Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last year

Day fourteen on my list for this thirty day blog challenge ask for me to post a photo of me from last year. This would take us back to when I started this blog about living. This first picture is from the trip that we took our parents on, in March of 2010. Last years cruise

Who could know that when we took them on this trip of a lifetime then, that it would be their last. But it just goes to show that you need to enjoy life while you can because there are no guarantees for tomorrow. They all three still talk about what a wonderful time that they had. Anyone looking to follow my lead on this one, just be warned that it was not all that glamorous for me, being the one that had to do all the work to make sure that everyone was having a good time. It was however, one of the most rewarding things that I've ever done and I'll never regret any of the effort that went into it.

After returning home to spring in Michigan and having been away from my Pugsley for a week, I decided then that he would always come first in my life because he relies on me for everything. Him and I spent many days wandering the woods in the local parks and even camping and hiking for a week. Of course we let my husband come along too. Someone had to take pictures.
Over the past year, I've really come to appreciate life. Every single minute of it. Watching my parents age and grow to be dependant on others and witnessing the never-ending love that my dog Pugsley gives me has been some of the biggest lessons in life. I've grown to love and accept all the people around me much more. We are all different. We each deserve the opportunity to express ourselves however we want to. And to not be ridiculed for doing so.

This has been a year of learning for me.

What happened over the last year that has helped you to grow?


Friday, April 29, 2011

Goals for the future

And we're back! The 30 day blog challenge returns. Picking up at lucky number 13, where I left off last week. Sorry for the interruption but life calls sometimes and you just have to go.

So day 13 ask me to write about my goals. I've given this one a lot of thought. I am the type of guy that goes with the flow for the most part. I've found that if I put too much effort into trying to make things a certain way, I just end up frustrated and disappointed. If I were to answer this question as a younger man, I would write about my goals for a career ,family or maybe a kewl car. Well, I love the family that I have made and as for a career, I've got my choices if it becomes necessary. As for a kewl car, I've already owned my dream car ( a 1991 Mercury Capri, two seat convertible). 
I've had all the toys; a vacation home, jet ski, boat,
fabulous vacations with great friends. So I'm over all of that. I'm to the point now that I just want to hang around the house with my dog, take the occasional vacation and enjoy life.

To answer this question today, I'd have to say that my biggest goal is help those around me to become comfortable with their own lives. I see so many friends and co-workers struggling every day to make things happen the way they think it should be. I'd really like for everyone to see that life is exactly the way it is supposed to be. And that everything will be alright tomorrow. I'm not going to stress about the future or try to make it into something that it shouldn't be. I'll just enjoy and share it with my friends.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Naken Fireman

You just had to look, didn't you.

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, Show life a thousand reasons to smile.

And if you are looking for a few reasons to smile, here are just a few.

* You are Loved.
     Even if you don't know it. There are people that love you.

* Smiles make new friends.
     Sometimes all it takes is to smile at someone and give a pleasant "hello"

* A smile looks good on you.
     Everyone looks better with a smile on their face.

* It's good for you.
     A smile can reduce stress, lower your blood preasure,
     Release endorphins and boost your immune system.

* Smiles are contagious.

Give them freely. Afterall, they're free.


Monday, April 25, 2011

The last time

If suddenly you found yourself in a situation that changed your life drastically, like a terminal diagnosis or an accident. Could you be happy with how you've lived your life?

If you knew it was the last time that you would do something that you've done each day, like pet an animal or drive a car. Would you have stopped to enjoy it a little more?

We go through our lives in such a hurry that we forget to appreciate the simple things. Even a snowfall seems to annoy us, knowing that we will have to clear it from the walk or the car. Perhaps we should enjoy it for the beauty that it brings or even the exercise that we get.

There is always a brighter side. Always.

I work in a business where there is a lot of sadness and regret. Yet I try every day to find that brighter side. To find pleasure in the simplest things in life. I try to enjoy everything that I do.

