Saturday, August 11, 2012

Island Time

It's a little slower here.

I only have the one photo for you today of the casket spray.
Ordinarily, if I'm doing a post about a particular event, I'll try to get more.
In fact, I did get video.
I was having a great time gathering video footage of the day's events.
But for some reason, my computer won't allow the sound to go with the video.
And since I was talking on the video explaining what was going on, I decided to nix the video and do some old fashioned writing.

It's been crazy busy here the last two weeks. Since I left my retail job, I have not had a day off work.
It's my goal to spend some time each day "downloading" my stories.
Returning to what this blog was meant to be, telling the stories of what we encounter every day in the funeral business.
I'm disappointed that I was not able to share with you the video because it was like riding along and getting a play-by-play of the action.
I decided to do the video before I had any idea of what was about to happen.
I showed up at the funeral home, like any other day. Today's service was to be at the church. So we loaded the casket containing the deceased woman into the hearse and proceeded on our way.
The church today was across the river on an island accessible only by ferry. Life on the island is a little slower paced. Things happen when they happen. And not a moment earlier. For those that live there, it's a different kind of life than what we experience. And for the visitors, it's a pleasant place to visit and forget about your troubles. San Souci is the name of the small town on the island. It overlooks the shipping channel that runs between Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Large Ships containing iron ore meander up and down the river silently just off the shore. The occasional power boat will go roaring by and then it's silent once again.
As we pulled up to the tiny country church, we noticed there were no other cars around. It's 9:30am and we need to have everything set up for the viewing and service by 10am when the family arrives. The church is locked!
At 9:45am, we still can't get in contact with the pastor and the family begins to arrive. 
At 10:05am, we finally get the pastor to answer her phone. She said she'd planned on arriving at 10:45 for the 11am service and that someone should have stopped by to unlock the church. And went on to say that she was on the mainland and just 10 minutes away. (Now, since it takes at least 10 minutes to get across on the ferry, she'd better be waiting in line at the boat.) More family and friends have arrived and some need to use the restroom.
At 10:20am I throw out the idea of an outdoor service on the lawn. It's turning out to be a beautiful day on the island. The idea is snickered at but no one is keen to it.
It's 10:30am and just about everyone is here except the pastor. We're still locked out and people are starting to wonder what's going on. I've tried to calm them. But we have old people doing the pee-pee dance here.
10:45am, the pastor shows up, the family rushes the doors and there is a line at the restroom door. 
When they come out of the restroom, they want to know where the deceased is layed out. I remind them that we were locked out as well and we'd like to bring her inside if we could get a few pall bearers to help us up the steep steps. At this point we have to try to clear a path wide enough for not only the casket but the six people carrying her. 
As we are setting up the body for viewing, something flutters past my head and I realize in a heartbeat what it is. Just last week, I had to wrangle a bat out of a church and here we are again. Remaining calm, I don't say a word and proceed as if nothing is going on. 
After everyone has filed past the corpse of their mother, friend and grandmother, we get the service started.(Only 15 minutes late!) I closed the interior doors and proceed to throw a jacket over the lost little flying mouse. So easy to catch, they are. I escort him outside, where he unappreciatively hits the sun light and falls to the grass, wondering what has just happened to him.
When the service ends and they load the woman back into my hearse to be transported to the cemetery on the mainland, no one is the wiser that my nerves are about shot. 
To them, it was just their mother, not wanting to leave. It was a beautiful service performed by the pastor, who arrived just when she said she would and not a minute before. Now it was time for cocktails at the yacht club. Things happen at their own speed out here on island time.

This map shows Harsen's Island in the center. The right side is Canada. And look at that! You can see my house from here! Just over there on the left near that air field. (But that's as much as I'll put here about that).

Harsen's Island is the location of the first funeral that I ever did. That was an experience all of it's own. Click here to revisit this classic tale.

Sorry you didn't get to see the video. But honestly, I can be boring sometimes when I'm trying not to look flustered. Thanks for coming along on the virtual ride. Maybe I'll try the video again. 
We'll see....


That corgi :) said...

It does sound like an interesting day, Stew. I'm glad it all worked out eventually and the church was opened, needs were taken care of, and the deceased was honored by those that loved her. I found this blog last week or so; thought about you; I think you need to contact her, she might "enjoy" featuring some of your stories about funerals, etc.


Stew said...

Thanks, I'll be in touch with her. She can be my Harold and I can be her Maude.

Mitchell is Moving said...

From here, the bat story is very funny, but I'm sure it wasn't at the time. Very nice save. I can't imagine the stress of the day. Delays stress me out in normal, unimportant situations. And I would have liked the outdoor service!

laura.forestdreams:) said...

((oh no...i wrote a long comment...and then went back to read your post again...BEFORE i published it...i clicked on map to enlarge it...and POOF, my comment disappeared...)) here i go again :)

if they hadn't come to open up the church...i wonder what kind of creative outdoor potty system you or the service attendees would have come up with?! hmmmm, i guess that's something we really don't want to think about!

bats. in a church. flying in the daytime? i wonder why they don't have them relocated...i sure wouldn't want to get any bat guano on my head while sitting at the pew!

anyway, glad it all worked out in the end, stew!! can see canada from your house!? =)

Stew said...

That would give new meaning to the church pew.
I can't quite see Canada but it looks the same as Michigan except the people are smiling.

Jim said...

I figured you were busy Stew as we haven't seen you around!
'Load the woman into my hearse'!! lol This just struck me funny! And another reason to be cremated! No need to look around for pall-bearers.
Your stories would be great in a book Stew. As I said when I first 'met' you, this whole area around death and dying intrigues most readers. ANd some of your are quite funny...intentional or not!
Good to have you back.

Ms Sparrow said...

The local PBS channel has been re-airing the "William and Mary" TV series. Your tales remind me of those programs and vice versa!