Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just an average day

Today was a late funeral. While most are done in the early morning, some are in the afternoon. So, I got there a little before noon to start lining up cars for the procession. Most of the family was already there and lined up for me. So at that point, I figure that it's going to be an easy one for me. So the representative from the funeral home went inside to do whatever it is that they do while I'm standing out in the cold.

Twenty minutes after noon, I start to realize that I've got 3/4 of the parking lot filled and I've still got 40 minutes of people arriving. And the cars keep comming. One after another. By 12:30, I'm on my last row available and my lot for people not going in the procession is FULL. I've got six cars in the driveway awaiting my direction. So while I'm talking with a driver, I'm dialing the funeral home up on my phone. The wind was starting to pick up and causing all sorts of noise on the phone. After a few unheard cries for help, I yell into the phone, "I need Bob out here now!" He came rather quickly and we had to stop traffic on the street, back the people out of the driveway and have them pull onto the grass of the empty lot next door. Meanwhile, people are still coming.

By 1:00 I had cars everywhere I could think to put them. If I could have started a second layer high, it would have been done. Inside, there were people everywhere. This woman had a lot of friends and family and they all wanted to be there. The night before at the visitation we had almost 200 people sign the guest book. At today's funeral, every chair, all 375 were filled and people were standing.

By the time we reached the cemetery with the procession, we realized that the funeral going on at another home in town, had just gotten there before us. It too, was a large one. The guys at the cemetery were panicking. In a snap decision, we decided to go graveside, instead of at the chapel. Mind you it's the last day of November and the clouds above look like one of those movies where they show a bunch of clouds moving in, in a sped-up motion. So the winds were kicking off the shore of Lake Huron and the rain is starting (coming in sideways of course). Umbrellas are collapsing in the wind and high heels are sinking in the mud. We had our favorite reverend going with the flow. He really is amazing. Nothing seems to bother him. And to look at myself or the funeral director, you wouldn't think anything was wrong at all today. Just another average day in the funeral business.

By the time I was on my way back to the garage, the weather had taken a turn for the worst. Those rolling clouds had turned black and it looked like it was night time despite the actual time of 4pm. It was all I could do to keep that 22 foot long Cadillac on the road with the winds blowing from all direction, seemingly all at once. Somehow, I made it through it and now I am home safely. The sun has just set and a gentle rain is falling outside my office window. The Christmas lights that my husband strung in the pines outside are all lit up and glistening in the rain. My dog, Pugsley is nestled at my feet and all is right with the world.

I'll take a knapp now and then head off to work at the drug store.
I challenge anyone with an eight hour a day job, to keep up with me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A very sad night

As a second job, I am a midnight manager for a well known pharmacy. For the past four years that I have been there, we have enjoyed the company, overnight, of our dedicated pharmacist. Both Shelly and Steve worked some crazy hours. Their shifts were 12 hours for 7 days straight with a week off between. Basically working two weeks worth of time in one week. They have been there for all the people that have needed them for all these years in the middle of the night. Unlike the daytime pharmacist, they work alone. No techs to help them out.
Over the years we've become very good friends and have come to count on each other to always be there.
Suddenly, without any warning, our corporate people decided to close our pharmacy at night. The store is still open. But no pharmacy. Last night was the first night with the pharmacy being closed. It was a very strange. First we had to located the keys to lock up and get everything closed. Then the gates came down for the first time in 9 years. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to go over and say something to Shelly. But she wasn't there.  :(

The night before, we threw an impromptu party for our favorite pharmacist to wish her the best in her new position at another store. We all cried. It will never be the same and defiantly feels like a completely different store without them there.

I suppose we will get used to it. But let it be known, we are not happy about it.

Good Luck out there Shelly, we will miss you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

my favorite reverend

Today we had our favorite reverend officiating. Why is he our favorite? He has to be the nicest guy that anyone has ever met. He is the Chaplin at the local hospital and is there for so many people in their last days. He's sat many times and watched as someone takes their last breath. He tells the story of a woman that upon her last breath, she opened her eyes bright and called out her mother's name in the biggest voice that she could (which was barely more than a whisper) and then pass away.