Here's a story that I had kept to myself for years. When I was eighteen, I was working one night at my part time job and remember my friend calling me at work wanting to talk. We were not allowed personal phone calls, so I told him I would stop by after work. When I did, his dad told me that he had gone out and he didn't know where. I left thinking that I would catch up with him in the morning. It turns out That was the last time I ever talked to him. That night is the night that he killed himself. I did not attend the funeral because I felt responsible for not answering his call for help. It was something that I struggled with for years. I now know that it was not my fault and I believe that going through this myself, has helped me with my line of work.

To this day, when I have to do a funeral for a person that has killed themselves, it is very rough on me and can bring up many old emotions. I feel badly for the loss of life as well as sympathize with those that are left to deal with the aftermath.

A while back, I did a funeral for a seventeen year old boy that had killed himself. He was a very popular football star and overall well liked in school. People think that it is "the losers" that do such things. This kid was no loser by far. The day of the funeral almost no one went to school. The church was packed with people left standing outside. We had cars lined up in the parking lot for the procession as well as the baseball field across the road. There were so many people crossing the road (a Michigan highway) that the state police closed the road. There was over 300 cars in the procession and the police went on ahead closing the roads as we traveled to the cemetery. Everyone involved will never forget it.

Knowing what everyone was feeling made it the most difficult service that I've ever done. There was one point at the cemetery that my emotions were so strong that I could hardly breath and I had to stand behind the hearse because the sight of the crying teens would bring up all of my old feelings. I still stop by his grave from time to time remembering everything.

In my line of work, you never know who you will affect with what you do. Years after that service, I met a new friend. When he started to tell me about the loss of his friend a few years ago, I knew exactly who he was speaking of. It's given him a little peace knowing that I was involved in the care of his friend. With my help, he's even been able to visit his friends grave for the first time. He's also been able to share some stories and insight of the events that led up to the incident that took that young life. While I can't discuss the details, I can say that it was a classic tale of parents not paying attention to what was happening with their children.

What I have taken away from all of this is;

* Don't assume anything about anyone
* Don't be afraid to ask questions of my loved ones
* Be understanding that not everyone thinks the same as me
* Take the time to enjoy being with my friends and family
* Treat each day like it's the last

I hope that everyone had a great Easter weekend. As you can tell by the photos, it's finally spring here in Southeast Michigan. I'll be back soon with more of the 30 day blog challenge.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

A message for YOU

The strangest thing happened to me today.

I was walking home and I found a small, crumpled up note on the side of the road. I opened it up, and it was addressed to you. To you!

Here’s what it said:

It happened in the past. And it happened once. But in your memory, you’re letting it happen over and over again, each and every day. You can’t change that it happened, but you can change that it continues to happen to you.

It’s time to let it go, and no longer haunt yourself with shame, remorse and guilt.

And the truth is, it happened for a reason. Though it may be hard to understand that reason from where you sit in time and space, my vantage point allows for a clearer perspective. Learn the lesson being offered, and allow yourself the freedom to move forward with these simple but powerful words: “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I thank you.”


A friend

I don’t really know what it means. But since it was addressed to you, I think it may hold some meaning for you. Any ideas?

I'm taking a couple of days off from the 30 day blog challenge to let go of a few things myself.  I hope that everyone has a great Easter and that you are surrounded by friends, family and anyone else that you happen to love.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sign of the crucifix

Today is Earth Day 2011. Let's all see what little bit more we can do to be a little more friendly to our environment. Because the truth is, the earth will be just fine. It's us that needs the help.

On this twelfth day of blogging, my topic is "something you don't leave the house without". Around here, it seems that we are always rushing off to somewhere. And the real trick is to know "where". Most people go off to work in the same direction each day. You follow the same roads so much that you don't even remember driving it sometimes. But somehow, you always end up at work. You'd swear that the car drives itself. Because we are freelance funeral assistants, we could be working at a number of different places. Sometimes even if we know who we are working for, we still don't know which location we are to be going to. Often I will call back to the house and ask, "where am I going?"

