Nov. 28, 2006

Beginning of the Road

by Dane Sorensen

The flowers are wilted and the prayers have faded into the ether. Now the children and wife of Larry Klun are left to deal with the quiet world of grief. For those who were at the funeral service for Larry you could not but notice the familial love shown by Judy, Kelly, Lauren, Barbara and Tom Klun. It was touching, real and emotional. By any human measure Larry's life was too short, but as a poet once said -

It is not our way for flesh to stay and stay,
Our wills do not control our bodies' fate,
Our genes dance and twist our youth away
And the dangers of life must have their say
Of death's end we can but hope to delay.

I was particularly moved and very proud of Kelly Klun and her eulogy of her father. I highly doubt I could ever find the fortitude to do such a poignant speech so soon after the death of my father. I found her speech to be far more thoughtful than the priest's talk, as nice as his was.

Kelly shared a conversation she had with her father about six weeks ago which was so personal and full of relevancy for families today. In that conversation her father talked about his love of family, his contentment of his life, of the value of honesty, ethics and of his no longer having a fear of death. In her eulogy, Kelly thanked him for teaching her these philosophical keys to happiness.

It is a rare thing these days to see an authentic nuclear family where the parents are truly in love with each other and where their greatest accomplishment is the raising of their children to be intelligent and educated adults. The fate of what was once considered a typical family has not been a happy one in this modern United States. Almost half of all marriages will end in divorce. Over 30% of all babies born are illegitimate in the United States. It is not uncommon to see single parent families where the children were fathered by multiple males. 50% of all 12th graders have tried some illegal drugs. Almost 5% of adults in this country use drugs. Alcohol abuse is another problem eagerly picked up by the young from the example set by bad parents. Add in the growing trend of childless by choice couples and it is no wonder why the traditional family is becoming the exception rather than the rule.

If you ask associates at the high school or at the Klun Law Office you will hear that the Klun's have approached their work seriously and have been extremely dedicated. It would be easy to suspect them of being workaholics, but that is far from the case. I found in working with Judy at the high school six years ago that her determination and focus easily shifted to her children. It is obvious Larry had the same abilities. I know this from the last conversation I had with him at the Grand Ely Lodge during election night. We both shared stories about how our children are seizing life by the horns. We both knew the other had taught their children to aim high.

The role of a loving paterfamilias (father of the family) goes back to pre-Christian Roman times, if not longer. In Ely there are many examples of good families where the children are being firmly and happily raised by both a strong father and mother. You will find them in every economic level and every religious flavor. One does not have to be rich to be loving and ethically strong. And in a few cases, with the odds so stacked against them, are single parents actively striving to instill the same virtues. They want their children to do better than they did in love and marriage.

My wife and I chose to move to Ely because we felt that many of the evils and temptations of our culture were missing or limited in a small town. We thought that Ely was at least ten years behind the times and we meant that as a very high compliment. Not all that is present in the big city is good. However, sadly many of the plagues of the big population centers have now reached Ely. Drugs and guns have entered our little school system. At a friend's house I happened to see a few minutes of an afternoon TV show on Oxygen where a teenage girl was sassing her Mom for not letting she and her boyfriend have sex at home. I could not believe what I heard coming out of this young lady's mouth. Nor that is was being heard in this household by children in grade school. It is not easy to keep such trashy behavior from infecting your children when they can be exposed from so many sources.

I know I will never forget the loving hug Judy gave Kelly upon her return from the podium. Both the eulogy and the hug were fitting tributes to Larry Klun, the father. I know that even though he is no longer here in the flesh, his example and beliefs will continue to guide Kelly, Lauren, Barbara and Tom as they carry on. I wish them well and I thank them for being one of the examples of what a family should be. The temptations and the follies of life can seem so attractive to those who do not have parents who protect and warn them with all the power of a loving family.


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