April Jeppson: There’s power and love that only family provides

Published 6:36 pm Thursday, February 6, 2020

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


My grandmother had six brothers: Wally, Cliff, Pete, Ralph, Herman and his twin brother, Harry. I grew up around my great-uncles. Growing up, all but one lived within a 20-mile radius of me. I kind of thought everyone lived that way. Talking to my husband, he doesn’t know the siblings of his grandparents. Apparently most people don’t. My great-uncle Herman passed away last weekend, and I’ve just been in deep thought about it. Here is an excerpt from his obituary. It does such a great job of painting a picture of this wonderful man.

Email newsletter signup

“Herman Ekelund, 88, of Big Sandy Lake, was born July 28, 1931, in Aitkin to Richard and Ethel (Warner) Ekelund minutes after his twin brother, Harry. Graduating from McGregor High School in 1949, he then joined the Navy with Harry. He was stationed at Whidbey Island, Washington, where he served as a radio operator on a P2V Neptune Patrol Bomber during the Korean War for four years and flying a total of 1800 hours. In 1952 at Mt. Vernon, Washington, Herman was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart and lifetime love, Doree Boelter.  They had a double ceremony with twin brother Harry and his fiancée, Barbara, just before leaving for a six-month tour in Japan.

Together, they raised their family in the Big Sandy Lake area. He worked with his father, Richard, at his small sawmill, which later became Ekelund Lumber. Ekelund Lumber is well known for its native paneling, which is showcased around in many of the local homes and businesses, including Grace Lutheran Church. Herman was active in the VFW post and American Legion. He and his brother Harry proudly carried the colors for Memorial Day services for over 50 years. He taught his family the meaning of patriotism and that you always stand for the American flag.  Herman was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.”

I literally grew up with the best family. I had all this love and support and, most importantly, such solid role models. A lot of people don’t get to really know their grandparents. I was fortunate enough to know my great-aunts and uncles. How cool is that?

We would gather each year in the summertime at my great-grandmother’s place. These all-day picnics were the best. I’d get to see second cousins who lived out of town, swim in the leech-infested water, eat all the potluck food. Mmm — there’s just something about a good family potluck.

In the summer, I was often dropped off at my grandmas. When she left the house to visit her friends and family, I got to tag along. I spent so many hours playing quietly in the living room of my uncles’ houses. Sometimes I got to sit at the table and join in on a game of cribbage. I also got to have a piece of cake or a bar. People just don’t do this anymore. If I had impromptu guests, I wouldn’t have snacks ready. Heck, I don’t know if I’d answer the door if someone knocked without texting me first. Kind of makes me sad.

I remember when my grandpa died. I was pretty young and this was my first close death that I remember. I don’t remember much about that day, but I do recall one of my uncles coming up to me and smiling. He gave me a compliment, and then he gave me a hug. It felt so good to be wrapped up in his arms. Even as a child, I recognized the power and love that only a family can provide.

To say I’m looking forward to going up north this weekend, isn’t accurate. I’m sad — sad to my core. But I’m looking forward to seeing my family. To reminiscing, laughing, sharing old stories and just feeling the love from my family. Even though my uncle is gone, his legacy ensures he won’t be forgotten.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.