Getting dressed is pretty easy. Black pants, white shirt, tie, black coat, shoes. But since we both work other jobs and we try our best to lead somewhat of a life, we are always changing jackets. It's the simple things like my wallet, keys and the all important phone that keep me on my toes trying to keep track of them and keep them with me. So each and every time we leave, we look like (and even joke about it) we are doing the sign of the cross. Making sure I have my glasses, keys, wallet, and phone. Or as my sweet husband says, spectacles, testicle, wallet and watch.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Justin wrote yesterday that he wouldn't be able to do something like this 30 day blog challenge because he didn't think he could follow up on it everyday. I'd have to say that I'd agree with you on that buddy. It has been difficult as I do have a life going on as well. He goes on to say that no one would care also. To that, I don't know. Some of the topics, yeah, I can see them as redundant. What it is doing for me is keeping my mind working on something different all the time and you just never know what is going to spark someones interest. What is mundane to me, might be fascinating to someone else.

Day eleven's topic is about my favorite television shows. This one is a bit of a flat line for me because I only watch tv when I have nothing else to do. And I think that we all know by now that Stew rarely has nothing else to do. I will admit that "The Amazing Race" and "Survivor" rank pretty high on my list. About those, I wish they'd stop bringing back old players. Give someone new a chance. But other than that, I will fall back on almost any HGTV or DIY channel show. As a designer myself, I am constantly seeing what they are doing and thinking how I can improve it or what I might have done differently. Occasionally I'll get a good idea or two from them though. My own home is in a constant state of change and remodeling. I am starting to think that I should pick up a side job soon or I'll go broke from my own home improvements. I need my fix you know.

Just a short one today. I am off work now and off to the nursing home to visit Mom. Thanks for playing along with me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day ten

On this day, I'm to tell you about something that I'm afraid of. And while there are many things that I find creepy like spiders and scorpions and such, I really don't see me as afraid of them. I just don't like them is all. Although snakes would probably be something that would make the list come to think of it. Fortunately, here in Michigan, we don't have many of them and what we do have are pretty non-threatening.

If I were to be honest, and I've been doing that for everything else, I'd have to say that the thing I fear most is failure. Not so much failing myself, but others. I am a man of my word and when I say I'm going to do something, I will do my best to do it. As I've grown wiser to how this world works, I've learned a valuable lesson. I've learned to say "No". Whenever someone ask me to do something, I'd ( in an attempt to please them) always say yes. Well, I just can't do everything. With me working midnights at one job and mornings at the other, I'll occasionally come across an evening thing that just has to be turned down. I think there have been two or three days when I tried to do the 48 hour straight thing. And while I think I'm pretty special, I know that I'm no superhero and I need rest. So sometimes, I just have to say No. In a way, by saying that, I feel that I am failing someone. But if I don't, I'll fail everyone.

I'm learning to face that fear and it feels good. I hope that I am encouraging others to help themselves and not to rely on me for everything. I know that in the end, we'll all be better off and no one will have failed at all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Best friends

Things have been slow in the burial business the last couple of weeks which has given me more time to spend with my ailing mother. And this 30 day blog challenge has helped me keep my mind off from my ailing mother when I need to. We had a couple of days that warmed up quite necely. But it's taken a turn back toward winter again here. This picture was taken on Saturday as we were working on cleaning up the yard from the long winter.
It was windy and a bit on the cool side but we got all the work done that needed it. Sunday night, they were talking about that four letter "s" word in the forcast all night. At about 3am I still had not seen any of the offensive white stuff. So I pulled out my phone and checked the weather again. It read, "partly cloudy all day". At 6am, the sun was starting to rise and still no sign of snow. I went home and let Pugsley outside for his morning romp around the yard. Suddenly there was a scratch at the door. I went to see what he wanted and he stood there on the porch covered in snow. By the time it was done, there was two inches of "partly cloudy" all over everything. Since the temperature was in the mid thirties, most of it was gone by 5pm. I guess Old Man Winter isn't done with us yet.

