The wonderful staff at Oatfield Estates in Milwaukie, where Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah finished their days, prepared the following statement for the memorial they had for him when he passed away on January 1 of this year. We thought it was just perfect.
Milo Chapman loved his wife, this is something you should know. Every resident, staff member and visitor to Tabor House knows this. Because for Milo, this was the most important fact that he could convey. Depending on the day, Milo and Sarah had been married either 66 or 67 years and every single one of those days, for every one of those years, he had told her he loved her.
There are other things you should know about Milo though. He was a man with many passions and interests, who was widely traveled, and a keen business man whose successful dollhouse company brought many people joy with their elaborate and imaginative designs.
Milo loved to garden. When he and Sarah first moved to Oatfield he helped plant thousands of tulip bulbs to beautify the campus, and during the warmer months he would pick the flowers around campus and arrange gorgeous bouquets.
Milo loved food. He had spent a lifetime cooking, for the military, for his family, and throwing lavish dinner parties for his friends. He loved to tell stories of cooking for four star generals, and show pictures of the elaborate cake he had made for his parents 50th wedding anniversary. In his early years at Oatfield he would make breakfast for Sarah and himself. He had the same thing every morning: three eggs over easy, one crisp piece of bacon, one piece of raisin bread toast with plenty of jam, a dish of fruit (served first), and coffee with a little half and half that could only be poured when the eggs and bacon arrived.
Milo loved people. He loved to meet people, to tell them stories and make them laugh. If you asked Milo how he was doing his response was “I’d say pretty good, but I’m not pretty.”
He was also delighted when children came to visit, whether it was staff members bringing their kids in, or when he would pass out candy to trick or treaters on Halloween. On Valentine’s Day he would buy a large number of chocolate boxes and give them out to all who crossed his path.
Milo’s church was another one of his loves. Twice a week he would get dressed up in suit and tie, grab his Bible, and head to worship. He had a deep affection for his fellow church goers and often had visitors from his church. One of the ways he most enjoyed sharing his love of God was through singing hymns, especially his favorite: “Love is the Kingdom’s Banner.”
His family is what Milo held the most dear however. He took great pride in not only their educational accomplishments, but in the qualities of their character. His face would shine when he spoke of his children and grandchildren, and he made sure to introduce them every time they came to visit. Sarah, his wife, was the crowning jewel over all he had accomplished in his life and when she passed last November his heart was irretrievably broken. A short time later, on January 1st, 2017 Milo passed quietly away. He left behind family and friends that are still unable to fill the large hole his passing created. Milo, you are missed, but I’m sure in heaven they have unlimited corn on the cob and creme brûlée done just the way you like it.
This is the second pass at the kitchen design. After Mark P. sent it over we talked about it four a half an hour or so. This and the previous design were good efforts to allow us to start the conversation, but there will be some pretty big changes from what is in this image. We think we might put in a dogleg shaped island and move the sink and the dishwasher from the wall over to the island. The reason for the dogleg is to be able to put the sink in a place where it is possible to see into the living area and out the window. Mark said, and we concur, the view from the sink is very important because so much time is spent there.
The island and what is in it is the major change, but here are quite a few other little changes we think will make the kitchen more usable. One of the main features of the new design is the movement of the sink made the appliances and counter space much less cramped on the wall where the stove will be. It also made more space to the right of the kitchen for the dining area. We plan to have a vegetable sink installed beside the refrigerator and, on the left wall (in this drawing), there will be a small counter that protrudes further out than the narrow cabinets we can use for coffee/tea service.
Grandpa Milo was an amazing cook. He always said presentation of food is often more important that even taste. He said that to everyone who ever cooked with him. Every time Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah came to visit us, Kelly and Christian cooked with him so they heard that mantra a lot. Christian is a good cook, but does not have a lot of time to spend on food. It is so bad, he usually keeps a case of Soylent in his refrigerator for when he just runs out of time, but needs some energy. That is a story for another time.
