Surprising Jana at Work

Wednesday, March 30

DSC_9374Just as we were finishing supper, Jere called to ask if we wanted to go along with them to surprise Jana for her birthday. (Thankfully we had not eaten dessert!)

She was working at Fox Meadows Creamery.

DSC_9377Diane (left) had just arrived from Maine, so she was pleased to be part of the surprise.

Her youngest daughter, Lydia, came for a three-day conference. Diane came along to keep her company on the drive.

DSC_9378We all sang Happy Birthday as we walked in the door. 🙂

DSC_9383I love doing impromptu things.

The other patrons enjoyed our surprise as well.




DSC_9389Diane chose a variety of flavors.

DSC_9390Enjoying our ice cream

DSC_9393I usually get vanilla ice cream, but this flavor – Spearmint Matcha – caught my attention.

I now have a new favorite flavor of ice cream, so we brought a half gallon.

Pictures from Mother High’s Funeral

Wednesday, March 2 ~ Friday, March 4 ~ Saturday, March 5

1 (1)It’s nice to see a pretty bird on a sad day.

1 (2)Kristen and Debbie came here to design our family’s picture board for the viewing and funeral.

1 (3)Arranging pictures

1 (4)Kristen is an avid scrap booker, so her Cricut was a great help.

1aEveryone’s photo boards at Mother’s funeral. The flowers were from the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.


2bMel & Velda’s family

2c (1)Elvin & Patti’s

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Bob & Doris’

3 (1)Casket Bearers preparing to go to the gravesite.

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3 (3)Grandsons and a grandson-in-law: This side – left to right – David Richard, Ted Clements, Bryan High, Japheth Stauffer. Back side – left to right – Jeff High, Donald Rhoads, Jon Stauffer, Jere High. There was a funeral director behind the casket.

3 (4)Mike Zimmerman – right – conducted the graveside service.

3 (6)Preparing to release balloons

If you missed that, you can see it on my entry the day of the funeral –

3 (7)Elizabeth’s friend Nsimba and Inge speaking Portuguese.

3 (8)Enjoying a delicious meal in the basement of Erb Mennonite Church.

3 (9)During open mike, we were asked to share memories of Mother. Jesse told his dad that he wanted to tell everyone about a memory Great-grandma shared with him just a few days before her death.

She told him that when he was quite little – during a Christmas gift exchange – he touched every present and asked, “Mine? Mine?”

3 (10)That reminded Jere of a Christmas when Grandpa and Grandma forgot to get him a gift. He was just a little guy, so was quite disappointed. But she made up for it by bringing him two gifts from a trip to Florida – just after Christmas.

3 (11)Dorretta shared a few of her favorite memories.

3 (12)After lunch our great-grandson, Anthony, stood still just long enough for me to get a picture.

3aCasket flowers from mother’s children

3bPretty flowers from our TFC president and his wife – Scott and Karen.


3ccThe large bouquet of flowers from her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

3dThis is what it looked like after each of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren took a flower or bouquet to keep in her memory.

DSC_8650I designed a bouquet out of the leftovers when everyone else was finished.

Saying Goodbye to Mother High

Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5

I am posting a few highlights from Mother’s viewing and funeral (yesterday and today) – then when the other pictures come up in my rotation, I will show you the rest.

DSC_8487This was the day we said goodbye to the body that Mother lived in while here on earth. I took this picture before the viewing began last night.

I told Cerwin that this will be a first for him as he will be standing at the head of the line – next to the casket. There has always been a parent between us and the casket. Now we are both “orphans.” I tell my step-mother, Velma, that she keeps us from feeling totally orphaned. 🙂

Many of us said, we would love to know what Mother is seeing and doing. She had many dreams (visions) of Heaven in recent weeks – and often told us about them.

A few weeks ago she said her friend, Mildred Weaver, who went to Heaven several years ago, was showing her around a beautiful place and said, “You should come here and live with us.” Mother replied, “It looks expensive.”

Then she woke up and said, “I was still in my bed, and realized that Mildred was showing me around Heaven.”

After she died, Cerwin said, “Now she is enjoying that expensive place.” 🙂

…and it was all paid by Jesus.