So today is day nine of this 30 day blog challenge. Following the directions given, I'm to show a favorite picture of my best friend. I have nothing but the best friends a guy could want so the choice was a difficult one and all of you just about ended up with your faces on the Internet forever. I really do love and appreciate each and every one of my close friends. I decided however not to cop out and do that. I would have to say that even though life has dragged him away from me (to Texas!) that Jonathan has been my longest running, closest friend that I've ever had. If anything, the distance between us, has made us closer. You've already read how he helped me to find my way when I was still discovering who I was. And yes, he is the topic of Day three; my first love. He and I have been through more than any two friends should ever have to and we've lived to tell about it. I will always love him and I am hoping that he comes home for his sister's wedding this summer so we can spend some quality time together. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you..... Jonathan.
I love your hair in this shot Jon

Monday, April 18, 2011

Travel Logg

Day eight; A place that you've traveled to:

We all dream. We sit and say things like, "Someday, I'd like to go to Paris or see the pyramids". I used to say that I'd love to see Australia. Then we get caught up in our daily lives and "someday" seems to get pushed further and further away. Our careers seem to take over our lives. We find ourselves saying things like,"I couldn't leave my job long enough to do that".

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House
The truth is, you can. This world rotated around the sun just fine before you graced it's surface and will continue to do so long after you're gone.

One day, in early 1997, I was showering and thinking. I do my best thinking in the shower. And I thought, "What am I waiting for?" When I got to work that morning, that thought kept going through my head over and over again. So, on my lunch break, I went to the travel agency that was located in my building and told them to find me an Australian adventure that I would never forget. The next day, she called me back to her office and laid out my options.

I ended up taking a month off work for a little walk-a-bout downunder. I first flew to Los Angeles to visit with my sister whom was working at UCLA at the time for a couple of days. Then it was a 13-1/2 hour flight to Sydney where I spent a week roaming around the metropolis that it is. I landed around midnight Sydney time and to circle the city seeing the harbor bridge, opera house and centerpoint tower all lit up was surreal. I took one tour to get my barrings about me then lost myself in the city.  Let me tell you that one week was not enough. Darling Harbor was very kewl and I even found myself lost in Kings Cross one afternoon well into the night.
From there I boarded a train to Melbourne. On the train, I met a woman that was traveling home from Sydney to Melbourne. Although she was in her 50's, this was the first time she had been outside of Melbourne and she was very excited to have met an American along the way. We talked for 5 hours on that train before parting ways. I spent 5 days in that beautiful city. It was more laid back than Sydney. Every street seemed like a garden. I loved the trams everywhere and there was a buzz in the city with the Australian Open Tennis Tournament going on across the Yarra River from my hotel.
Train Station, Melbourne
After that, I got on a plane that I thought was headed for the outback. I had no idea that there was a layover in Adelaid. As I got on the plane at 8am, I was seated next to two young men that had just flown in from Thailand overnight. They had been drinking all night and were on their way home from a long vacation. I could have let their drunkenness bother me but I chose to embrace it and figured that I too was on vacation( or holiday as they referred to it) and had a couple of drinks with them. When we reached Adelaid, they wanted me to get off the plane with them. After a little hesitation, I said OK! We spent the better part of the afternoon together before they dropped me back off at the airport for the remainder of my rescheduled flight. It was a choice that I have been proud of since I did it. Those guys were amazing and I'm glad that I met them and spent the time with them.
At my hotel in Alice Springs, they were starting to worry about me because of my late arrival. So I let them know that I got a little distracted. 
I spent a couple of days in Alice Springs relaxing by the pool with a swim up bar. I was fortunate enough to be there the one night a year that it rains. And rain it did. We're talking about 30 centimeters or about a foot of water fell out of the sky that night. I had to move from my dinner table by the pool to an indoor table. What was a dry river bed the day before when I awoke the next morning was a raging river. Funny thing was is that it wasn't humid at all. It was nice that the flies stopped trying to go into my mouth and eyes though. I was able to go to a Corroboree with some  aboriginal people and experience some "delicacies" in the form of a witchetty grub that we dug out of a tree root and ate. Hey, I didn't go all that way to not experience everything. 

Stew @ Uluru
From there I went to Uluru or as Americans call it Ayers Rock. What an amazing landscape everywhere you look. So different than the green that we see in the Midwest of the United States.