Kelly, on the other hand, takes the time to cook and has gotten very, very good. She takes Grandpa Milo’s maxim to heart, so her stuff often looks quite amazing. She has been doing this now for years. There are some areas where she needs to broaden out her repertoire, but by and large, she has the fundamentals nailed and, with the all important presentation aspect she is a savant.
12.0 of 60
All my life, I have had people tell me they dreamed about their parents after they died. I have heard it from people in both Mexico and here in the U.S., pretty much described in the same way. I had an odd dream about my parents last night. I do not know what to think about it. Some describe an über-reality that almost transcends the dream state. I cannot say that was true about my dream, but the content and immediate “in the present” nature of the dream gave me pause. I am not really sure how to process all this, but it has definitely given me food for thought.
Lorena and I went to the funeral of a man we really did not know yesterday. It was truly a wonderful funeral of a kind and wonderful man. In form, it was very different from the memorial service held for Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. Yesterday’s funeral was more of a traditional funeral that followed a form to which we are accustomed although there were some wonderful personal accounts at the beginning of the funeral that were different than most we have attended. Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s broke that form significantly, partly to accommodate the varying needs and desires of the family and friends in attendance, but also to remember two fairly non-traditional people instead of one with a familiar, but significantly less than traditional ceremony.
All that being said, both events were beautifully done with Christ as the focus even in those elements of the celebration that addressed the secular elements of the departed. I think that is a testament to the way all of them led their lives, focused on helping others as driven by their devotion to Jesus. In the end, that is all good and that is the point. This morning I read I Corinthians 1 where Paul gave an admonishment to some who counted themselves as having been baptized by one or another of the apostles rather than counting themselves as followers of Christ. I think that reading was very timely and the precise reason why both of the funerals were celebrations of successfully lead lives; all of those lives were focused on Christ and none other. Let this be a reminder to me.
Lorena, Kelly, Christian and I had time to spend together as a nuclear family while we were out in the Pacific Northwest for Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s funeral. We all agreed that in spite of all the hiccups that occurred (really bad weather, cancellation and change of venue at the last minute, etc.), it was the best service of its kind we ever attended. I am sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is our parents and grandparents who were the objects of the whole event, but that does not diminish the joy we experienced in celebrating their lives with dear, dear friends and family.
The photos with this post are of the kids when we had some time just to sit together and talk about life. Even though we are all at a different place now that the kids are off at college and working, we have decided we need to make more time for these kinds of getting together. We want to include our friends in that getting together, too. At these kinds of events it surely seems like all pettiness falls away. We will be contacting all the people who made all this possible over the next week or two to let them know how much they are appreciated.
One gift we received in all this is that we have the opportunity to attend another such event in Dallas this weekend. It is for a man not dissimilar to Grandpa Milo–bigger than life with a lot of love for “the least of these.” I think I learned a lot about how to be a friend at times like this from those who were there for us during these last days. I want to express a special thanks to my siblings who worked very, very hard to make things work well between all us siblings and with the larger, very diverse community. They and a group of close friends (you know who you are) really were the ones that made all this just work and I am grateful for you all.
It seemed appropriate to everyone that there should be at least a modicum of chaos surrounding Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s funeral. Sunday afternoon before the memorial service on Monday, Milwaukie High School called us to let us know that with only 19 hours notice, they decided to close the school and cancel our event. We briefly considered rescheduling because people had flown and drove in from all over the western U.S. Aunt Jean and Uncle Jerry came through with a beautiful venue in Oregon City, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Willamette Falls facility which turned out to be much more well suited for our purposes than the original venue: fabulous acoustics for congregational singing, a well tuned grand piano, a kitchen with an eating area for the potluck, easier parking, etc., etc., etc.
