Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Steaming out the Wrinkles

I don't consider standing in the near 100 degree heat to be sweltering in the sun. In my mind, I am simply steaming the wrinkles out of my suit.

As I'm sure you can tell by my absence, it has been quite busy around here. The business is doing well and I am now in my last week of working at the store. With my father needing more care and my sister still recovering from her aneurysm, my duties at home have increased. I am also working more visitations at one of the funeral homes that uses our services often. I've had a request from yet another funeral director to add to my fleet, with the promise of increased calls if I am able to supply her with a black hearse instead of navy blue. Now, the lease is up on the blue one in the spring. But since two of my main customers want the blue and they pay me for the fact that their funeral homes stand out from the others, I think I'll stick with blue for my main vehicle, when it comes to getting a new one. And as for adding another, I am not sold on if there is enough calls for having a second hearse sitting in the garage just yet. That doesn't mean that I've ruled it out yet though. We'll see what the numbers look like.

I wish I could share with you all the stories from the funerals that I do. Instead we are limited to some of the highlights of the things that happen.  Last week, we took a trip back in time, that perhaps should never have been taken. In the days of old, a funeral director would embalm the body and prepare it for viewing at the person's home. As the funerals became a more scheduled thing and the viewing time shortened, more people would show up all at once. In a small home, it could easily get overcrowded fast. For our little trip into the past, a family had requested that the visitation the night before and the funeral service itself be held at the woman's home of 46 years. She loved her small home and friends and family loved to visit her there. I don't know if people realize how big a casket is. Throw in a few flowers and the living room is half gone.

We set up chairs for the service in the living room, the adjoining dining room , in the family room around the corner and then we took out the front window and set up chairs on the front steps and lawn. The neighbors had no idea what was going on until it was already happening. And the poor people next door that share a driveway with these folks had just moved in three months ago and had never even met the elderly lady. There were cars everywhere! Because of the tight corner in the foyer area, we had to take the casket out through the garage door, where we had to take the door off the hinges to get it through. As we were passing it through, one of the key pallbearers was missing. He decided to go and use the lavatory before heading out to the cemetery. When he came out, he tried to use the same door as us, where the casket was being held by two of us (one on each end) waiting for his return. I had to object when he wanted to climb over. Instead we sent him around to use the front door. The garage itself was packed with all their furniture that they had taken out so we could set up chairs for the service, as well as all the usual garage clutter. So as we traversed the cluttered garage, there was a limited number of us carrying the casket until we got to a place where more could squeeze in.

Lesson learned: Don't do funerals at home, unless it's a huge house.

As I mentioned, it's been hot. I find myself seeking refuse in the shade of a telephone pole if need be. Just to get a little relief from the blazing sun. I do love the sun and the heat that comes with it. But I believe you should dress appropriately for the weather. I think if I can put a coat on over my suit in the winter, I should be able to throw a pair of shorts and a tank top on in the summer. I can still wear my tie if you'd like.
I'll leave you with that image and I promise, I'll be back soon.


MorningAJ said...

Interesting image of you in shorts and a tank top..... :)

Welcome back Stew. I've missed you.

betty said...

I cannot imagine what the neighbors thought of it all with the funeral at home. I can see a memorial service without the casket, but not the "whole deal". It does sound like quite an "adventure" to have pulled it off. Good to hear from you; it does sound like a busy time, glad work going well and business is picking up. Do stay hydrated in the heat.


Ms Sparrow said...

In 1952, my grandfather's "visitation" was in the living room of their home. I was 12 and quite startled to see him there in his casket when we arrived. I'm glad that it's a custom that has been eliminated from the often-overblown rituals of mourning. I'm betting you would be too!

John Going Gently said...

there's nothing wrong with TANK TOPS!
I used to wear one with a bow tie!

Jim said...

Funerals are such personal affairs and I can see that some requests must be very strange and questionable.

Unknown said...

We try to please everyone. Sometimes, they just don't know what they are asking for until they get it.

Unknown said...

I think I've seen that photo floating around the internet, John

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

OH! the HEAT! weird, but i think you might have it even hotter up there than we have it right now in florida!

so if they had this service at home...casket in the house...does this mean the burial was done in their backyard? (just kidding)

happy saturday!

fromsophiesview said...

Images of climbing over the casket and slipping or falling flip through my head....I`m always amazed and amused at your tenacity!

Unknown said...

It certainly had the opportunity to go left on us real quick.