And for my last leg of the trip, I went North to the tropics. A little town called Cairns on the North/East coast. From there I experienced the rain forest around the Daintree River and took an excursion with Quicksilver Cruises to the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Again, it rained while I was out there and pictures didn't turn out so well. But the colors of the reef were absolutely amazing as I dove down and swam with the fishes.
Bond Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, AU
Along the way in my travels, I learned that it is a big world that exist outside of our everyday life. There are many fascinating people and places out there. I did this trip alone causing me to be a little more adventurous as to who I talked to along the way. It was an amazing time in my life and I found someone I never expected to find on the other side of the planet.
 I found myself. And I realized that I kinda like me.

Some day I'd like to take Eddy there. Or anywhere that he'd like to go really. Where have you been or would like to go that you've always fantasized about?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No regrets

Here we are a week into this challenge. And I must say that it is quite a challenge. Already I am feeling like I have bared my soul. Day seven calls for me to reveal my favorite quote. I can think of many that rank pretty high. But this one is the one that comes to mind first and foremost.
It's actually a song title from a 1961 Edith Piaf album.

"Non, je ne regrette rien "

When translated from French to English, it reads
"No, I only regret nothing".
 This quote and this song reminds me daily that we should always live our lives with no regrets. That we should be proud of the decisions we make, the things we say and the things we do. If we can not say that we are proud of something, we should be able to learn from it and be proud of the learning process. No regrets.

To enjoy the song, click the link

What quote inspires you?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happiness in a glance

I read an article that said that you should never blog about your dog. That regardless of your love for your dog, no one else cares. I know a few people that would disagree with that statement. And then I ran across day six. I need to show a picture of something that makes me happy.  This picture was taken on my old phone with lousy resolution. When I got a new phone, I had the pictures transferred to it and immediately set this photo as my wallpaper. Now, whenever I check the time or take out the phone for any reason at all (sometimes just to see the picture) I see my little Pugzy Bear.

Pugsley is a mixed breed. Half Chow Chow and half Pekingese. His mother was the Chow and his father was the Pekingese with a step ladder. He has the temperment of both. His loyalty and love is neverending for me and me alone. He puts up with my husband and friends. He guards the house with a bark that would scare anyone but is great in public until someone tries to touch him. And really, being so cute and fluffy, everyone wants to pet him.

There he is, Pugsley Adams. And the picture that makes me happy everytime I see it.

Now, a question for you. And yes, I do care. What makes you happy?

Friday, April 15, 2011

A song in my heart

Each day, like many of you do, I receive "Notes form the Universe". Yesterday's note reminds us that each day is special by asking the question;
 "Can you think of anything more valuable than just another day?"
How could anyone answer anything except a resounding NO.
Day five brings me to; A song to match my mood.
This was a tough one. Often any dance tune will get me going or even the sounds of a classical piano.
If you put on some ABBA, I am a dancing queen.
I choose this song because it not only shows my mood, but it demonstrates my way of life.
It's by two of my favorite singers, Jason & deMarco.
They are a real life gay couple showing that there can be a coalition of being gay and a person of faith in God.
They travel the country performing at gay pride festivals and churches everywhere.
The charity work that they do with young adults is nothing short of amazing. I've been to many of their concerts and supported them through different means over the years.
In return, they remind me to always "Be the Light"...

I take this philosophy with me every ordinary day.

And that's my song.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where I come from

Today I am paying my respects to the two people that came together to make my life possible. They have both been on my mind a lot lately considering their failing health. My parents couldn't be more different. He's a city boy from Little Rock, Arkansas and she's a country girl from Northern Lower Michigan.