The weather was great, but the driving conditions were not exactly optimal. The picture at the top left shows the Sunset Freeway which was mostly clear, but many of the side streets were very much iced over and difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, the event went on and it was absolutely beautiful. I am more proud of my siblings and the community surrounding Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah than you can possibly imagine. In spite of all the challenges, probably about 250 showed up for the event and it went off without a hitch. It was exactly the send-off we all wanted and would have made them both proud. It was really stunning how everyone helped out, especially the ministers who preached, the piano player who played beautifully, the church members who handled all the setting up, tearing down and serving at the potluck and, of course, my siblings and their families who went to great pains to deal with a gazillion unforeseen obstacles and details. Just thank you to them all.
Lorena and I left Portland around midnight last night and arrived in Dallas just in time for me to go to work yesterday morning. The brief respite from the nasty weather/driving conditions ended today with a horrendous ice storm in the Portland area. I stayed awake long enough to get through the work day then crashed for the night as soon as I got home. I woke this morning with a feeling of gratitude for a loving community that helped us bury our parents in a dignified and respectful way, but with a celebration that would have made Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah proud.
NEW LOCATION!!! — The memorial service had to be changed to:
Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Willamette Falls
710 6th St
Oregon City, Oregon
Time: 11:00 AM
CURRENT STATUS: The memorial service is ON for January 16, at 11:00 AM.
The old place canceled on us at the last minute. We pushed out the time for a half an hour in case people go to the old location where we will have posted a notice.
The weather is monumentally bad all over the Pacific Northwest. Kelly was scheduled to work in Oregon today for her job and just stay there after work today until the funeral. Lorena, Christian and I plan to fly to Seattle today, then drive down to Portland to start helping with all the upcoming events tomorrow. Since the weather did not cooperate and allow Kelly to go to Oregon yesterday, she will meet us in Seattle tonight and drive down to Portland with us. That is a very good thing. I will be nice to have a couple of meals and a night together as a family before we say good bye to Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. Christian took the picture in this post through the window at his gate at the PHX airport with his new Google Pixel phone. To say the conditions were not optimal would be a wild understatement. So far the camera and optical system seem to be crazy good for a cell phone. I hope he remembered to pack his new Fuji camera, too.
Milo and Sarah’s obituaries and weather postponement notice (if necessary)
Just thought I should put this here because the Memorial Service info is not a regular blog post and I wanted people to be able to get to it.
The blog was down for a few days due to technical issues. I am kind of glad for that because so much has been going that if I would have written about it in real time I would certainly have just confused everyone and probably even myself. The good part is the plan for the memorial service for Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah is coming together nicely. Lots of people plan to travel to Oregon and there are lots of people within driving distance. The venue (Milwaukie High School Auditorium in Milwaukie, Oregon–yes I spelled Milwaukie correctly, it is the people in Wisconsin who spell it wrong!) has enough room for 600 people. I am sure there will not be remotely that many people there, but we have plenty of room for everyone to attend who so desires and a great place for a potluck afterward.
The complications have to do with just about everything else: work, houses, travel, etc., etc., but more about that later. I am glad to have my blog back. Those technical difficulties happened at the absolutely least convenient time ever. For the first time in history it was actually being used to get some useful information to people and then it goes down.
Grandpa Milo died January 1. Dad was one of those bigger than life guys who started his life in a migrant farm worker family picking hops, beans and strawberries around the state of Oregon as soon as he was old enough to contribute as a small child, but who went on to all kinds of unique success in business, the military and even in school. He worked physically hard his entire life, even when he no longer needed to. He, like Grandma Sarah, was always a champion of the underdog loving much and doing more than his part in every setting. I do not want to turn this into a eulogy, there will be time for that later, but I wanted to mark his passing with just a few memories and thoughts.
In spite of the fact that I have appeared to be more like my father both in appearance and personality than my other siblings, we were very different from each other in character. It was of great joy to all of us that Aunt Julia is the one who was most like Dad in character and she had a special bond with him because of it. She was the one who had Grandpa Milo’s blond hair and blue eyes, too. Still, each of us kids had a very special and unique bond with Dad. My relationship with him was very, very close. We spoke in person or on the phone several times per week for my entire life–lessening some once I got married and had kids, but never disappearing.
