Loved ones celebrated with Tree of Remembrance

PHOTO BY ERIK AULT

Saturday, December 17, 2022; Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home 9811 Denison Ave: An elf ornament basking in the glow of the lights on the Tree of Remembrance.

PHOTO BY ERIK AULT

Saturday, December 17, 2022; Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home 9811 Denison Ave: The Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas stand under the shadow of the Tree of Remembrance.

by Erik Ault

   On December 17, Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home dedicated a Tree of Remembrance for the lives of loved ones who have passed over the past year.

   “We owe it to our loved ones to remain strong and continue sharing their life stories within our own stories. We do this because we are strong enough for the task,” Victoria Shea Martens announced as she welcomed people to the service. The service was held in the funeral home chapel as well as broadcast online.

   “I have the honor of speaking about my cousin, the late Bernadine Zub Martens who passed away 25 years ago,” her cousin Joseph Mosinski shared.  “Bernadine was a loving wife and devoted mother. She spent her years as a funeral director and created wonderful after care programs such as the Tree of Remembrance to help us all remember our loved ones. Those 25 years just shot by,” he said. The funeral home continues to honor her presence by dedicating the Tree of Remembrance every holiday season.

   The service was officiated by Pastor James Beight of Abram Creek Baptist Church in Cleveland. “We recognize that this season can be especially difficult for those who have lost family members. We are asking that this service would be one of the ways you comfort those who grieve,” he prayed, opening the service.

   “It’s vibrant with life, bursting with beauty and heavy laden with love and kindness. It’s an emblem of peace. Its tranquil glows replace the darkness of our fear and hate with the brilliance of peace and love. It’s an expression of joy, and its boughs bear loving gifts for those whom we hold dear,” Pastor Beight remarked as he officially dedicated the tree. The Tree of Remembrance stands in the foyer of the funeral home and is adorned with ornaments decorated by the family members of those who have passed.

   With poetry, reflections and candles, the lives of loved ones were recalled and celebrated. The names of those who have passed away this past year were read, and a separate, smaller tree was dedicated to those children and infants who also passed.

   “There are just so many things that no one can explain when one of us is taken while the rest of us remain,” read Margaret Griffin Mullins.

   Pat Shea honored the military members who passed away by dedicating a flag: “She is a reminder that she is the flag of our country and home, with liberty and justice for all.”

   A wreath was lit by Yvette Walsh and Joseph Mosinski. “A candle has its allotted span of life to burn. Yet while the candle burns, it radiates light and heat. After the candle is extinguished or consumed, the fire of life and love still burns,” Joseph said as they lit the candles. The candles were dedicated to the emotional states people feel when losing a loved one.

   “We must let our sorrow have its time because our joy has had its time. It is because we knew, loved, and delighted in our relationships we remember today that we feel such sorrow in their endings. Our joy came first. Because of the joy, we feel such sorrow. Though the sorrow is strong, we remember our grief. But there will come a day when our joy is greater than our sorrow,” he encouraged service attendees.

   Before the closing blessing by Pastor Beight, Victoria Martens read a final reflection: “As we go into 2023, it may not seem like there’s a light bright enough to lead us on this new journey we have and lead us where our futures may be. But it’s there. We just have to look.”

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