It is with a heavy heart that I write this column. Brother-in-law Jacob (sister Emma’s husband) was admitted to the hospital while we were at the Outer Banks. We were able to talk to him and Emma on Thursday night, but Jacob was very weak and losing out fast. He was airlifted to a bigger hospital. We arrived home from our vacation around 9:45 p.m. and Jacob lost his battle to his illness a little before 1 a.m. Sunday morning. It still does not seem real that he has also been taken from us. Jacob is 48 and so is sister Emma. They had 26 years of marriage together. Emma was a great nurse to Jacob since his illness, and Jacob wanted her beside him in the hospital. Emma and her children and Jacob’s mother were all by his bedside when he passed away.

In eight months’ time we have lost three very dear people and our grief is so strong. We question why but we know God is in control and makes no mistakes. It doesn’t make it any easier.

Long time readers of this column know how close Jacob’s family and ours were. Not a weekend went by it seemed that we weren’t doing something together, until we both had married children and grandchildren and we were sometimes busy with our own families. We would always get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, taking turns to host it. Sisters Verena and Susan would also be there. It doesn’t seem possible that last Thanksgiving we were all together here along with son-in-law Mose, sister Susan, and brother-in-law Jacob. No one was sick, life was good. Now in less than eight months, three out of our families have gone on before us. Sister Emma will have many lonely days. Jacob and Emma have two married daughters. Three sons are still at home — Jacob, 21, Benjamin, 19, and Steven, 14. Jacob and Steven both have muscular dystrophy. Our sympathy goes out to them, but we grieve right along with them. Jacob and my husband Joe are first cousins, so they have always been close and always leaned on each other when they needed help.

The viewing/visitation starts today (Aug. 9) at 2 p.m. and tomorrow at 10 a.m. Funeral services will be on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at Jacob and Emma’s house. We want to do laundry this morning before we go, but it’s supposed to rain. Hopefully it will hold off until it’s dry.

Our trip to the Outer Banks was very nice, but when we heard about Jacob our minds were always on him. I’m so glad we got to talk to him, even if it wasn’t much since he was so weak.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 4th, Joe, son Kevin, and I left home at 2:45 a.m. to meet the two charter buses at the home of Joe’s employer. All the employees and families (wives and children under 16) were there with their luggage.

After loading up, we headed out around 4 a.m. We arrived at the motel in Nags Head, North Carolina around 8:30 or 8:45 p.m. if I remember right. Everyone went to go take their luggage to their rooms. Joe’s employer Daniel ordered pizza for everyone, so we all gathered in the dining area to eat a late supper. The motel had a pool and was right along the Atlantic Ocean, with a nice beach. A lot of the people went swimming or walked out along the beach.

On Thursday we went to Corolla to see the wild horses on the beach. On Friday morning Joe and son Kevin left at 4:45 a.m. to go fishing with a guide. They caught some fish on the ocean. They came back around noon. Around 5 p.m. we left again to go on the two-hour dolphin cruise. We saw a lot of dolphins. We drove through the Allegheny Mountains both times and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It was a nice trip, but with Jacob being ill and then passing away it made us glad to be back home with our loved ones. Son Joseph and daughter Lovina had left Friday for Iowa to attend a reunion with their special friends and family. They arrived back on Sunday and it was good to all be together again. Please pray for us and also for sister Emma and family as they mourn for her dear husband/father/grandfather. God’s blessings to all!

Oatmeal Crunch Bars

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon soda

1 cup quick oats

Mix all ingredients. Spread mixture into ungreased 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes.

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Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Readers can write to her at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her.