Early on a Thursday morning, Genie and I pack the HHR red Chevrolet for a long weekend coming back the next Monday. We fill the gas tank on the way out of Albert Lea as we head for Cass Lake, MN. After 327 miles we arrive at the Palace Casino-Hotel where we stayed. As we drive in we notice how dry it looks—the grass is brown, some trees are dropping their leaves—really in need of rain.
We check in and are welcomed back by many employees that we have gotten to know over the many years of staying there while deer hunting and going to the Eelpout Festival. They want to know why we’re there, as they have never seen us there in the summer before.
We were there to attend the “Celebration of Life” for Charles William Nason, a very soft-spoken gentleman with an infectious chuckle/laugh. Charlie came into this world in a time of turmoil (December 7, 1941) and left in a time of turmoil (June 15, 2016). He was a very talented musician, playing guitar by ear only (he couldn’t read music). He played his first professional gig at age 8. He continued playing all through his school-age days, then played in a band in Northern MN and into Canada.
We got to know Charlie over the years by attending Trinity Lutheran Church in Cass Lake, where Charlie was a member along with his CEO (better half), Grace. He would play his guitar along with the great choir and very talented Wayne Hoff, organist and pianist.
Charlie’s “Celebration of Life” service was led by Rev. Beyer. The service was (of course) a musical inspiration followed by a reception at the Cass Lake American Legion with a live band. The service at Trinity began with Wayne Hoff on piano, playing that old country western song, On the Wings of a Snow White Dove. It was followed by the 12-member choir singing, Just a Closer Walk with Thee. Rev. Beyer used Ecclesiastes 3, “A time for everything, a time to be born, a time to die,” as a reading for the day. Gary Larson followed with a solo that portrayed Charlie, Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling. The overflowing congregation then sang In the Garden (where Jesus welcomed Charlie to be his own in Heaven).
The choir closed the service with (while the congregation clapped loudly) When the Saints go Marching In.
There was a brief moment of silence at the end of the service. T’was then I’m sure I heard one person clapping in appreciation. Charlie, was that you?
Bob is a retired AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) agent, currently working on his master’s degree in Volunteering. His wife, Genie, is a retired RN, currently working on her doctor’s degree in Volunteering. They have two children, Deb in North Carolina, and Dan in Vermont. Bob says if you enjoy his column, let him know. If you don’t enjoy it, keep on reading, it can get worse. Words of wisdom: There is always room for God.