It was one of the great joys of my life to discover that it did not matter that I did not have the same entrepreneurial drive as Grandpa Milo nor great joy in physical labor although I learned to tolerate it a lot more for having been his son. A lot of superficial stuff got in the way of my discovery of that fact. I assumed my success in business, sports, finances and, to a lesser degree, education were important to Dad. My epiphany was that Dad was more interested in my relationship with Jesus, the fulfillment of my responsibilities as a husband, father and member of society and my happiness than any success in following his footsteps with respect to this temporal life–probably in that order.
The picture with this post is of Dad in his mid-70’s. Alzheimer’s disease must have already been working on Dad when this was taken, but no one could tell yet. We like to think it was because of his ever ebullient spirit. He and one of our ministers who had labored in Ecuador for many years stopped on a several mile hike at over 10,000 feet of altitude to eat some oranges that grow there ubiquitously. He did not talk at all about how onerous it must have been–it is hard to breath at 10,000 feet when you live close to sea level, especially when you are over 70 and on an uphill hike. Rather, he reveled in the amazing amount of juice in the oranges and the beauty of the scenery. That was so typical of him. He was not there because he wanted an adventure although he reveled in that, too. He was there to take a friend who could not have made the trip on his own to see his twin brother, one of our ministers who works in the Philippines and was on a trip to preach in South America.
Just a short note to our friends–Grandpa Milo had a stroke on Sunday. Currently, he is confused a lot of the time and does not have the use of his left hand and arm. He was in the hospital for a couple of nights and will be moved to rehab today. After performing diagnostics, the doctors say we will not know if and how much function will return for a few days or weeks. Uncles Rich and Jerry were with him at the hospital as Aunts Julia and Jean were in San Diego and could not get back until yesterday. We really appreciated their stepping in and helping out. Of course, Gary and Drew continue to be true champions for Dad, but also for a lot of other people. We are thankful for all of them.
I signed and returned the acceptance letter for a job offer yesterday. The company’s headquarters are in Vancouver, BC, but I will work from home somewhere in Washington State. This change is quite a big adventure for us. We should be close enough to Grandpa Milo to be able to drive him to church on a semi-regular basis. We will be closer to our kids and be able to see them more often–it is a short drive or train ride to see Kelly or for her to visit us. The job is with a good group of people with whom I have worked as one of their customers for 5-6 years. It is challenging, interesting and will require some travel (Asia, USA and Europe), but not too much after the first round to get to know customers and colleagues.
The adventure part of the whole affair, if we can make it work, is that Lorena wants to find a house to remodel close to a city center. We loved living in downtown Wilsonville when we were last in Oregon with the ability to walk to stores and restaurants. We want to try to duplicate that. We have a real estate agent who says he thinks he can find us something that fills the bill within our budget. He sent us links to places that look great. It might not work out exactly like that, but we are going to give it the old college try and see what happens. Lorena has a plane ticket to fly to Seattle on Tuesday morning to, hopefully, find us “the” house somewhere on the I-5 corridor between Vancouver, WA and Tacoma. We expect to stay in Texas until the second week of January and get back to the Pacific Northwest with our truck full of worldly goods in time to attend Grandma Sarah’s funeral on MLK day in the Portland area.
All Grandma Sarah’s remaining childern (me–Dad, Uncle, Aunt Julia and Aunt Jean–on the left two boxes of the conference call video strip at the top of this post) as well as most of the grandkids (Amy–not pictured, Kylee, Julia and Charlie–in the left three boxes of the strip) as well as some good help from Uncle’s Rich and Jerry got together for a video conference on GoToMeeting to remember Grandma Sarah and plan the funeral. Our sister Amy died of SIDS and Kelly and Christian were traveling home from Thanksgiving.
