Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I thought that I would collect my thoughts as I drove the short distance between Bend and Lapine on Saturday. I was heading first to the Day reunion and then to help out at David Miltenberger's service.

When we swung by Carrie's house, Jay jumped into my car. We had been together at a car show on Friday night and he had his matchbox Cobra with him. So, for a while, we discussed the Cobra and who built it and how fast it was. We talked of how the one on Friday had special seat belts. "Just like the ones they had on the go carts.", he stated.

As we drove by the road to Paulina, he said, "Hey, lets forget about this reunion and go fishing, Papa!". He began to rattle off all of the fish that you could catch there. His latest obsession, Jay can pretty much tell you every fish and where to catch them and what to use for bait. I hope he keeps this sponge mind. I told him that he should use that same trick to better his grades in school. "Fishing isn't like math, Papa.", he explained.

We enjoyed the reunion, seeing relatives that we don't see that often and walking around looking at the various charts that Sherry had worked so hard on and put up. Jay found that he was listed as just 'Smith' so we corrected that for them. We sat at the table with his 'Uncle Gene', joking and laughing while we waited to eat. When the time came to eat, I only had a few minutes before I needed to leave for the service. I downed my food like a restaurant manager needing to get on to his job, jumped in my car and headed to the cemetery.

I met up with Kathy, David's sister there and we went over the service and what they wanted me to recite. After we talked, the man from the funeral home brought some more chairs and turned on the CD player that played 'Home on the Range'. This special song was written by David's great grandfather, originally as a Hymn.

Kathy and I had gone to school together and shortly another classmate, Don Fredrickson, showed up. Don is a manager at the Ford company in Salem. We stood and talked about the obvious, cars. Soon, David's family showed up. I watched as they all made their way to the small covered area. His wife, Faith, was off to the side, talking with one of her nieces that I knew.

I walked over and said 'Hi' to both of them. Faith seemed excited to meet me telling me that David had spoke of my family so highly. I told her that Marvin would be there and as I spoke, he drove up. As Marvin walked towards us, I introduced them and Faith's eyes lite up. She began to cry as she thanked him for all that he had been for her departed husband. Marvin explained how special David had been to him in those high school years.

I could see that she wanted some alone time with him so I talked with the niece and we walked back to the larger group. I watched as Faith took him by the arm and showed him the grave stone.

I stood to the side and went over the reading one more time. Then, Kathy called everyone over to the service. I watched as the children took places. The girls, Rebecca, Ruth, Rachel, and Charity, seemed to pair up, with two standing up to the side, while the other two sat at the end of the first row. The older boy, Joel, sat between his youngest siblings, Jonathan and Joshua, leaving a spot for his mother between him and the youngest. The middle son, Josiah, stood in the back. "That was were David would have stood.", I thought. I watched Joel as he worked to pick up the spirits of the two younger Miltenbergers. He got Josiah to grin but although Jonathan's spirits seem to lift from the attention of his big brother, his smile remained hidden.

The service was simple, as David would have wanted, with a prayer and then the reading of the obituary and short paragraph from the family. Then we listened and sang 'Home on the Range'. I then began the sharing time which ended up with some of the kids sharing and then Faith. Faith spoke of the great thought that David and her had put into each of the children's names. She showed how each one of them was special and how their names created an even closer bond. I smiled and thought of how it showed the character of David as he was always one who put much thought into things before he did or said something. We all laughed as Rebecca revealed how she helped give Jonathan his middle name. It seems that she had a crush on a boy named Jonathan at the time and his last name became her brothers middle when she made the sneaky suggestion.

We then sang a song that had meant much to David called 'You lift me up'. I listened as the kids, especially the elders sang the song with such meaning. I finished off with a prayer and the group dispensed to head to the grange hall.

I went over to the grange hall and talked for a while before saying my goodbyes. As I walked to the car, the family drove up. I stopped and watched them spill out of their cars. After the service, I had listened to Faith talk to my mom and as my mom spoke of the night that David had accepted the Lord. She talked of his happiness that night saying that he was almost giddy. It brought back memories that I had forgotten about as I remembered that night myself and how incredibly happy he had been. I was thinking of that as I stared at the family as they walked to the hall. Such an incredible group and outstanding legacy for this man and his wife. All different but all having the same touch placed upon them. I wondered who had the greater influence, David or Faith.

I stood and talked with Faith for a while before I said my goodbyes and headed home. I pondered on the different things that his children had said about their father and one theme stood out in my mind. He trusted them. It is something so simple and yet equally hard to do for a parent of a teen.

Sunday morning as I sat at the counter, one of the waitresses asked me of how my day had gone on Saturday. I began to share with her and others around me of how taken that I was of this incredible (I have tried not to use that word too much but it seems to be the theme for them.) family had affected me.

Tony stopped and said, "Hey, why don't you create a new burger. With lots of cheese. You could call it the 'Melting Burger'.....get it....Melting Burger....Miltenberger?".

"I get it, Tone, thanks."

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