He does his research for each and every person. Asking questions of the family and diving into history books. Everyone is treated like a good friend. He's the kind of guy that we should strive to be like.

He'll start the service talking about the dates. The date the person was born and the date that they passed on. Then reminds everyone, it's not the dates or the longevity that matters. It's how you spent the time that you had here on this beautiful earth. Starting with the date of birth, he tells everyone how much a loaf of bread cost or a gallon of milk when the person was born. Today's guest of honor was born in 1916. It was the year that Henry Ford gave equal pay to women and men. A whole $5 per day. That year, you could buy a new car for approximately $250. Or a modest house for $850. Income tax had not been enacted yet and what you made was yours to keep. Unless you were a young person working and sending money back home for your parents to raise the other kids.

Then he'll work his way through history. Telling bits of common history mixed with facts about the deceased. Like today's woman who learned to dance in the roaring 1920's and kept on dancing until her legs couldn't do it anymore. Then she just stood there on the dance floor while everyone danced around her. He talks about her family and how she would crochet each grandchild an afghan and how she had told him how disappointed she was that she could not finish the one she had started for the great, great grandchild that was still on the way.

He finishes up with a letter that she may like to write from heaven. Telling everyone that she made it there OK and all her family that had passed on before her was there to greet her. And that she will be waiting patiently for each of them as their time comes. And P.S. God says hi.
He gets me every time with that.

The man does a  lot of funerals and his speech is very similar each time. I love how he always puts those personal touches in there. Always remembering to mention key people attending and quirky little things that each person liked to do when they were alive. He reminds us all that it is our turn to live. It's our turn to make memories and pass on bits of knowledge that we've picked up along the way.

After driving out to the cemetery, he'll remind everyone to look around at the dates on the headstones and remember that it's the dash between the dates that matters most.

Spend your dash wisely, he says.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ashes or Dust

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

Jack London
American Author

I must apologize for my absence lately. I have been distracted from my routine. While I welcome these distractions, I realize that it tends to upset what some have become used to. But as the above quote states, I'd rather live my life to the fullest than sit and wait patiently for the end.

The trick I've learned over the past month is to find a balance. If a person wants to have people in his life for the long term, he must find a way to have the exciting experiences, without leaving the ones that he loves behind. I tend to dive head first into everything new when sometimes it's best to test the waters first. My antics lately seem to have pushed some people away. If there is a goal to it all, I'd hope that it stirs things up just enough to push us to the next level, whatever that may be. It's taken me a long time to get where I am and I don't wish to give it all up. But I also do not want to stay stagnant and bored. I'm hoping that my friends will see an even funner side of me. And my husband, a renewed spark or two.

Next weekend, my life-mate and myself will be heading out to Toronto for a much needed weekend together, without the distractions. Toronto is our favorite city with plenty to do all the time. I hope to come back from there completely exhausted, every atom of me in a magnificent glow and a little more balanced.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change."

....Thich Nhat Hanh

This is often a difficult thing to do. If we apply ourselves to understanding our differences, we will all grow. By showing your friends and family that you care enough to try to understand them, they will in turn, try to understand your point of view. In the end we all respect each other for who we are and how we feel about  the issues.

As I'm sure you can tell by the last few post, it's been a weird week. But we are getting through it because we are trying to be understanding of each other. If you are having trouble, I hope these words can help you too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It happens all the time...

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth -
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are Lovers,
And women and women
Who give each other Light,
Often will get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover's hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
'My dear, How can I be more loving to you;
How can I be more Kind?'


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walk Away

For my sister.....

Walk away Walk away Walk away

From gods who demand thoughtless obedience

Walk away

From pettiness that will make you petty

Walk away

From anger that will eat your insides

Walk away

From abuse which steals your soul

Walk away

Gaining strength with each stride

Walk away

Alone, arm-in-arm or in tandem

Walk away

Yet do not run away in fear

Walk away

You, first among equals

Walk away

Holding head high

Walk away


....Frederick J. Cowie, Ph.D.