We laughed and cried, heard lots of stories and had some ideas about what we want to do. It was truly wonderful. I thought he thing that was most interesting was that each of us had a story or two that we just assumed everyone new, but when the story was told, there were some who had no idea. We have a good plan and I have a continued appreciation for the kindness of my siblings. I guess that is an additional tribute to Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Milo, too.
Aunt Jean sent me the grainy picture of Grandma Sarah and I from many moons ago. Like all the other kids, I felt like there was something special between her and and I that was unique to just us. I love that picture.
Lorena has been earning points for shopping at the Tom Thumb supermarket near where we live. She used all her points to buy a new turkey cooking pan and rack because our old pan started to rust. She is giving it double duty to cook the flan. It does not get much better than that–flan and a turkey in a free pan! Lots of reasons, big and small to be thankful.
Grandpa Milo called this morning, too. His Thanksgiving with my siblings and all the kids’ cousins will be tomorrow afternoon just because of how all the timing worked out. The reason he called is because he remembered a hymn he thinks might be good for Grandma Sarah’s funeral. We have to look up–we know the hymn really, really well, but do not know the number off the top of our heads. He sang “…we’ll gather round the throne, a victor throng” and a few more lines we could not quite make out. He is obviously very sad, but much better than a week ago. These are more things for which to be thankful–a recently passed Mother/Grandmother in a good place and Grandpa Milo who stays optimistic in the face of a very difficult time.
Just one more Grandma Sarah story (I cannot help myself). Aunt Julia sent me a chunk of an old instant message she sent me sometime last year. It reminded us that one of Grandma Sarah’s greatest qualities was her boundless kindness and efforts to help “the least of these.”
From Aunt Julia:
I just found this except on a messenger string between Ken and I on 8/4/2015. Mom was feeding a guy named Mike who used to sit at her table. He could still kind of feed himself but Mom would help him because he struggled so much. This is after she had recovered from her surgery but before she got C-dif.
“Mom helps them spoon feed people when they can’t get to everyone. I wish I would have had my camera today, it was very sweet but painfully slow since she can’t see. She would pick up a bite and push it in his direction and he would lean in a bit and she would stretch out a bit and he would lean a little more and so on until the fork reached his mouth… then I would heave a sigh of relief and the whole process would start again It took about 30 minutes for them to get through half of his plate with neither of them getting impatient or losing interest. I just about lost my mind!!!”
My brother, Uncle Doug, my sisters, Aunts Julia and Jean and I all feel good about the arrangements for Grandma Sarah’s funeral. In particular, we feel good about making sure Grandpa Milo gets what he needs. In addition to our plans to make sure someone is checking in on Grandpa Milo now in the short term, but also through the holidays and later on when things settle down after the funeral in January. The sheer number of family and close friends who have reached out to us is testament not only to those friends, but to the lifetime of good will Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah built up over many years.
There was a period of emotionally charged frenetic activity following Grandma Sarah’s death the transitioned into, for me anyway, a couple of days of phone calls with friends and family to thank people for their kindness–family, family with no blood relation (you know who you are), especially people who met in Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s living room for church meetings every Sunday morning or Wednesday meeting for decades and special friends of every stripe.
There are many things for which I am thankful going through these events. One of those is that I have truly loving siblings. They have been absolute champions in every way. They have honorably, selflessly and humbly done everything within their power to not only preserve the dignity of everyone involved, but they have done it at great cost to themselves. I love them and am very thankful for them.
Now, I am just about all cried out–at least for awhile. It is sad that Grandma Sarah is gone, but she had a great live. She loved much and was much loved. Next weekend, the family will help Grandpa Milo get some closure and in January we will look forward to saying a more formal goodbye. We will all miss her, but I can honestly say that the greatest gift she gave all of us is that “it is well with her soul.”
