Herman’s Funeral

I have not yet gone to play tenor sax at the Church of John Coltrane in San Francisco because I have another gig.

Herman Wilms, husband of my sister Mary, died yesterday up in Canada.

She stood beside his bed, watching him slip away. Two months ago, still healthy and happy, he had been diagnosed with bone cancer, and now he was gone. His time had come.

He was known affectionately to my three daughters as “Uncle Herman”. All their growing-up years he had been important in their lives, encouraging them through school and lessons of all sorts from ballet to gymnastics.

His most significant influence on them was during Christmas and Easter celebrations when Herman and Mary’s family, and my family gathered around the table in our huge dining room.

Herman held court at those dinners, all of us listening to his jokes that were mostly funny, and tales of family history that were mostly too long. His eloquent table graces kept my daughters aware of God.

He played jokes on them, and they teased him back.

In Herman’s memory, I have a different kind of gig to perform. Mary wants a slow rendition of “Amazing Grace” at his internment. So I’ll play the sax for him, standing with two grandchildren near his open grave.

The gig at John Coltrane’s church in San Francisco will have to wait until another day.

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