DSC_8504Her children: Elvin, Cerwin, Velda, and Doris

DSC_8497With their spouses: Elvin, Pat, Cerwin, Me, Mel, Velda, Bob, and Doris

We laughed and cried this weekend. We did pretty good until our children and grandchildren went by the casket to say their final goodbyes.

It was difficult to say goodbye – even though we know she is no longer in that 98+-year-old-body.

Then we joined those who had already filled the sanctuary of Erb Mennonite Church and delighted in the memories and thoughts shared by David High, III, Lester Zimmerman, and Jim Leaman – and cried through a few of her favorite songs.

DSC_8540After Mike Zimmerman shared a few more memories and thoughts at her gravesite, many of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren released fifty colorful balloons to signify the release of her spirit and soul.

DSC_8552Release of the spirit and soul of our godly mother and grandmother – what a beautiful thought.


Yes, we needed coats. It was cold outside.

DSC_8564Grandchildren and spouses

DSC_8571While we were getting the grandchildren and their spouses together, we asked the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to go around the corner and get assembled for their picture – tall in the back, short in the front.

Okay, everyone. Smile. I guess Jere felt a need to lighten the mood. 🙂 Just before we took the first picture, he ran in front of them – waving his arms – causing lots of laughter and giggles.

DSC_8585Most of the great-grandchildren were at the funeral. I think only two were missing.

DSC_8594About the time we thought we had our shots of the great-grandchildren, two mothers hurried into the setting with their little children. 🙂 Notice baby Daisy in Elizabeth’s arms – front left – and Bryson – second from the right in the front row.

We learned later in the day that mother’s next great-grandchild, will be a boy, and his name is Caleb Joshua High. He will be born in July and is Bryson’s baby brother.

DSC_8623Following the meal we got the three great-great-grandchildren to pose for us.

DSC_8628Owen and Audrina know each other because they are cousins – both are Mel and Velda’s great-grandchildren. Anthony is our great-grandson and a second cousin to them.

DSC_8636I guess Owen thought it was time to get acquainted, and pulled Anthony a bit closer. 🙂

DSC_8640Oh, what a series of days.

If you were there yesterday or today – thank you. We were encouraged and blessed by the many, many friends who came to hug us, share their memories, and offer their sympathy.

Thank you also for the online condolences and beautiful cards that continue to arrive in the mailbox.

Thanks to the Staff at Landis Homes

Friday, February 26

Mother (2)

When we went back to Landis Homes on Friday morning to remove Mother’s belongings, we saw this beautiful memorial – outside her door.

Mother (3)

Cerwin and his sister, Velda, with Mother’s cartfull of personal items. Elvin removed a few things the day before – the clock and TV belong to his family.


There are not enough words in the English language to describe our gratefulness to the nurses and staff at Landis Homes who cared for her. I think they loved her almost as much as we did. When those on duty heard about her death, some came to her room and cried with us.

On our final visit – when we emptied her room – we had trouble getting to her room because so many nurses and staff stopped us to offer their sympathy and give us hugs.


Pray for Cerwin’s family us as we prepare for her viewing and funeral (Friday and Saturday). Several have a long trip ahead of them – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Since the service is at Erb Mennonite – where Mel and Velda attend – they have the bulk of the service arrangements to set up. Each of us is preparing a 24″ x 36″ white board of photos of our individual family members. These will be presented inside glass covered frames – on an easel stand.

I was asked to set up a printed memorial folder similar to the one I did for Cerwin’s dad.

I spent the last few days working on a slide show and am enjoying wonderful memories as I find pictures in my files and receive photos from other family members via email or disk. The only requirement is that Mother/Grandma is on each photo.

My problem now is reducing the number of photos so the slides only last about 15 or 20 minutes. I would like them to rotate a few times during the viewing and while people wait for the service to begin on Saturday. Before doing any deleting of similar or duplicates or making a collage of others, I have 1,202 pictures – and I am getting more tomorrow evening. Yes, they each include a picture of Mother. I think that is a 3 hour slide show. That means I have some deleting and combining to do this week. 🙂

My Last Day With Mother High

It doesn’t seem quite right to do a normal post tonight, so I will tell you a bit about my mother-in-law – especially my last  day and a half with her.

