Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rest In Everlasting Peace Uncle Gilbert

Gilbert Bruhn Family
       I have lost important people in my life along the way, and today was one of those days that you wake up to a phone call that tells you another of those treasured people has passed away.  He was 83 I think.  He lived a long and healthy life.  But it’s never long enough when its someone you can't imagine your life without, we always want one more day, and we are never ready to lose loved ones.
        My Uncle Gilbert, passed away today in Wolf Point Montana. He  lived there as far back as I can remember. He was an auto machanic by profession, but there wasn’t one thing he couldn’t do. He could fix anything; he inherited that trait either by nature or nurture from his father. Besides fixing anything on a car, he might be remodeling a cabin, a kitchen, fixing faulty electricity, or laying under the sink fixing leaky plumbing, I always saw him as one of the smartest men I knew and one of the hardest working as well. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed his cabin and boat at Fort Peck for many years. It was his home away from home, especially when his wife Mary was playing cards in town with her girl friends. He loved that cabin and Fort Peck.
        When I was twelve and my father died from an accident,  Gilbert came from Montana, walked Mom (his sister) up the isle at the funeral  and sat with his arm around her offering a shoulder to cry on and giving her the familar comfort only a brother could. His wife Mary, sat a few rows back with other family members , and sweetly let Gilbert be the caretaker of his sister.

      A few years later my brother passed away. Again, there was Gilbert, arm around Mom, helping her put one foot in front of the other; this time to make that trek past the front pew to gaze at her son one last time, before the casket lid was closed for eternity. Mary again sat with other relatives further back, happy to share Gilbert.  I always have told people that Mary is my definition of class - not just because of those times, but those times said so much about who she is. I feel so sad for her today, and wish I could give her a hug.
       Mary and Gilbert have been married sixty something years. At their 50th anniversary several years back, they danced the polka, waltz, and two step tirelessly ALL NIGHT LONG!  Most of us younger people slumped over in our chairs - wondered where do they get such stamina? That was a fun night.
        My grandparents lived in Blaisdell, North Dakota, a tiny town…so tiny no one knew where it was most of the time! When Gilbert and Mary were coming from Wolf Point, MT to Blaisdell for a visit it was a big deal for everyone!  Grandma thawed out some butter ( they ate oleo but Mary only liked butter, so Grandma made sure she was ready with the butter). When they came home all the seven families congregated and stuffed ourselves into Grandmas tiny house, until it resembled the little ballooning  houses of an old Terrytoon cartoon.  The adults played cards and visited and we grandkids split up and sat in our parents cars in little cousin clicks, or walked to the school playground.  Gilbert was always laughing and telling stories.  The adults bragged about us kids, with a little "oneupmanship" going on, showing latest pictures and painting us in our best light.  Personally, I liked that part haha….
       When my kids were born they remember Gilbert the same way I do, always fixing what needed to be fixed. Sitting around drove Gilbert crazy,  he was a thinker, a lot of us in the Bruhn family are thinkers… almost to a negative, because its hard on your health to think non stop and not be able to shut your mind off and relax.  Shelbey remembers when he was visiting our house once her little wooden rocking chair was broke, and he had me find him some wood clue and pegs and he fixed it for her. No one likes to rock more than Shelbey so she was thrilled to have that fixed and never forgot it! All of my kids love Gilbert and Mary.  Shelbey just said a few days ago, one thing she loved is that Gilbert always wrote and responded to the Christmas cards he received, with a hand written card back, talking about the weather and what he and Mary had been doing.
    Today I’m sad I can’t swing going to Wolf Point for the funeral, I would like to sit in the pew like he did for us so many times, but financially it isn’t feasible from so far away.  I’m sad for Mary, Mary Ann, Gilbert Jr, Debbie, Patty and all the grandkids, that love him so very much, and for who his passing will leave a huge hole. I’m sad for the community of Wolf Point, because he was loved by many.  I’m sad for the rest of us who, with the death of each of these old timers that mean the world to us, we lose one more of a dying breed of that generation. They were honorable, they kept their word to people,  could be trusted to take care of their family for life, and try to do the right thing to the end.

         I’m not saying they were perfect, there are no perfect people, and if ever there were hurts or altercations with family,  I hope none of us let that define the whole relationship, because the good times always outweigh the bad. We are a family, we all share a bond and it has been a blessing, a huge blessing, to grow up knowing you were part of a big family that loves you and you were part of. Think of how many people today don’t have that?  That circle of love of aunts and uncles outside your own nuclear family is so grounding and important.
      There was a framed family tree with gold leaves, and little black and white pictures of all the families,that hung above Grandmas couch there in Blaisdell. It had been presented to Grandpa and Grandma Bruhn on their 50th anniversary. That tree reminds me of a saying that goes… “Like branches on a tree we all grow and go in different directions but our roots remain one”. 

       One of the brightest leaves on that picture has sifted to the ground now,  having fulfilled the job he came to earth to do.  I wish I could be there at his funeral, to look around and appreciate his legacy left behind in the family and friends on his funeral day, but let this be my tribute to someone I have always been proud to call my uncle.
                                                          Much Love,


  1. Your stories are so sweet, you need to put them into a book...I lived in Scobey for 15 yrs, so I went to Wolf Point lots for Dr appts, groceries, shoppin' and so forth...

  2. This is wonderful Pam. I too. am sad at the loss of Gilbert. I remember the help he gave me at the time of Sonnys death. He explained it to me, What had happened. Made it so much easier. My heart goes out to his family.

  3. Thank you for reading this and taking the time to comment and let me know you did..I always appreciate people feedback!