Neal Frank Viemeister | January 14, 1944 to November 3, 2020

Memorial Gathering | Saturday, August 21, 2021 | White Bear Lake, Minnesota


  • Heavy by Mary Oliver
  • Eulogy from a Physicist (Excerpted and Modified) by
  • Lovers on Aran by Seamus Heaney
  • My Own Life (Excerpted) by Oliver Saks

Heavy by Mary Oliver

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely, God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It is not the weight you carry

but how you carry it —
books, bricks, grief–
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled–
roses in the wind,
The sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Eulogy from a Physicist by Aaron Freeman
(excerpted and adapted)

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your family and friends about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. To remind those gathered about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy is created in the universe and none is destroyed. All your energy, every vibration, every BTU of heat, every wave of every particle that you were remains in this world. You want the physicist to tell those who love you that amid the energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone. You’re just less orderly.

This is an abridged adaptation of speech given by writer and performer Aaron Freeman on NPR News “All Things Considered”. You can listen to it here.

 Lovers on Aran by Seamus Heaney

The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas
To possess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?
Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.

My Own Life by Oliver Sacks
(excerpted from essay of reflections on his impending death The New York Times, 2015)

There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. 

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.