Monday, April 30, 2012

Life Expectancy

Often I hear at a committal service about the story of the Dash.
It goes on about how the first date on our headstones is the date we are born. We have no control over that.
The second date on our headstones is the date we died. And most often, we don't have much control over that either.
But, what we do have control over is how we spend the time between those dates. The dash, as it is represented on the stone.
I found this calculator on a website for an insurance company.  I found it to be a fun little tool. I scored a 89.
I'm not sure how I feel about that. If it means that the remaining 43 years is going to be good and healthy, I'm alright with it. But if I'm doomed to suffer, then we may have to revisit calculating that end date.

Give it a try, see what you've got left.

Lifespan Expectancy

So, how'd you do?
How does that make you feel?
If you are like me, you know you have some work to do before it's over. Better get busy.

Obviously, this is only one companies calculations and there are many more factors that can effect your span of life. We don't know how much time we will get. The facts are, if you live a clean, healthy life, you most likely will live a longer life. In my family, we just witnessed a scare that almost cut a clean life short with no warning at all. But only you can determine how full that life is or how you will be remembered.

"Knowledge that is not used, is abused." ~ Cree tribe

Live well, my friends. Expect more.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Place in This World

This song takes me back a few years.
Growing up in the United Pentecostal Church, I battled the feelings inside me so that I could find my place in this world.
 How was I to know, when I stopped fighting it and accepted who I am, that I would find true happiness.

Hearing this song, all these years later, it takes on a whole new meaning.
And perhaps I have formed a tighter bond with God than many of my peers at a younger age.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day of Silence - Observed by a teenager

The 17th annual Day of Silence recently happened on April 20th in schools around the world. It was originally organized to represent all the bullying and harassment happening in schools everywhere. By being silent for a day, the participants show support for those that don't seem to have a voice when violence threatens their everyday lives. This day is for every child that was picked on in school. Be it for a physical handicap, mental handicap or for just being different than the crowd, we are giving a "voice" to those that scream, but are not heard.

I wish that this day could be observed in the business or even college level worlds. But reality keeps it confined to Junior and Senior High Schools, not just in the United States, but all across the globe. Students are standing up and "Not Being Heard" for all those that have suffered (including me). The best I could do was a simple facebook entry stating...
"This Space Intentionally Left Blank.....   National Day of Silence"

I look forward to the day that these kids are running the world.

A friend's son has a blog and after staying silent all day at school, had this to type on his blog. The only silence broken was the clicking sound of typing.

I’m pretty sure this was one of the most successful days I’ve ever had. The pictures above are of a card (inside, front, back) a friend made for me to show some of the people who participated and/or support the Day of Silence! Honestly, I still can’t believe how big it was in our school. I came to school with a stack of “speaking cards” that I printed from the DoS website, and as I showed people, more and more of them asked for some. I started having people I didn’t even know come up to me and use my name when asking for them. It actually got to the point where I ran out of cards to give. I stopped giving them out when I had just enough for my teahcers, but by fourth period, my teachers had already seen the cards or had been told about the event. The best part: Not one of my teachers opposed. During first period, My math substitute actually put the slip of paper on the overhead to show the whole class and gave out sticky-notes for students to write “Day of Silence” and wear. My third period teacher said she would try not to ask many questions, and the rest of my teachers knew about it already and were quick to say that is was understood and they were okay with it.

This day really opens your eyes. It’s a lot harder than you would think. This morning, when I was in the shower, I caught myself about to burst out in song or start muttering to myself. During first and second period, I blurted out the answers to questions the teachers asked. Of course, your friends point it out to you like you hadn’t already caught it. They’d gasp and point, and I would cover my mouth with eyes wide open. But it’s all fun.

I actually didn’t do nearly as good as I thought I was going to. Besides the mindless slips, there were times where I found that I had no choice but to speak. In yearbook, we are working on a project. Keeping silent is very hard when three of the four group members aren’t speaking, so every now and then we had to say something really quick. Being a social butterfly helps none of this.

One of the biggest things I noticed was how people were showing me personally that they were participating. I mean, it was probably because I’m the token gay-guy at the school, or that I was the one to warn everybody a week or two in advance. I had friends who would run up to me and wave their hands in silence to show they were participating. They would smile and shoot me a glance that let me know they were joining in, and I couldn’t help but smile back and think about how loyal and amazing my friends are. Recently, I’ve realized that my friends are truly a gift. The card shown above was made for me by a couple of friends. The support I have is beyond belief. I could go on and on. I am lucky.