The photo to the left is of Grandma Sarah picking beans with her twin sister Janet’s second son Neil. It is pretty descriptive of a lot of my upbringing. Neil and I were both second sons of about the same age and spent a lot of time together at Grandma Jenkins’s (Grandma Sarah’s mom) and Aunt Janet’s house together for overnight stays and the like. More importantly though, it is a reminder that my generation and the generation before that grew up as a family that harvested crops by hand as manual laborers on farms. In my case, it was mostly beans and strawberries, but a lot of other crops in the previous generation (cherries, hops, etc.). Grandpa Milo’s family worked as migrant farm workers every summer during the harvest seasons of his youth. Grandma Sarah picked strawberries and beans in the summers of her college years (and before) to help pay her way through pharmacy school.
I probably should not tell this story in public, but it is so iconic in terms of how I think about my mother, I just cannot help myself. Both Grandma Sarah and I graduated from Oregon State University. In 1973, I moved into a student co-op directly across the street from where Grandma Sarah lived when she started at Oregon State in 1948. I wrote about that place and its connection with Ted Bundy the serial killer in a previous post on this blog. Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah lived in Newberg when I started school and I often caught a ride with friends to go back home for weekends. Grandma Sarah would then drive me the 60 miles back to Corvallis on Sunday afternoon after church. We would always stop in Monmouth on the way to eat lunch. I have been at that J’s Family Restaurant a lot of times not only for this, but because it is the same restaurant where our dear friend, Susan Rodriguez worked while she was getting her degree at what is now Western Oregon University as well as a good place to eat on the way to watch a Beavers game.
I need to give this story a little context now to diminish the trouble this will cause me. Grandma Sarah had a wonderful uncle who always went to her house for Christmas while she was growing up as a young girl. He smoked cigars and she associated the smell of those cigars with some wonderful memories she had as a child. So, when the mood struck us, we would buy a couple of REALLY cheap cigars (Swisher Sweets) and smoke them together while we finished our drive to Corvallis. She would get that twinkle in her eye that everyone who really knew her has seen when she was about to say something or do something just for the sheer joy of it even though it might be a little bit off in the eyes of those who were a little to uptight or ungracious. I LOVED those trips. They were our thing. I was talking to Aunt Julia last night and she reminded me that she had actually been there one time with us and we bought THREE cigars. I am glad she was there and can confirm my story because I think there are a lot of people who might not believe it if I did not come from someone with a little more credibility than myself.
I thought it would be good to explain the funeral arrangements we are making to say goodbye to Grandma Sarah because they are a little bit out of the ordinary. Doug, Julia and Jean who are very close to the situation and after a lot thought have decided the best way to handle this to accommodate Grandpa Milo’s capabilities would be to do this in two steps. I completely concur with what was decided as it was a kind solution and what the family feels is a fitting way to say goodbye respectfully given the circumstances. Since it was Grandma Sarah wish to be cremated we have more time than we would otherwise. In that light, this is our plan:
Step One. Many know that Grandpa Milo has Alzheimer’s disease and is not as able as in the past. It was felt that in the short term, based on Grandpa Milo’s capabilities and all of our need for some closure it would be good to do something in a much smaller, more controlled venue. To that end, we will have a small family-only dinner in the next week or so to remember Grandma Sarah and disperse the ashes in the rose garden by the pond Grandpa Milo built like they had planned.
Step Two. All of us wanted to have a traditional funeral so all the family and friends Grandma Sarah loved so much and who loved her back can say goodbye, too. Because we have time and due to a number of considerations including the upcoming holidays when it is hard to plan travel, the family thought it would be easier if we did the funeral after the first of the year. It seemed odd to us to wait so long, but someone remembered that was the way it was handled with our dear friend Beth Bellam and it not only went well, but allowed more people to make plans to be there. The next consideration was that Special Meeting rounds start right after the first of the year and end on January 15. Mom’s birthday is on January 18th and we thought that might be a good time to have the funeral and celebrate her life. We talked to our ministers and they thought that would be just fine if that is what the family wanted. We are not sure it will happen exactly on January 18th, but if not, it will be within a few days of that date. We will keep everyone posted.