Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | February 27, 2012

Death comes to us all …

I’m going to turn the blog over to my Mom today. She lost her best friend, Deon, on Sunday and because of this I learned another remarkable lesson from these strong Wisconsin women.

In America (and probably the rest of the developed world), we have turned over end-of-life traditions to professionals. In turn, they have created a recession-proof industry that lobbies legislatures to maintain a strangle-hold on all end-of-life decisions, which makes burying a loved one a very expensive proposition. But every once in a while, a Deon comes along and takes control of the process, and to hell with the “industry.”

Here’s what happened (in Mom’s words):

She passed away this afternoon with ALL of her family around her. It was something to behold.

Deon had researched green funerals some years ago. She told her oldest son that he would have to make a pine box. She told her other son that he would have to dig the hole. She told her daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughters that they would have to bathe her and wrap her in a burial quilt. And that she wanted to be buried on their property.

Her granddaughters took care of her in the hospital since Wednesday, bathing, changing her gown, rubbing her limbs, putting lotion on her, etc. The pine box is ready on a sleigh with a horse to pull the sleigh to the grave. The Heritage Center is preparing the luncheon after the burial [that’s mostly Virginia and me]. Tom asked dad to make a cross with AITI [mother in Finn] and the birth and death years on it. It is done. We have bread and cardamom braid in the freezer that Deon helped make a couple of weeks ago that will be served with the meal.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. They were in a quandary about what she meant about a burial quilt. They went to the fabric shop, bought yardage of fleece material, 2 kinds. On one piece are wolves [which she loved and didn’t want killed] and white for the other piece. The pieces were put together, fringes cut so the two sides could be tied together. The great-grand children tied the fringes and everyone wrote a message on the white side and the burial quilt was done.

Just wanted you to kind of know…….it has been a most extraordinary journey!!!!! She had shared all those details with me, except the quilt, so I knew what they would be going through. And they did it!!!!!



  1. Mark, I am verklempt. I know both of these women–strong, funny, adventurous, compassionate… I could go on and on. I know death in inevitable, but it the death of such a woman is painful, regardless of how tangential your relationship was. Please pass along my condolences to your mom and let her know I miss her presence at book club. Oh, and I miss you and Mel, too……

    • Oh, Kyle, I need to post something light-hearted for you. You are a sweet soul and I know my mom will see your comment. They are incredible women, aren’t they?

  2. Thanks for the post Bro. It has been a tough few days, Mom and Virginia have prepared all the food. Dad’s been busy taking care of Ron and Deon’s place and the dogs. I went to see Deon on Thursday to say my good-bye, she had a crystal in each hand. She was such a sweet, spiritual woman and she waited long enough so everyone had a chance to say their farewells. We will all miss her, but I think she won’t be too far away…she’ll probably be sitting on top of the Menhir Stone during our Mid-Summer celebration.
    Love you guys.

  3. My condolences to the family and The Wollemanns, I know you were very close. Must have been an amazing tribute.

  4. Mark,

    Thanks very much for this moving post–for sharing the hearts and souls of these amazing women. It is always good to have lives to aspire to, and to be reminded that to journey well is worth the effort. My condolences to you and your family… Be well!

  5. that’s my kind of earthy story. Crystals in hand and back to the earth.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  6. I just came across this online and am very sorry to hear about grandma’s friend. Having a best friend is a special thing that will stay with you forever. In your heart and your memories she will always be there.

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