Remembering Autumn

Autumn being washed in the sink with caleb.Yesterday we traveled up to BC for Autumn's funeral. It was a time of great sorrow, and great memories. Many traveled far to attend, and many more earnestly desired to travel, but had to remember Autumn in their hearts.

There were representatives from the community, from Autumn's work, from her natal family, from her years of school, and from those she helped. All had been touched by this amazing woman, and wondered to hear how many more she had touched.Children of the community, wearing the shirts of our band, Servant.

We began the day at the gravesite, where about 100 of us gathered to hear the brother of Paul (Autumn's father) read a eulogy with Catholic call and response. It was fitting weather for a funeral- light rain, that bolstered to a heavy downpour and shifts of strong wind. The casket was carried in by Owen and others, and Paul handed out flowers that individuals could lay on the coffin to remember her. My mom brought orange flowers, for Autumn dearly loved that colour.
Autumn and her mom Lydia, in one of our many costume pagaents.
Then we moved on to Emmanuel Mennonite for a light lunch and the service.

The service was heavily attended, with very few available seats. It began with Elsie Weibe-Klingler, a co-worker of Autumn's leading the eulogy, remembering her entire life. We were struck how God's hand had been there through it all, through the ups and downs, formulating her to be the great woman of passionate compassion that she became. Elise began withMy birthday, with Autumn holding a cupcake. Autumn's life in the commune she was born into, as one of the middle-aged children. Autumn often described her childhood as idyllic. In this time she lived a long while on land in Southern Oregon, but also traveled a fair bit. She was exposed to ideals of social justice and commitment to a greater cause. Elise in particular mentioned how much Autumn fondly remembered Caleb, her closest playmate, and Linnea, with whom only a couple weeks prior Autumn had mentioned she wanted to reconnect with.

Autumn, Linnea, & CalebWhen her family had to leave the community, like many other children, she found it difficult to adjust. She learned to navigate high-school, and went through a time when her natural flamboyance was a source of some difficulty for her. She hitch-hiked as a young woman around Canada, and at this time her daughter, Djambe, was born.

In the nine years since she had not risen above those challenges. She had incorporated them to become a greater woman. This was the repeated Halloween costuming- an important holiday for us.  Autumn as an angel with a bag on it's head.testimony of many yesterday. Her growing up in the commune, her trials, the teaching of her parents, and the birth of her daughter had all taught her to have great commitment to justice, and a great compassion for those in need.

Her brother Dylan rose to speak next, sharing from the heart of his journey in relationship with Autumn, and how in the last few months before her death that relationship had grown more than ever before. Autumn had expressed her desire to have a relationship with Dylan not simply with Autumn, Jeremiah, Dylan, & Calebtheir parents between them, but something more direct.

It was then that we sang Creation Calls, a song I have never heard before, but which moved me deeply.

I have felt the wind blow, whispering your name.
I have seen your tears fall, when I watch the rain.

How could I say there is no God

Autumn, Caleb, Daniel, Linnea, & Siv

When all around creation calls

A singing bird, a mighty tree,

The vast expanse of open sea.

Gazing at a bird in flight, soaring through the air,

Lying down beneath the stars, I feel your presence there.

I love to stand at ocean's shore
and feel the thund'ring breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
Autumn, Caleb, & Daniel'neath endless blue horizons frame.

Listening to a river run, watering the earth,

The fragrance of a rose in bloom,

A newborn's cry at birth.

I believe,

I believe.

I believe,

I Autumn & Calebbelieve.

A number of her coworkers also rose to share, universally speaking of how far beyond her years she was, and what a hope and inspiration to the Social Ministry of B.C. she was. At one point my favorite story of the day was shared, to speak of Autumn's care for all. Once, during a lunch with coworkers, she was startled to see a bird fluttering helplessly out in the middle of traffic. Autumn, Caleb, & RobbyWithout a second thought she dashed from the table, and ran to the bird's assistance. She began to direct traffic around the bird, so that it could be saved. Then she looked down, to see it was not one bird, but rather two. And both were so greatly devoted to the preservation of their species that they were completely oblivious to the traffic. A bit chagrined, Autumn returned to her seat. That was the kind of passionate compassion this woman had.

Autumn's BirthdaySome music that Autumn greatly loved was played by Francis Edwards, including the song Brother Sun Sister Moon, the music by Donovan, the words by St. Francis. It was the theme song from the film we toured with around the U.S., leading many to Christ through the story of Francis' message of compassion and poverty. Like the Creation song, it also speaks of Francis love of nature, and how he saw all of Autumn and her mother Lydia in the snow.creation as a brother and sister, because all was made from the same God.

After the service we had a repast, with tables set up with different items and photos bringing Autumn to life before us, while individuals lined up to pay their respects to the family. Finally those who remained and so desired were able to stand up and share some of what Autumn had meant to them, and many from the community Autumn & Linneaspoke at this time, including Sandie, recapitulating her days in front of the mike, her daughter Shaina Rose, Steve, and my mom. In the end Paul & Lydia, Autumn's parents, rose to thank everyone for coming, expressing their grief and gratitude for Autumn's presence in their lives as well.

I had some trepidation of taking photos while at the funeral, but wanted to be able to share the experience with the many who wanted to come Autumn & Calebbut were unable to do so. All the pictures have hovertext so you can identify who is in them.

We shall miss you Autumn. But not always. For one day we shall see you again, and know you, when we meet Him, face to face.
Autumn & Caleb

Autumn & Caleb Autumn & Caleb
Autumn & Caleb Autumn & Caleb
AutumnThe graveside funeral, with Autumn's father Paul, Autumn's sister Bernadette, and Autumn's aunt and uncle, John & Suzie.

The graveside funeral.

Elsie giving the eulogy.Dylan, Autumn's brother, speaking at the funeral.Francis Edwards playing Brother Sun, Sister Moon.My mom, Susan, sharing at the funeral.Shaina Rose sharing at the funeral.Sandie sharing at the funeral.Paul & Lydia, Autumn's parents, thanking everyone for their love for Autumn.


Tanya said…
I wish I could have been there for the service, I moved away from Abbotsford in October though and Virginia is a long ways to travel. Do you have any pictures of Autumn when she was older that you could email me?
@bdul muHib said…
I'm sorry, Tanya, but the only pics I have of Autumn were some special hard copies I got turned into digital. I only got my digital two years ago, and until this summer I was in Africa, so I have no recent digital pics of her. However, one of them posted here shows Autumn when she was a teenager. Additionally, you can find the obituary photo of her here.
Anonymous said…
What a moving tribute, Jedidiah. You have a natural gift for description, tempered by a carefulness for selecting just the right tone, the right words, so excess never ruins your intention.
What a sad day for us all. May everyone continue in prayer this year, for it takes a long time to heal, as you well know. love, mom
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...
Thank you for putting this up abdul. I am a member of Autumn Joy's extended family as we were sponsored by her grandparents Lena and Henry Pankratz back in the early 1980's, (We were one of the original boat people from Vietnam)so I practically grew up with Autumn Joy. Having moved to Toronto I was unable to return for the memorial service with the rest of my family so your online tribute was a blessing.

I will truly miss Autumn Joy's contagious smile. Her kindness and compassion is second to none and she was an absolute delight to be around.

Our Christmases will never be the same now without her and my hearts go out to Dylan, Bernadette, Paul, Lydia, Djambe, Lena, Ron and the rest of the Jenkinson and Pankratz family.

This past year has been especially tough on their family as they lost their patriach in their grandfather Henry Pankratz early last year and now Autumn Joy.

Thank you for sharing your trip to the memorial and your tribute is very heart warming.


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