3a (1)I met her fifty-five years ago when I was 17 and she was 43. That is when I first began dating her oldest son. (This picture of her and Daddy was probably taken a few years later.) She was dedicated to honoring and pleasing Daddy.

1g DORIS' PEACHES 9-04 (12)She was hardworking, spunky, and fun-loving. She enjoyed traveling and helping her children. She was never overbearing, but patient and loving toward me – her first daughter-in-law.

1C Alisha and Great Grandma High 5-6-06 (2)In her later years, a highlight of her days was meeting new grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. She loved when they came to visit her.

DSCN4313She was healthy most of her life. Cerwin thinks she was in the hospital one time before I met her – for a hysterectomy. She had some heart issues in her later life and was given a pacemaker, then years later a replacement. (The above picture is from 2007.)

Her general health changed toward the end of 2014 when she fell and broke her hip – at the age of 97. We weren’t sure that she was going to live through that – and she did have fragile health for a few months. Then springtime came and she was almost back to her normal self – except she spent most of her days in a wheelchair or in her favorite La-Z-Boy in Room 129 of Oregon House in Landis Homes. Several months later – after therapy was finished – she was moved to the room directly below – Room 29 in Manheim House. I am not sure that I ever saw her dislike anything as much as therapy. 🙂

DSC_7786Photo from February 5 – twenty days ago.

She never regained her strength after her hospital experience in mid-January. Before long she was too weak to be moved to her La-Z-Boy and was bedfast for the past month, but was usually comfortable – except for the toes on her right foot. This was the result of poor circulation.

We saw a gradual decline in her health and strength, and before long she needed strong meds to control the pain in her toes. Last week the pain also began affecting the toes on her left foot. Soon she needed stronger meds, which caused her to sleep away most of her days and nights. The family was pleased when we found her alert.


Now to her last day and a half.

I arrived in her room yesterday about 10:00 AM – after a routine dentist appointment. She appeared to be sleeping, but when I touched her arm to let her know I was there, she opened her eyes and said, “Kiss.” I was smiling inside and out to know that she recognized me. Cerwin and I (and most of the family) always kissed her when we arrived and when we left.

Cerwin’s sister Velda came a short time later. The family had decided to begin with Hospice – and the Hospice representative was supposed to arrive between 10:30 and 11:00 AM. (They and Landis Homes nursing staff work together.)

I think it was after the Hospice rep came when we noticed that Mother wasn’t always breathing. It happened so quietly that we barely noticed at first. After the rep left, Velda and I watched Mother closely for her breathing pattern. I was wondering when we would know that it was time for someone in the family to be with her around the clock. I hadn’t planned to stay all day, and I am not sure that Velda did either, but we both seemed to know that it was “time” to begin our vigil.

Sometime later in the day the “death rattle” began and morphine was given on an hourly basis to keep her comfortable. Most of the time the breathing rattle became comfortable to us because we knew she was breathing. She became a bit uncomfortable toward evening but the morphine amount was increased and she soon relaxed again – settling into a comfortable rattle.

Mel, Velda, Cerwin, Elvin, and Pat decided to go for supper. I wasn’t hungry and asked Cerwin to bring me some ice cream.

I offered to stay for the night and sleep on the La-Z-Boy. The others agreed because of morning appointments and some have evening meds they need to take – and they did not have them along.

We each told our children what was going on. Our son Jere and Kristen stopped in for a bit. Kristen is a nurse for the doctor who cares for Mother. They had a sweet visit and prayer with her.

A nurse brought me a blanket and pillow, and by 10 PM I was nestled in the chair. I kept a light on so I could keep an eye on Mother and so the nurses had light when they came to give her morphine every hour. By this time she was breathing so quietly that I occasionally checked to see if she was still breathing.

I  slept pretty well from 10:30 until 3:00 – occasionally hearing a nurse or Mother’s chime clock. A night supervisor friend of mine came to see me at 2:45, but I was sleeping. When the nurse came at 3:00 to give Mother her medicine, I woke up and heard that her breathing was becoming labored and the rattle had become more of a gurgle.

