Thursday, January 6, 2011

101st post

For my 101st post, we'll take a look back at some of the funerals that we've done lately. A montage' of sorts.

The days since Christmas have been especially busy in our little corner of the world. It's true that there is a spike in deaths near the holidays. I still think that people get too worked up over getting everything just perfect. Sometimes God has to come along and slap us. Telling us to calm down.

When our hearse is booked for a certain day and we get a call for another funeral, we'll have to call another service company to help out. For the first time since we started this company, I called him to ask if he could help out and he declined saying that he had six hearses on the road already and needed another one and was about to call me. After making several calls, everyone was satisfied and all the funerals were covered.
We've had quite the array of services. Last night, I even had our first night service. Often with cremation, the family will opt to have a night service because it's easier for family and friends to attend. However, we as a hearse service do not typically participate in those. This family wanted to bring the casket out to the waiting hearse. So, I was there as requested. The north end of town got hit with a snow storm dumping about six inches on us during the service while the south end got nothing at all. 

What also made this service different than most was that the woman who died of a quick bout with cancer, had organized the whole thing herself. She wrote her own eulogy as well as her own obituary.  It was interesting to hear everything from her own perspective. She talked in her eulogy about how she loved to travel with her family and how she was afraid. She was afraid because she would have to make this trip on her own. She organized who would sing and what songs. The only thing that she didn't organize was the date. It was a very touching service.
We had another service where the man who died was 95 years old. His wife of 73 years is 94. In her frail state, she could barely be separated from her beloved husband of so many years. As the open casket containing her husband sat quietly in the front of the church during the service, she sat at his side in a folding chair. Often reaching over to stroke his hair or just lay her hand upon his.
It was difficult not to cry a little for her as he was lowered into the ground beneath the headstone that contained both of their names.On a lighter note, there was the procession that got lost. As people arrive at the service, we ask them if they would like to ride in the procession or not. If so, we line them for a smooth exit, without any gaps in the line. We do this for safety sake. Once we are on the road, any gaps will translate into accidents. Other motorist will think that the procession has ended and continue on their way. Then there will be the straggler that didn't keep up. Well, when we are about to pull out, we go around and make sure that everyone has their headlights on and cars running. From time to time, we will get those that don't want to waste their gas or whatever, and they won't start their car until everyone is moving. You can guess where this is going. My partner was leading this procession. He pulled out of the funeral home slowly. The first 4 cars right behind. When he reached the corner to turn, he realized that the rest of the line was not there. He brought the line to a stop and waited for the rest. And waited. Finally, he saw two cars with funeral flags going straight through the intersection where he had turned. Then eventually, other cars found them and caught up. Proceeding to the cemetery, he had no idea what had happened. Until later. We found out that a car would not start. That blocked the other cars from going. And then family members got out to help start the car. The workers at the funeral home were frantically trying to get everyone back in their cars and get the line moving. That's when the two cars went the wrong way. Eventually they got everyone to leave the dead car and move along. This is why it's important to start those cars.

On yet another day, I was working a visitation in the evening. Everything was going smoothly. The family was enjoying seeing friends and family that had been away. It's always a good time to reconnect. As a lady walked in the door, I offered to take her coat. That's when she nervously said to me, "I'm not sure what to do". I assured her everything would be fine. And she proceeded to tell me that she was the illegitimate child of the man who died. She never knew him and the family didn't know that she existed.
After a deep breath, I offered to introduce her to her brother. I took them both in a private room and did the introduction. Not knowing where this was going to go, I held my breath. He reached out his arms and hugged her. He welcomed her to the family and walked to the main room where everyone was gathered. He asked for everyone's attention and announced "On this day that we reflect on my father's life, we also find out that we have a sister". There was more than one shocked face in the crowd. She assured everyone that she wanted nothing more than to see her father and his family. By the end of the night, they were laughing and sharing stories like old friends.

I hope that you've enjoyed this little peak into my life as a hearse driver. Throughout 2011 stop back often as I share with you more of the Brighter Side of the Grave.

Feel free to share with me what you would like to hear more about over the next year and the next 100 post.


Hesta Nesta said...

A lovely moving post. You have such an interesting and at times difficult job but it must give you a lot of satisfaction knowing that you are guiding a family through a terrible time. I used to be a nurse and miss caring for people in times of need.
Jo xx

Jabacue said...

Look forward to all of your posts, Stew. Can't imagine me doing what you do....I'd be a mess! Looking forward to the next 100! Good job.

AJ-OAKS said...

You have a most amazing job. There aren't many people who are capable of doing what you do. Your heart is so full of gentleness, caring and respect. Wish there were more people that had a heart like yours.
The illegitmate sister made me cry.
Looking forward to all your posts.

Stew said...

I feel that the moment you adopt a sense of caring for others, it brings you inner strength.

- Dalai Lama