After a long and hard fight with cancer, the German's uncle (who was also his Godfather), Siegfried Juergens, passed away early Friday morning.
Over the past few days, I noticed how very differently people deal with death. Some get very quiet and don't say much. Some are hysterical and cannot stop crying. Others still get angry. The German was quiet and reflective on Friday. There were a few tears, but my mother-in-law was very calm. Siegfried's passing was not unexpected and the family was prepared, but I still find it sad.
In some cultures it is not appropriate to speak of the dead. However, my personal philosophy is that as long as we talk about our loved ones and remember who they were, then they never really leave us. So, let me tell you a bit about my uncle-in-law.
Siegfried Juergens was born on April 15, 1944 in Bohlenbergerfeld. Because he was mentally handicapped, he was a little slower in school than the other children. He never complained, though. He did the best that he could. After eight years in school, he was sent to work on his uncle's farm. Many years of hard farm work followed. In the 1970s Siegfried began working at Bockhorner Klinker, making bricks. He would work there for 25 years.
Siegfried had many hobbies. He liked to travel. He and a friend often traveled to the German and Austrian Alps, which were his favorite. In the 1980s Siegfried even went on a cruise to Norway and was excited to see whales. Just last spring he took his last trip, which was to the Gardasee in Italy. Siegfried highly recommended this tourist destination.
Siegfried enjoyed "Bosseln." Bosseln is an odd game popular in northwest Germany. Basically you roll a ball down the street and two teams take turns chasing it for miles. (If you ever drive through the back roads of northwest Germany, be careful of these people. I almost ran somone over once!) Although he never had a driver's license, he was very proud of his moped, which he kept in top condition his entire life.
His family remembers him as a hard worker, beloved brother, and faithful friend. He never complained about his life and was content with what he had. He would eat almost anything, but did prefer dark beer served at room temperature.
He bravely fought cancer for several years. The German and I last saw him on April 1. We told him about our plans to build a house. He insisted that we use bricks from Bockhorner Klinker. He was very proud of his old company. We will do our best to honor his request.
Siegfried Juergens was 62 years old. He is survived by his sisters (Anita, Lisa, Enne, Irmgard, and Gertraud) and many nieces and nephews, including his beloved Godson, Matthias.
He will be missed.