Their stories come together when Ralph, a recently divorced, father of one moved to Michigan to be with his also recently divorced mother. He was a 29 year old veteran of World War 2. For a little entertainment in his new town, he and some friends went to a barn dance. That's when he saw her. The stunningly beautiful 19 year old girl, Maxine that had come to the dance with her mother. He asked her to dance and the sparks flew. Three short months later, they were married.
Starting his life over again, he decided to leave everything that they both knew behind and take his wife off to the new Chiropractic College in Davenport , Iowa. It was a new concept in health care and he really believed in what they were teaching. Between having children, she also attended the college. Upon graduation, as a team they rented an old house in Leesville, Louisiana and started the first Chiropractic office in that town. It didn't do very well as you might imagine and they heard of an existing practice for sale down further South in Houma. So they packed up their ever increasing family and moved again. It was now the 1960's and Chiropractic was still trying to take off. When the business didn't make it, they packed up and moved back to Michigan where he went to work for Ford Motor Company. She started her own accounting firm out of the house. They continued more informally with patients in Michigan but never opened an official practice again.
Together they had and raised seven children while his ex-wife raised his first son. The family was reunited many years later but we have now lost my half brother to a heart attack last year. It was definitely hard on my father, losing his first born son. It's something that no parent should ever go through, no matter what age they are.
They have now been together for 58 years. I'll always admire both of them for believing in something and following their passion for it, even when the rest of the world didn't see what they saw. They did what they needed to do to raise all those children and I think they did a pretty good job.
I may not have had the perfect childhood, but I place no blame on anyone. If they had not gone through everything they did, I would be a completely different person now. And I'd have to say that I am quite happy with who I am and where I come from.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My first love

Here it is, day three. The challenge calls for me to reveal my first love. This would normally be a chance for me to stray from the idea of the challenge and talk about my love of design or travel. I'm not going to do that to you though. I know that it would be more appropriate for me to be honest here and write about my torment.

Growing up in the Pentecostal Church, I was always trying to do what I was supposed to do. I loved my God, family and church. I wanted with all my heart to be normal. I wanted to want the same things as my friends. The torment came from the fact that all of it was very forced. I never gave a thought to the fact that I might be gay. I thought maybe it just hadn't happened for me yet. Even as I progressed through high school and into college, I was still waiting to find that girl that fit me. Looking for that girl that I wanted to be with. I was realistic in the fact that I wasn't looking for the perfect 10 or anything like that. I only wanted a nice girl  I could be with and spend my life with. My religion even kept me from any kind of sexual encounters. And any dates I went on, I used my religion as a reason for not going there.

It got to the point that instead of dating, I dived into my career. By not being coupled, I was able to travel at will or move from town to town without any worries of disrupting family dynamics of children's school and work for my spouse. My company loved the fact that they could call on me to go anywhere and I'd be there without hesitation. And I thought that I loved it too. Honestly, I think I did.

But then it happened. I met a young man that found himself needing a place to live. Having had many roommates in the past and an extra room in my new house, I took him in. It didn't happen right away but more and more over time, we became inseparable. We both continued to date girls, but I found that my desire to spend time with him was stronger than anything else in my life. I started calling him  about everything that happened and couldn't wait to get home.  My company sold and started to make cutbacks. I ended up losing my job and working two part time jobs, making half the money that I used to. By not having the job that I had put so much into, I felt lost and started to realize what was really going on in my head. So one night, I came out to him. His response was very positive. He even encouraged me to go online and see who else might be in my kind of situation. I instantly found the man who would become my husband.

My roommate has since gone on to marry a very nice woman that he seems to fit very well with. And I have married the man of my dreams. But I will always remember my best friend and x-roommate as my first love.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The meaning of the title

Thanks for the support as I start this little endevour. To answer a question from yesterday, yes I answer to Stew. But obviously that is not my first name. And since I don't know y'alls middle names, my first shall stay where it is, on a dusty old shelf in the closet hidden away on the pages of my passport.

Day two of the thirty day blog challenge ask of me to give the meaning behind my blog name.

When you work in a business such as mine, people often think of all the bad stuff. They always ask about things like "Do I embalm the bodies?" or "How do you deal with all the sadness?"

My goal is to clear up a few facts. People often see us as "dark". We dress in black and often come in the night. But we are people like everyone else. And we enjoy life, like everyone else. We are here to help people get through the hardest part of life....... death. As it stands, there is a 100% mortality rate amongst people on earth. While that's not a fact that anyone wants to hear, it is true. But we are here for the survivors. The people that are still alive. While one life has come to an end, we are all still here and we must go on. In my own way, I try to lighten the atmosphere a little. I try to brighten their day while they are still on this side of the grave. A brighter side, of the grave.

