For Rita Hummel of Conrad, the death of her grandparents is proof positive that the promise of eternal life is real.
Merlin Adair, 98, and Jeanette Adair, 96, both of Reinbeck, passed away within two days of each other.
Merlin died March 3, and Jeanette March 5, both at Sunrise Hill Care Center in Traer.
Hummel wanted to share with others the lives and death of her beloved grandparents, and how they continued to amaze family members right up until death called.
"They were inseparable and took care of each other to the end," Hummel said. "They both went peacefully to the Lord after 75 years of marriage. They lived a Christian life to aspire to, and they did the same in death."
Their lives together were a true love story and their love was strong enough to take them away together.
Merlin was "Gramp" and Jeanette was "Nanny" to Hummel.
She and all of the grandchildren were close to the couple.
Hummel said she will always remember them as extremely active people, both in their years of work and retirement.
Their love of healthy living was clearly evident to Hummel, who has spent part of her career as a personal trainer at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.
"Nanny took great care in preparing healthy home cooked meals, with much of it being from their vegetable garden," she said. They did not rest in retirement. They traveled in the winter to Florida and Texas. In the spring, summer and fall they were busy with the garden. They both got up every morning and had a list of chores to do every day, but they also took time to play golf together and enjoyed fellowship with friends.
Hummel remembers Gramp as being outside constantly - deer hunting, fishing, gardening, pulling leaves out of the gutter and shoveling the walk, until a stroke befell him one year ago.
Hummel also recalled him as having a great sense of humor and an accomplished jokester, especially at family Christmas events.
At one, Gramp modeled a pair of Iowa State boxer shorts, preceded by a round of Cyclone-Hawkeye gag gifting.
In addition to golf, Nanny liked to bowl, play cards and tend to her vegetable and rose gardens. And she was a wonderful homemaker and, with Merlin, active in the United Methodist Church as well.
The ravages of Alzheimer's disease took hold on Nanny approximately eight years ago, cutting into her active lifestyle and two years ago required Gramp to put her in Sunrise Hill Care Center.
"It just about broke his heart," said Hummel. "But he knew the nursing home kept her safe. The staff at would watch him come to visit and notice his visible decline in health. He couldn't care for her by himself anymore and needed help."
After Gramp suffered a stroke, he joined Nanny at the care center.
They shared the same bedroom.
"We were sad about grandpa's health declining, but happy they were together again," Hummel said. "She always worried about him up until the very end, just as he worried about her."
Death came first to Gramp.
My grandma took her last breath while being sung to by Rachel from Cedar Valley Hospice. The song was "I Can Only Imagine". The same one that was sung to their son Curt three years ago, when he passed under the care of hospice - that gave us all goose-bumps."
Hummel said that watching them pass away so peacefully and together, has deepened her faith in God and eternal life.
A joint funeral service was held on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Reinbeck United Methodist Church in Reinbeck.
"The joint funeral will be a perfect ending for an inseparable couple," Hummel said.