Sunday, January 30, 2011

The sun has broken through here in Michigan today. Although the temp is still below freezing, the sun sure feels good. Went for a long walk in the woods and enjoyed all that winter has to offer. Those forsythia's are just waiting for spring. The buds form in the fall and wait patiently for warmer weather to come. And so do we.

I wish you the brighter side

Daily, I observe the people around me. I don't know their storties or what's going on in their minds. I watch them as they rush through my life and back out and wonder. I wonder if they are enjoying their lives or are they just rushing through? What are they rushing to?

Life is to be enjoyed. Every last bit of it.

If you were diagnost with a terminal illness or involved in an accident that left you helpless, could you be happy with the life that you've led?

If you knew that it was last time that you would pet a dog, smell a rose, fly a kite, drive a car or make love, would you stop to enjoy it a little more?

We rush through our lives in such a hurry that we forget to appreciate the little things. We don't say hello to a stranger that could have been a good friend, given the chance. A snowfall seems to upset us because we know that we'll have to shovel it and clear the car.

Perhaps we should stop and say hello and enjoy that snow for the beauty that it brings or the exersize that we'll get.

There is always a brighter side. Always. I work in a buisness where there is a lot of sadness. Yet I try everyday to find the brighter side. To find pleasure in the simplest things in life. To enjoy everything that I do.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how grey the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye.

I wish that you would take the time to enjoy the brighter side.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A tree, on guard.

A tree stand guard of our shoreline. Protecting us from
that impending Canadian invasion.
Let me apologize again for my absence. This time, it was not my fault. My Internet provider decided that they didn't want to provide me with Internet. So, I've made the move to something better. Sometimes we need a push to make a move. I always welcome change so I send out a big thank you to Comcast for having lousy service.

Today was one of those days when you just need a break. So after doing my chores, I headed for the beach. It's neer 30 degrees Fahrenheit out there (the warmest it's been in a long time and we're headed for the deep freeze for the next week or so) So it made for perfect beach weather. For January anyway. Our lakes here in Michigan remind many people of oceans because they are so large that you can't see the other side. But we don't have the surf that oceans do so they tend to freeze. There is a lot of motion out there though so the ice then cracks and breaks up.
 Once the ice starts to move, the current carries it to where the next river starts. These rivers join all the Great Lakes together. We happen to live near where Lake Huron ends and the St. Clair River begins. The ice tends to bottleneck at these narrow spots. This causes a dam effect. Since freighters are constantly traversing our waters, the ice cutters are up and down the river constantly all winter long to keep things moving.
Yeah Canada, We have a whole army of trees.
 The beach was quiet today. Just me and the trees enjoying the weather together. It really allows you to think. A mile inland, it was quite sunny. But Lake Huron tends to kick up some strange stuff and dump it on our good friends on the other side of the boarder. This always looks very dramatic from this side.
 Here's a spot of beach just a mile up from the park where a friend lives on the water. From here you can really see the way the weather works over the lake.
 A mile down the other way from the park is where the river starts. The Blue Water Bridges span the entrance of the river. Beyond to the North is the lake and to the South is the narrow river. This is a beautiful spot to sit and watch the freighters go by and disappear into the vast lake or to appear out of the fog to navigate the narrow stretch between the US and Canada. At night the bridges are lit up with blue lights creating an arch over our fair cities on both sides.
 Port Huron was the childhood home of Thomas Edison and the train station where he worked as a child remains nestled under the bridges.
So far they are doing a pretty good job of keeping the ice from damming up the river this year. And the smooth water always makes for a beautiful picture of the bridges.
When I got home, I heard quite a ruckus coming from the bushes next to the house. My husband feeds the little birds all year and thus we have quite the following of fowl. I found this bold hawk trying to rustle up some dinner. He wasn't afraid of me and I (foolishly) wasn't afraid of him either. I got in one good whack with the snow shovel before he headed off to a nearby tall tree. I'll have to be mindful of his presence when I let Pugsley out in the yard for a few days. This things was well over a foot tall and had a huge wingspan. It was while I was chasing it away that I realized that I was battling a wild animal and probably should let him do his thing. Oh well. So far everyone is still alive.