I love to hear the stories of people's lives. From the minute we are born our personal story begins. It doesn't have to end the minute that you die though. The lives that we touch along the way, no matter how long or short the life is, are a continuation of our own story. There are millions of stories to be shared. None are ever the same. Each and every life is a wonderful thing and I hope to hear and share as many of those stories as I can.
Even after death there are often odd or funny things that happen on our way to the cemetery. It's those things too, that brighten my day and add to my story. And I love to share the stories with you.

So there you have it. A brighter side of the grave isn't about death at all. It's about life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thirty day blog challenge

Many people have done this already.  Some of the items that it calls for will be difficult for me simply because I can be so guarded about some things. So in an effort to become more comfortable with myself and to open up a little, I've decided to do the 30 day blog challenge myself. Even on the first day, I am finding it a little difficult. But I am promising you and myself that I will stick to the entire thing and not change it to fit me better as I've seen a couple of other people do. I will still try to incorporate the usual goings-on though.
So today calls for 15 interesting facts about myself.

1. I was part of the first and largest one hour film business for 12 years.
2. I have a degree in commercial art as well as interior design.
3. I ran my families limousine business for years.
4. I owned and operated a pizza store with a Southwest theme in the Midwest.
5. I have been married to a great man for 6 years in June, and we've been together for 11 years.
6. I was raised in the United Pentecostal Church.
7. I no longer subscribe to any religion but respect them all.
8. I believe in Nowism and Deism.
9. My first pet was a Dutch dwarf rabbit named Dash. He died two years ago at 8 years old.
10. I would throw myself in front of a car for my dog Pugsley.
11. My father was a chiropractor before it was kewl.
12. I come from a family of 8 children. Four boys and four girls. I'm number 6.
13. I do not and never have answered to my first name.
14. I love the outdoors but can't stand getting dirty.
15. I'm obsessed with iced tea and have been since I was 2 years old.

There are many more interesting facts. But, I have tried to cover a wide range here. Hopefully doing this challenge will open up my heart a little more to sharing those facts.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

spring is springing

Last years daffodils
While the rest of the northern hemisphere has experienced some signs of spring, that has not been the case here in southwest Michigan. Our high temps have reached only a high of 50 f. or so. Needless to say, when the weather report said that we would have 75* today, we all got a little excited. So far at 5pm we have reached a year long high of 81*! (27c) The jackets were hung by the door with care, knowing that we will need them tomorrow. And even though I have to work tonight, I am never one to waste an opportunity. A little sunshine does a body good you know. Unfortunately Pugsley doesn't agree with me that it is so beautiful outside. He's only just begun to loose his winter coat. Therefore, he'd like to lay in the shade for a while. Hopefully with the warmth, we'll have some of those flowers that our yard is known for, start to pop up.

Mom is stable in the nursing home. She hasn't improved much but she hasn't gotten worse either. The nice part is that they have her eating. But her energy level is still almost a big zero. While visiting her today, I was able to get her in the wheelchair and took her outside for a little fresh air and sunshine. My sister brought my Dad by for a little while and I gave them some space to sit and chat. It's funny how the bickering stops when someone gets sick. It was so nice to see them sitting holding hands and talking quietly.

Watch in the morning for a new direction for this blog to go....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

A heavenly surprise

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.
'And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said,
'They’re all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cars in a row

Usually the not so interesting part of my job as a hearse driver is standing in the weather, good or bad, directing people where to park. Sorting them out for if they are driving in procession to the cemetery or if they are just there for the service. One of the hardest things to do is get the lines of cars started. We are dealing with parking lots that have your typical yellow lines painted on the pavement in a grid fashion for your everyday parking situations. To simplify the procession, and keep cars close together so as to eliminate confusion on the roads, we line up the cars as they arrive. It will take several lines usually. We'll start by putting immediate family behind the hearse. The next row will have other family and the next will be friends. Now, I feel that friends should probably go before family as those are the people that we've chosen to have in our lives rather than the ones that we are stuck with. But that's another story. My biggest problem for the most part is when car #2 shows up after car #3, #4, and #5. My feelings are that if you want to be one of the first cars then you better get there first. People tend to think that they have reserved parking or something and show up late. They forget about the logistics of the situation or don't understand that we are lining up.

