On Sunday, November 9th, Grandpa Basler passed away after a year long battle with cancer. Lowell planned to make the trip to St. Louis for the wake on Wednesday and funeral on Thursday, but decided at the last minute that he wanted “his girls” to be there with him too. So, we packed our things and went to the Albany airport bright and early Wednesday morning arriving in St. Louis at noon. Lowell’s dad’s cousin, Teri, and her husband, Vince, were kind enough to let us use some hotel rewards points and put us up in a hotel since all the family members who live in town were already packed to the seams with out-of-town family members. So, once we got all checked in our room, we freshened up a bit and headed to the funeral home to meet up with everyone before the rosary started at 4:00. Grandma got there at 2:00 and stayed on until after 9:00 that evening, sitting next to Grandpa’s casket to greet the continuous flow of loved ones who came to give their condolences. She was a beautiful site in her famous dress that Grandpa had loved so much, a pillar of strength comforting everyone else in their tears, and celebrating Grandpa’s wonderful life. Of course, at one point, Felicity ended up in her arms and she bragged to each person how she and Grandpa were this youngest great-grandchild’s godparents. We stayed until almost 7:00, but the girls were pretty wiped out from the already long day of airplanes and whatnot, so we headed back to our room for a little dinner and much needed sleep.
On Thursday morning, we got up, ready, out the door, and back to the funeral home by 9:00 for the 45 minute procession to downtown south St. Louis where the funeral mass was said at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral. (click on this to read about the Cathedral, and then click on the link on the page for photos http://www.explorestlouis.com/media/factSheets/fact_francis.asp?PageType) It was a Latin High Mass and so beautiful! I have been to many funerals but never one as lovely as this. The Mass began with the priest and alter boys processing up the aisle to the back of the church, blessing the casket and saying prayers, then there was a procession of Father, Grandpa’s casket, Grandma, then ALL the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren back down to the front of church. We must have been an incredible site of so many people walking up in complete silence. After the beautiful Mass, we made an hour and fifteen minute drive to St. Genevieve, Grandpa and Grandma’s home town, for the burial service. Lowell’s cousin, Luke Basler, spoke some beautiful words about Grandpa and his love for Christ, read from the bible, and concluded with a prayer. Then, two marines (Grandpa served in the marines for 4 years from 1946 to 1950) approached the casket to remove and fold the flag that lay across it while someone played “Taps.” It was so moving to see how much respect they had in their precise steps and slow, careful movements. It was definitely a moment moving you to tears at this point. While this was happening, Lowell (Navy), Lowell’s cousin, Mamie Basler (Coast Guard), and Grandpa & Grandma’s neighbor, John Odom (Army), stood saluting. Words can’t begin to describe that moment! Once the marines folded the flag, they presented it to Mamie who then presented it to Grandma. Beautiful. After that, Lowell’s cousin, Rose Germaine Estrada, sang a beautiful song for Grandpa, bringing to tears anybody who wasn’t at that point already. Finally, as they began to lower Grandpa’s casket into the ground, all the grandkids got handfuls of popcorn that Mom Schaper thought to pop before heading out that morning, to throw in with Grandpa because everytime Grandpa came to visit, one of his favorite things to do was make popcorn and tell the kids how a little kernal turned into popcorn, so that was one of the most treasured memories among all the kids. After all was said and done, we drove a few minutes to a little restaurant called “The Old Brick House” the oldest building west of the Mississippi where we enjoyed a delicious meal of salad, rolls, chicken, mashed potatoes and gravey, and cake, along with a nice time visiting with loved ones.
On Friday, we checked out of our room and went to Grandma’s where we spent most of the day before our flight home that evening. It was so nice to spend time talking about old memories of Grandpa, eat lots of food because thats what we do best at Grandma’s!, and just enjoy soaking in all the family’s company. Our flight left St. Louis at 6:15 and we got back to Albany, got our bag, and to our car by 11:00. The girls held out pretty good for the trip home and were more than excited to see their beds. I have to admit I was too :) It was an incredible trip of life, love, and life giving love that we feel so blessed to have been a part of. May God bless Bob “Grandpa” Basler. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.