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Memorial trees honor loved ones
Touching, emotional and beautiful were three words used by numerous people attending the 18th annual Myers Memorial Tree Service Tuesday night on the front lawn of Myers Chapel.
The service attracted hundreds of people who attended to pay their respect and remember their loved ones who have died.
Sitting in the first five rows of the audience was the family of Carri Schultz.
“It’s our first year without mom,” said Kayla Delk, 21.
Schultz died in August, Delk said, one month before the birth of Delk's son. Family member Janie Standlee said she’s not missed a year since the service has been offered.
Another Schultz family member, Brittney Giannetto, had placed an ornament for her cousin who died earlier in the day.
“It’s all about family. We all came out earlier in the day and placed the ornaments,” Giannetto said. “We have five rows of family here tonight honoring our loved ones.”
The annual event attracts many who return year after year and others who have recently heard about it.
“To some this is the first year of grieving through the holidays without a special loved one,” said Richard Mendivil, director of Myers Funeral Service and Crematory. “Some of you have been coming for 18 years.”
The service continued with the gathered crowd singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” prayer and scripture reading by Bo Webb, and a couple of songs by the Monache High School Chamber Choir before Keith Hansen, offered the memorial message.
“What a special evening to come and join in the memory of special loved one or loved ones, especially this time of year,” Hansen said.
Hansen talked about the approximate 3,000 ornaments — each one bearing the name or names of loved ones who have died — hanging on four live Christmas trees.
“Each one represents someone very special and very important in our lives,” he said and proceeded to talk about making sense and looking for encouragement for the loss of a loved one.
He offered some words of advice to the crowd, many who could be seen wiping away at tears or hugging and holding other family members as they cried softly.
“Don’t try to forget our loved ones,” he said. “Working through the process is learning to live without them being here.”
He asked those gathered to remember the three “H’s” — inviting them to remember to hang around with each other; to hug, caress and touch each other; and to know when to ‘hush’ and allow the grieving person to speak.
In the audience was Dennis LeBlanc.
“I’m here to honor my daughter, Jennifer LeBlanc. She was only 26 when she was shot and killed in Lindsay on October 12, 2003,” he said. “This is only the second year I’ve been coming to this. I didn’t know about it until last year.”
Also present were Marilyn Bamber, and her daughter Julie Orosco, who traveled from the Central Coast to be at the event. Nothing could keep her away, she said.
“I started coming after my son passed away at age 11,” she said. “We never missed a year.”
With time, the pair said they’ve added other ornaments and an approximate 10 names to the memorial trees.
“We love it. It’s wonderful and the speakers always have the right things to say,” Orosco said. “It’s a wonderful blessing.”
As the service came to a close, the four trees were lit, accentuating the thousands of gold-colored praying hands and little angels adorning the trees.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.