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it’s difficult to say goodbye

when we find our journey ends

you meant so much to all our lives

on you we did depend

 

to some you were a father and

to others you were a son

a brother to your neighbor and

a friend to everyone

 

to one you were a husband and

to others a brother dear

a brother-in-arms in a war long past

a hero to all who drew near

 

your absence from our lives each day

is felt in many ways

from lending a willing, helping hand

to grandchildren with whom you’d play

 

and though we know that you were not

a man of many words

your honest heart and integrity sprang

from all we saw and heard

 

you never hesitated when

someone would need your help

generous and kind in putting others

first, and not yourself

 

yet, never were you happier than

when working with your hands

in everything you undertook

you did the best you can

 

whether harvesting or tilling

moving cattle or wielding tools,

you took great pride in knowing that

there were always things to do

 

no job too small, no task too great

that you wouldn’t take to hand

and never did adversity

make you less a man

 

 

you tilled the soil of more than land:

but of our hearts and minds

and harvested a crop of love;

now standing here we find

 

that a man like Michael comes along

just once into our lives

and leaves behind a legacy

of humble, prairie pride

 

we’ll miss the way you laugh and smile

at the telling of story or joke

we’ll miss the way your calloused hands

would gladly take the yoke

 

for you worked the land for little gain

to make your dreams come true

and gave silent encouragement

when we weren’t sure what to do

 

so know, dear Mike, your memory

shall never whither or fade

for inside every one of us

a joyous shrine we make

 

though pain and tears you no more bear

still, ours we’ll always know

like warm and gentle prairie rain

upon these hills that flow

 

these hills you strode so many times

these pastures and fields you roamed

handed down from father to son

shall ever be your home

 

beneath the shade of this hallowed tree

we consecrate your remains

ensuring that the land and you

shall never be estranged

 

ashes to ashes, dust to dust

a painless slumber you’ve earned

for, dear Michael, from dust thou art,

and to dust thou shalt return.

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