Thanks for reading my ramblings today. Keep warm.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Staying Positive

How do I stay positive?
By surrounding myself everyday with positive images and sounds. I simply choose to not accept any drama into my personal space. If someone else has an issue that they are dealing with, I can sympathize, but I don't make it my own.
Even in the funeral business, we must deal with the facts in front of us. But, what we must remember is that, the people that are still alive, must go on. We each have our own lives. We each have a legacy to leave.
As the poem goes, How will you spend your dash? (Between the dates on your headstone)
Every day "the score" is even. Every second, in fact.Everyone lives each day for him or herself, no matter what they did.
No one owes anything to anyone, no matter what happened.
And from this, what I hope you most get, is that whatever you do next, you do it for the joy it brings you.

And doing this, just watch how popular you become. Not that you will care.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A bit of History

I wanted to share with you what I found about a post that I did last fall " Be as Happy as you want ."
In that post, I told you of the lady that  had donated her land to the park system so that everyone could enjoy it. She had retained a small portion for her private use. After her death in 1980, the remainder of the land went to the park system. For safety reasons, the house was torn down as was the stables, kennels, garage and several other buildings that made up her farm. I was finally able to track down some photos of the original house. These were taken in 1980 just before the demolition occurred. The photos on the left were taken this fall, with no house behind us. It was kind of spooky, when I first saw the photos of the house and where it was. Knowing that I walked around trying to picture it and was so wrong in my assumptions.
All that remains now is the wall that encircled the lawn and the grand stone steps that led down to the tennis court. I can only imagine how wonderful it must have looked when it was being taken care of by the grounds keepers compared to now with the weeds growing out of the cracks.
 Beyond the tennis court is still a beautiful lane that goes out to where the road used to be. With tall hundred year old white pines lining both sides, you feel dwarfed standing there. It's so beautiful that more than one couple has chosen to have their wedding ceremony there amongst the pines.
The stone steps makes for a gorgeous place to take photos. Everyone looks better in a setting such as this.

The only way to get to this site now is by way of the hiking trails in the park. It's almost a mile back in there, but well worth the trip. I am looking forward to hiking out there in the winter to see all of this with the cover of snow.

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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years Fireworks

 It was an oddly warm night, this past New Years Eve. About 45 f. All the snow that has been lingering around for 3 weeks, seemed to disappear in an instant. We got some rain earlier in the day, which help to chase away the snow that was piled by the side of the roads. The town next to where we live has an annual fireworks display on New Years Eve. But we didn't make any big plans to attend or invite many friends because the weather man in Detroit said it would rain all night. Long about 8pm, we noticed that the rain clouds were missing us and decided to go out after all.

At first it didn't seem like there was going to be much of a turn out. Yeah, the bars were full and the local diners were open. But over all, not a lot going on in town. So we wandered around for a while enjoying the warm winter air. We found ourselves a spot under the clock tower in the center of town (just in case it did decide to rain) and waited and watched as the crowd started to filter in.

They had live entertainment on a stage that was set up in front of the courthouse. Our good friend that went with us, couldn't help himself from dancing in the street with a few teen age girls and the random drunk lady that had stumbled out of one of the bars.

As the clock above us counted down the remaining minutes of 2010, the streets began to fill with people of every age and background. The diner across from the courthouse had a line out the door. Each person waiting for their very own box of sliders and fries. A stand set up selling hot cocoa and coffee was a very popular place as well.  

Here we are gathered under the clock tower a few minutes before midnight. At this point, all the bars were empty and the streets were packed.

Then the music stopped pumping from the large speakers on the side of the stage and the crowd started the countdown of the last ten seconds before 2011. At the strike of midnight, the fireworks started. It was about a fifteen minute show that lit up the night sky above sleepy Mount Clemens, Michigan.
It was a great way to spend the first few minutes of the new year with my husband and good friend. After the party in the streets, we headed home to toast and welcome the new year. As I poured myself a nice glass of wine, I heard the rain start to hit the windows in the sun room. What perfect timing.