Moral of the story: Not only did the day of silence bring a lot of people together for a good cause, but it taught me about myself and reminded me of how simply amazing my friends are. 

Happy Day of Silence.


Thanks Spencer, for being an inspiration to an entire school. You are effecting more people in your life than you could ever know.
Spencer for President!

You can check out Spencer's blog at


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dazed and Confused

I sit here right now feeling a little dazed and confused. I've just had a day that I will never forget.

It all started two days ago. I was at my sisters house, where my Dad now lives and we were discussing some of the work that needs to be done still. She kept saying that she had a migraine headache. But didn't think much of it as she's had them before.

Then yesterday in the morning, I was there and she still had the headache. She said it was getting worse.

I left her to sleep it off a little and went home to sleep myself. When I awoke in time to go into my midnight job, my phone rang. She was in a lot of pain and wanted my help. I really didn't know what I could do for her though and didn't want to be late for work. My sister that cooks all the meals for my Dad stopped by and brought her some over the counter medication and didn't know much more what to do. And still another sister that lives there, sat with her most of the night. She even offered at several points to take her to the emergency room.

This morning when I returned from work, I telephoned her to see how she was feeling. There was no answer so I figured I'd drive over there and see for myself. Suddenly there was a call coming in from her house phone. She was begging me for help and saying something about flooding the bathroom. I put it in high gear and was there in a matter of minutes. By the time I got there, she had managed to call my brother that lives three hours away as well. He called his daughter that lives here locally and she met me there. We found her incoherent and unable to assist us in getting her up and out to the doctor. She insisted to go to the doctor and not the hospital.

One look and the doctor sent us across the road to the hospital. Much to my amazement, we were rushed right in and test were started right away. The conclusion was that she had a brain aneurysm. She had lost control over her entire left side of her body and was fading fast. The doctor informed me that if I'd taken another hour to get her there, she would not have lived.

Their sister hospital 12 miles away has a top notch neurology department and they needed to transfer her. But there was no way she would live that long to get there. They had to induce a coma for transportation.

I met the paramedics at the other hospital and we waited for the drugs to wear off. When they did, she was right back in the pain from earlier and was not able to speak at all. They still have the breathing tube in so her throat didn't close up and suffocate her but she was maintaining life herself.

I was finally able to go home after many, many hours to get some rest (and here I am typing). I am confident that she is in good hands and they will do all they can for her. They are taking another CT scan tonight and we should know in the morning if she will be able to clear this up on her own or if they will have to operate.

At this point we don't know if she will pull through or not. Or if she does, if there will be any brain damage or physical damage. Or if she'll be just fine.

She is 49 years old. She has no living will. And no will. There is no legal power of attorney either. Without her, I would have to put my father back into a senior facility too. As I stated above, I am dazed and confused. One thing I know for sure is, at the end of this, I will have all those documents in place right away.

Are you ready for the unexpected?


Monday, April 16, 2012

Dash T. Bunny

Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant  ~  Kiowa tribe

Each day brings a new surprise.
As I walked through the garden on the way to my car this morning, I found this violet bursting with life, 
marking the resting place of my good friend and first pet,
 Dash the Bunny.

The sight of this display brought back many memories of him hopping around the house.
I remember when we first let him hop free and he had no idea how strong his back legs were. He was so excited and jumped as hard as he could. This of course sent him flying heals over head and landing upside down. And then how embarrassed he would get when I told that story and he'd go hide in the corner.

Here's a photo of him in his older days. Silly bunny, the carrot goes in the other end.

I hope your garden is bursting with new life and many happy memories.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lambs, Calves, and Butterflies

We will forever be known by the tracks we leave. ~ Dakota tribe

As I listen to the stories of the lives that we honor each day in the funeral business, I often find myself fascinated by what I hear. The life we live daily effects so many others in ways that we can't imagine. We think that our daily grind is so boring or that no one would care about the things we do. But as bloggers, we get a subtle reminder from our readers that people are interested. It's something that many people never get to experience. We don't get to go to our own funerals and hear the wonderful things that people say about us. We don't get to hear the stories of how we touched their lives. 