Before long I sat on a chair next to her, trying to comfort her by letting her know I was still there. I was troubled by her breathing, but the nurse said it was normal. She also said that this could go on for a few days. 🙁

I asked the nurse if she could contact my friend Orpha Strausbaugh and tell her that I was now awake. She came and we caught up on each others lives – and kept an eye on Mother. She also assured me that the death rattle was normal. Before long Mother was breathing with a comfortable rattle and Orpha went back to her office.

I went to the Café for a cup of coffee, then sat by Mother as I read a book and enjoyed my coffee.

Velda awoke early, so arrived about 6:00 AM. I told her about the evening and we visited while sitting close to Mother. About 6:45 Mother’s breathing became labored again and soon it was much worse than at 3:00  AM. We called a nurse – who gave her morphine – probably about fifteen minutes before her hour was up.

I had decided to wait until daylight to go home, and had my coat on when Mother began having difficulty breathing. Before long I took my coat off and stood next to Velda as we watched Mother struggle to breathe.

All of a sudden her breathing relaxed. I looked at her face and said, “Something changed.” Velda agreed. Then, she was gone. Both of us were amazed and delighted to be there. Velda because she came earlier than she planned, and me because I had not gone home.

It happened so peacefully and quickly at 7:12 AM that there was no time to call anyone.


Before long Cerwin, Mel, and Elvin arrived. Then there were representatives from Landis Homes, Hospice, and Buch Funeral Home. Everyone was thoughtful and kind. Nurses came to hug us, cry, and say goodbye to Mother.

We made lots of phone calls and sent lots of texts. I did a quick post on Facebook.

After the activity stopped, we gathered a few of her things and went home for a bit before going to Buch Funeral Home to plan the viewing and funeral.

For local people – the funeral will be next weekend (Friday and Saturday) because of the number of family members who are coming from various states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maine. The obituary will be in Monday’s newspaper. The undertaker encouraged us to wait until Monday instead of publishing it tomorrow – so nobody shows up at Landis Homes (viewing) or Erb Mennonite (funeral) one week early. 🙂

As I sat next to her, the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:25 (CEV) seemed real: Christ will rule until he puts all his enemies under his power, and the last enemy he destroys will be death. 

It has been a long day and a half for us, and I am ready to get out of the clothes that I have been wearing since yesterday morning. 🙂

God was gracious in allowing us to have Mother for so many years and though we shed many tears today, we are praising the Lord that she is now HOME.

Update On Cerwin’s Mother

Mother High seems to be getting weaker by the day. Today Cerwin asked if she is dreaming about Heaven these days. Her voice is now very weak, so we leaned in close to hear her say, “A lot.”

He asked if she can describe Heaven. She said, “It’s difficult to describe, but it’s BEAUTIFUL.”

We try to tell her about things we are doing, which gets difficult because we visit every day. Today I told her that we will be labeling and mailing “The Highway News” tomorrow. About five minutes later she asked, “When are you mailing The Highway News?” I said, “Tomorrow.” Then I asked if she remembers when she helped us?” She replied, “Yes. I enjoyed that.”

I asked if she is comfortable. She said, “Sort of.” I asked, “Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?” She replied, “Water.” Today I gave it to her on one of those sponges on a stick – for the first time. There has been a package of them on the counter for the past week, but I have been putting off using them. Today she had trouble drinking from a cup – or using the straw.

We are treasuring every moment – and crying a lot – as we think about the need to say goodbye to her in the near future. We have said goodbye to both of my parents and Cerwin’s dad, so we know the routine – but it is never the same – and you never know when you are hearing their voice for the last time. A time will probably come when we talk – knowing that she is hearing us – but she will not have the strength to talk to us.

Cerwin’s oldest sister, Velda, is doing a great job of keeping us up-to-date with what the doctors and nurses are doing and saying. Cerwin talks to at least one of his siblings every day as we update each other on our daily visits. His sister Doris and her family live in Minnesota, so we also try to keep them updated – which is one of the reasons I write these posts. We also know there are other family members who are praying and concerned about her.

Keep her and us in your prayers. Today when we arrived a nurse was sitting with her. Just sitting there. The nursing staff is fabulous and incredibly caring. They love her too. We couldn’t ask for a better medical staff.


