The Eulogy for Earl Victor Christofferson

11
Jun

Earl Victor Christofferson was born on February 9th, 1944 in the waning months of World War II.  His father was serving in the army at Fort Screven in Savannah Beach, Georgia, and the family moved soon afterwards to Avenal, New Jersey where Earl, the first born child grew up with two brothers, Dale and Eddie, and two sisters Doris and Linda.

 

Earl dropped out of high school to join the army, serving for three years in active duty in Germany.  Along the way he earned his GED.  He returned to New Jersey where he served in the Army Reserves for three more years while working odd jobs before finding employment with Merck as a chemical operator.  He spent the next 35 years working for Merck with a good portion of the time working at the TBZ plant in Rahway helping to develop chemicals to treat heart worm in cattle.  He found the work gratifying.

 

Earl married Leigh in 1967, and although the marriage would last only a few years, it did result in the birth of Earl’s one and only son, Earl Jr. who he treated like gold for the rest of his life.  Although unable to stay married together, through the years Earl and Leigh were able to cooperate well in putting the best interests of Earl Jr. first.

 

From early childhood up through high school approximately once a month Earl Jr. would spend a weekend with his father, first in Edison, and later in Matawan.  Earl, Jr. remembers these as consistently happy times spent doing fun things together with his Dad.  Earl Sr. was drawn to nature, and much of their time was spent out of doors.  They took trips together to Canada.

 

Nancy came into Earl’s life, and most every month Earl Sr., Earl Jr. and Nancy would travel to the Poconos where Nancy had a house.   One week each summer they would go to Daniel’s, a family resort in the Poconos where there was a lot of outdoor fun to enjoy hiking, boating, playing tennis, doing archery, riding mopeds, etc. Nancy and Earl Sr. would go there throughout the year, and long term friendships were formed.

 

Earl Sr.’s heart was broken in 1982 when his younger brother Dale died way too young.

 

He was happy when Barbara came into his son’s life, and rejoiced at their wedding, taking her into his heart as a daughter.  But not long after their wedding Earl Sr.’s heart was broken once more when his other younger brother, Eddied died in 1993.

 

The birth of his three grandchildren – Earl III, Kayla and Ryan – brought him delight. They also became a part of his treasure, and he became their Pop Pop Chris.  He would travel up to Parsippany to share in the family celebrations of all the holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

 

Earl took two trips with his son, Barbara and the grandkids to Charlie’s in the Poconos where he took pleasure in introducing the kids to all the fun things there were to enjoy there.  Five years ago they shared together a trip to Niagara Falls, one of the last times Earl was able to get around unassisted.

 

Since his childhood Earl never had much to do with church, but his soul found nourishment through contact with nature.  He loved to see eagles soaring in the sky, and was fascinated by bears.   He was indignant when he heard of people treating animals with cruelty.

 

Throughout his life Earl would set up bird feeders in his back yard and would spend time every day watching the birds that would come to the feeder.  He always had a pair on binoculars and books to help him identify the various birds.

 

He had a passion for making stained glass, and the images to which he was drawn to came from wildlife.

 

Earl was a hardworking man who would give what he had to help others.   He could be unusually generous with tips to people doing blue color labor, appreciating the often unappreciated efforts of working class people.

 

He bought a piece of property in the Poconos where he planned to build a home in which to retire.  He had hoped to enjoy his golden years of his retirement. But things didn’t work out that way.  Over time his health declined with various physical afflictions, as gradually the horizons of his life grew smaller.  A man who throughout his life had been determined to be independent and self-reliant found himself increasingly relying on the help of others.

 

The past six months were particular painful for Earl.  For whatever reason, he was something of a hoarder – it wasn’t easy for him to let go of things — and life was steadily demanding he let go of everything.

 

“So, I’m not going home?” he would ask repeatedly, struggling to come to terms with the end of his life.  In his last hospital stay he was able to receive visits from Nancy and his sisters, Doris and Linda in which, whether consciously or unconsciously, they said goodbye to one another.