Other times we'll have people that insist on parking close to the door because they have a handicap permit. Well, we kind of reserve the spot by the door for the guest of honor. You can't get much more handicapped than dead. So you'll have to park where I direct you to.  Often when we are getting started, we'll have people that think they are parking out of the way and it ends up that they are right smack in the middle of where you need to put a line of 10 cars. And they are facing  sideways of the line. I try to understand that they don't see in their heads what it will look like when I have 200 people here and there's no room for anymore cars. But all I ask is that they listen to what I tell them. If I tell them to park behind the silver Saturn, then don't park behind the red Cadillac! Is that too much?

So the other day, I had a full parking lot. It was about 3 minutes before the service was to start and two cars pulled into the lot. I had them both circle around so they were coming up to the back of the lines at a better angle. I directed the older lady to park behind a minivan. When I was confident that she understood where to go, I turned to help the younger lady. As I was directing her to her space, I heard a crunch behind me! I turned slowly to see that the older lady had hit the back of the minivan. I quickly inspected the situation as she backed up some. I informed her not to worry. That no damage had been done to either vehicle. She said to me, "Oh! Thank God!" I then told her she was fine where she was and started to walk away. That's when I heard a second crunch. My eyes closed as I turned to look again. I didn't want to see what I knew I was going to see. When I opened my eyes, sure enough, she had hit the minivan again. This time, she left some damage. She then left the two cars "kissing", put hers in park and got out to go inside for the service. As the younger lady got out of her car, she asked me, "Did she just hit that van twice?" What could I say but, "She didn't do it right the first time".  In the end, after the service, they knew each other and apologies were said and no one was upset. I was just nervous every time I had to slow the procession down that she would run into the van again. I'll never know what she was thinking.

Everyone thinks that part of the job is the worst. A lot of standing in whatever weather we may be having, trying to look good and cope with scorching heat, freezing rain or anything else. But I find it very entertaining. I feel that when people arrive for the service, I am the first person that they see. I set the stage for the rest of the day. I could be solemn or I could smile and say good morning. They are dealing with the death of someone that they loved. I feel that they deserve a smile, no matter the weather. I do my best to have straight easy to follow lines of cars. But, it is what it is. And if grandma runs her car into yours, sorry about that. I just want everyone to get to the cemetery all right and be able to say good bye and have good memories of that day, not bad ones. 

And that is a little peek into the life of  a hearse driver. Just remember.... If I don't see you in the near future, I'll see you in the far pasture.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Friday, we welcomed a distraction from sitting in the nursing home, feeding and caring for my mother. My sister is the booking agent for the area theatre and gets us tickets to various shows. Momix is a company of dancer/illusionist under the direction of Moses Pendleton. They do stage performances as well as film and television appearances. They've performed at the Golden Globe Awards and on PBS shows as well as Target commercials. The show Botanica follows a poem that traverses the four seasons.  A very creative mind put it all together and some amazingly talented dancers performed the likes I've never witnessed before. If you ever get the chance to see their show, I'd recommend it.

After the show, we decided to visit another of my sisters at her new place of work. She has just started as the head cook at a very popular club in the heart of our little town. Unfortunately, we missed her and dinner by about ten minutes. The club only serves food until 10pm. But we enjoyed a drink and then went to find some eats.

All in all, it was a nice night. After over a week of non-stop mom-sitting, it was nice to get out and do something. Mom's condition hasn't changed at all. She is not eating much and has no energy to even stay awake for very long. We have moved her from the hospital to a nursing facility where she can be better cared for. I still stay by her side so she knows that we haven't forgotten her and that we love her. I've just finished work for the day and since there is no funeral scheduled for today, I'm heading over there now to help her with her breakfast. Maybe today I'll be able to get her to eat.