It's something that I would tell anyone; that people do care and you are loved, more than you'll ever know.

It's been a busy week here in the lower Thumb of Michigan (check the map and you'll know what I mean). There have been a variety of people that we've had the privilege of honoring. We've had rich people, poor people, young people and old ones too. Thursday was a 90 year old woman. Her service was in town, but her burial was in a small country cemetery. A little town, that no one knows where it is when you mention it. I found this appropriate marker at the grave of an infant that was buried  sometime mid century. It's appropriate not only because of the innocence of the young child, but because the name of the town is Lambs.

Often when an older person dies, we don't see a big turn out for the funeral. The person's friends have often died before them and family is scattered and can't always make it. This one was different. She had a big family and they all seemed to stay here locally. They all loved their grandmother, even the ones that weren't related, and everyone showed up. The procession was a long one, both for distance and the number of cars. As we drove out to the cemetery, you could witness the signs of spring and rebirth everywhere. The wild lilies growing in the ditches, a young calf nuzzling against it's mother in a field. When we reached the little grave yard across from the tiny stone church, much of the processional cars were left on the road because there just wasn't enough room for the vast amount of mourners to fit in the cemetery. The children that were in attendance were very well behaved and you could tell that everyone there was  truly sorrowful. As often happens after the committal service, people disperse throughout the grounds of the cemetery looking for loved ones graves. It was such a peaceful place where you felt so at ease. I could see why someone would choose this place of rest. I found great joy watching as two little girls went picking dandelions and chasing butterflies.

Perhaps one of the greatest illusions, is that life could somehow be better than it already is.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend, and their life. Because everyone around you is enjoying having you in their lives.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


As I enjoy my garden this spring afternoon, I am overwhelmed by the music that I hear.

Right in front of me can be heard the songs of the many species of birds that we share our garden with. But in the distance, I can hear the sounds of a lawnmower making it's first spring passes across the neighbors lawn and even the sounds of the nearby road with all the life that it brings to our neighborhood.

Each day, we are bombarded with noise. But is it noise? Or is it the sounds of life?

Stop for just a second and listen real close to your surroundings. Try to name at least 5 distinct sounds in your environment.

It's amazing how much effort it takes to focus our awareness.
Practice, practice.

OK, that's all for today. Carry on.

p.s. Sorry about the shaky camera... I'm new to this video thing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


My office window faces the East. This is a deliberate placement of most the windows in my home. I chose this because the morning is my favorite time of day. On almost any given day, I observe and value the sunrise and marvel at it's beauty.

The morning sunrise to me represents a rebirth. A beginning to something potentially wonderful. In contrast, a person might enjoy an equally beautiful sunset. The difference to me is that a sunset marks the end of the day and leaves you with darkness. Whereas a sunrise leaves you with  warmth and light.

As I prepare to go off and hear another service reflecting on another life, I can't help but to notice the representation that the sunset has on a funeral service. It can be very sad indeed. As we say good bye to someone that we loved though, I know that my glorious sunrises in the morning would not be possible if there were no sunsets. Each life lived brings with it the possibilities for even greater things in the future. In my opinion, we have everyone that lived before us to thank for what we have today.

The photo above was taken, as I typed this from my computer. The colors lasted but mere minutes. But it was a beautiful birth to what will be a wonderful day. Enjoy.

I'll leave you with this thought today...
Your value to people is who you are. With all your silly quirks, they are waiting for you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I heard a story once in the Orient about two architects who went to see the Buddha.
They had run out of money on their projects and hoped the Buddha could do something about it.
"Well, I'll do what I can" said the Buddha and he went off to see their work.
Michigan's Mackinac Bridge,
connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas...
a night time storm.
The first architect was building a bridge and the Buddha was very impressed.
"That's a very good bridge" he said and he began to pray. 
Suddenly, a great white bull appeared, carrying on it's back enough gold to finish construction.
"Take it," said the Buddha, "and build even more bridges."
And so the first architect went away happy.

The second architect was building a wall, 
and when the Buddha saw it he was equally impressed.
"That's a very good wall," he said solemnly, and began to pray.
Suddenly the sacred bull appeared again, 
walked over to the second architect, 
and sat on him!

Tearing down the Berlin Wall.

Daily we make choices. Choices to build bridges of friendship and love or walls of hatred and greed.
What are you building today?