This morning we sang a song in church that I have not heard in a long time.

It took me back many years – to August 1968 – when it was sung at my Grandpa Hawthorne’s funeral. (He is my mother’s father.) It was mentioned as one of his favorite songs.

That is when the song Ivory Palaces also became a favorite hymn of mine.

Hawthorne - Grandpa & Grandma-001

Ivory Palaces

  1. My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
    And myrrh their texture fills;
    Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
    With joy my being thrills.
  2. His life had also its sorrows sore,
    For aloes had a part;
    And when I think of the cross He bore,
    My eyes with teardrops start.
  3. His garments, too, were in cassia dipped,
    With healing in a touch;
    In paths of sin had my feet e’er slipped—
    He’s saved me from its clutch.
  4. In garments glorious He will come,
    To open wide the door;
    And I shall enter my heav’nly home,
    To dwell forevermore.

Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.

When looking up the lyrics I found this interesting information:

Henry Barraclough wrote the words and Donald Paul Hustad composed the music.

In the summer of 1915 the famous Dr. J Wilbur Chapman was preaching at the Presbyterian conference grounds in North Carolina. With him was the pianist Henry Barraclough. Barraclough was twenty-four year old fellow from England. The evangelist spoke one evening on Psalm 45.

Psalm 45:8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

The spices and perfumes mentioned here were used for many purposes. They were poured on clothes for a perfume. ‘Myrrh’ was an exotic perfume. ‘Aloes’ was bitter herb used in embalming. ‘Cassia’ was a spicy perfume that was also a medication.

After the evening services, ‘Charlie’ Alexander and Henry Barraclough drove some friends to the YMCA a few miles away. Sitting in the front seat of the car, young Barraclough thought about the Psalm 45 sermon and three short verses of this hymn began to shape in his mind.

When they stopped, he quickly wrote down the words on a ‘visitor’s card,’ the only thing available. Once he returned to the conference grounds, he wrote the tune to the words, and the next morning Mr. Brown and Mrs. Alexander sang the new song at the conference meeting. Dr. Chapman then suggested that Barraclough add a fourth verse.

Back to my grandparents

Hawthorne - Grandpa & GrandmaThis is how most of the oldest grandchildren remember them.

Another memory: each time we visited them, grandpa served root beer floats, pretzels, and bologna pieces.

1a Grandpa Hawthorne's TombstoneGrandpa died nine days short of his 75th birthday.

Grandma died at the age of 71 years and nine months.

Oh, wow. In 2 1/2 months Cerwin will be 75. Tomorrow I will be 72.

A Birthday Party For Bryson – The Party

Saturday Afternoon, August 8




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1 (8)Brothers

Bryson is Elvin’s grandson.

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1 (10)I liked the “speed” marks on the cake. 🙂

1 (11)Bailey and Peyton watching the candle lighting.

1 (12)Singing “Happy Birthday”

1 (13)Held by his mom

1 (14)He was more interested in the cars than in the cake.

1 (15)Yum! The icing is good.

2Grandma High

His mom decided it would be wise to remove his shirt.

2aAunt Crystal threatening to eat his cake.

3Grandpa High

3aLeslie’s mom and brother

Tomorrow (21)

Tomorrow (22)

Tomorrow (24)

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Tomorrow (28)We left the party with the wonderful taste of cake on our taste buds.

A Birthday Party For Bryson – The Place

Saturday Afternoon, August 8

0 (1)This was one of the nicest playgrounds I have ever seen.

0 (2)The birthday boy – our great-nephew.

0 (2a)This party was for his 2nd birthday.

I am not sure he realized that the party was all about him – but he had lots of fun.

0 (3)The pavilion and playground

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2aAunt Crystal and Uncle Jakey

2b (1)Leslie (his mom), Jakey, Crystal, and Leslie’s mother.

2b (1a)Playing with cousin Peyton

2b (2)This was a favorite area – and fun on a warm day.

2b (3)Just push this button – and there is a spray of water to run through.

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2b (8)Peyton, Bailey, and Bryson

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2b (13)

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3 (1)There were also some pretty flowers surrounding the play area.

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4fThere was even a cloud that looked like a birthday cake. 🙂


Tomorrow night the party.