cheery welcome, I realized something must be wrong by his sober answer.
"Grandpa Mast passed away about an hour ago." he told me. I stood there, numb. "I have to go let some of the other uncles know yet." he continued sympathetically and turned to go. The beauty of the day was lost to me as I stood there with tears streaming down my face. I knew Grandpa had looked forward to being with Jesus but that didn't make me miss him any less. LV came to see what John had wanted and I was so glad that I had someone to draw comfort from.
I went to the house to change into my black Sunday dress while LV went to hitch our horse to the buggy. We would be spending the rest of the day, until chore time, with Grandma, my parents and the rest of the family that lived nearby.
The next two days we spent all our time between chores at Grandma's house. The rest of the aunts, uncles, and cousins from other communities had arrived already. The house was filled with benches for everyone to sit on and Daddy's house had tables set up so everyone would have a place to eat. Women from the church came to cook and bake and take care of the family. It seemed different to be on the receiving end and while I appreciated it I didn't care for it much at all. I wondered who was digging the grave, since Daddy wouldn't be helping with that this time.
The morning of the funeral arrived and we made sure to be at the house around eight o'clock to be able to join the funeral possession to church. After a short supposedly comforting sermon and prayer everyone got ready to go. Some of the youth boys had made sure that every one's horse was ready to go. All we had to do was get into our buggy. The horses walked slowly all the way to the church house.
After all the family was seated the rest of the church people came and found seats. After two short sermons everyone filed past the coffin for one last glimpse of Grandpa. The church people went first followed by Grandpa's nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters. The grandchildren came next. Pausing next to the coffin it seemed unreal that this would be the last time I would ever see Grandpa. Never again would I have the chance to go talk to him, I wouldn't get to hear him talk any longer and I had always loved listening to his voice. It used to sound as if many little chuckles were hiding in it, but it was silenced now.
I had to move on. Others still needed to have their last turn. Finally his nine children gathered round the coffin, Tears flowed silently, and Vernie stood there stroking his hands until one of the men came and told them to sit down. He took a screw driver from his pocket and fastened the lid. Grandpa had requested his grandsons be the pallbearers. They came and carried his coffin out to the buggy where it would take it's final journey to the nearby graveyard.
Everyone else walked to the graveside. We arrived as they were lowering the coffin into the ground. I noticed one of the men from church forcing his way up between family to stand at the edge of the grave. I felt disgusted and repulsed when I realized why he wanted to be there. He along with the majority of the Somerset Amish believed you could know whether or not the deceased was now in heaven by listening to the first shovel full of dirt that was placed into the grave. If it didn't make noise everything was fine, but if it rattled .....
I wished someone would have warned the pallbearers about that stupid superstition. They had never heard anything like it and heedlessly went and plopped a shovel full of dirt noisily on top of the coffin. As the man drew back, surprised, and shaking his head I felt like slugging him. I didn't believe for an instant that Grandpa's future in eternity was determined by that first shovel full of dirt.