Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RMS Titanic ( April 10, 1912 - April 15, 1912 )

The RMS Titanic, a White Star Line Ship set sail on April 10, 1912 for it's maiden voyage bound for New York from Southampton, UK. While it was nothing like the ocean liners we see today, it was quite magnificent for it's day. 
Remember, this is before flying over the ocean was an everyday occurrence. For most people, a ship was the only way to cross the ocean and start a new life in a new world. The promises given of wealth and land were still being told and many just wanted a chance. Others traversed the open waters regularly for business and social reasons. The mix of passengers on board was great and therefore, it was believed that they should be kept separated according to class.

Captain Edward John Smith
Edward Smith was commissioned to captain the ship on it's first voyage. A ship that was believed to be unsinkable.

RMS Titanic

We all know that on April 14, 1912 at 11:40pm, the ship collided with an iceberg. And by 2:20am on April 15, 1912, the ship had disappeared into the deep ocean off the coast of New Foundland, Canada. More than half of the passengers and crew had gone down with the ship because of poorly managed and too few lifeboats on board.

It is claimed that Edward Smith was last seen handing a baby to a crew member out of the cold Atlantic waters into a lifeboat, then he simply disappeared himself into the black of night with no moon above.

Modern radar was not present and the crew relied on visual sightings of icebergs and other obstacles. The cold current from the North mixing with the warm spring air caused an optical illusion which virtually made the iceberg disappear.

Many bodies were identified and shipped back home but many others were not.
Halifax, Nova Scotia was the closest city to the tragedy and many of the recovered bodies from the frozen ocean were transported there. They were numbered as they were pulled from the water. Today you can visit Fairview Cemetery in Halifax and see the resting place of one hundred and twenty-one victims of that tragic night. There are headstones for each body recovered. Some have names and others remain unknown. But they all have a number. The same number they were assigned as they were pulled from the water. 

For many years, the grave that was visited the most was that of an unknown child. It is still the most visited but through the magic of dna testing, the child now has a name.
Another grave visited often since the movie Titanic came out staring Leonardo DiCaprio is that of 
J. Dawson. However the movie is based on facts but it is a fictional story and the man buried  there is actually believed to be Joseph Dawson, an Irishman that worked in the boiler room of the Titanic and not the famed Jack Dawson. But movie goers including myself can not help but to search him out and pay tribute.
William Denton Cox is also buried there. He was a heroic steward who died escorting 3rd class passengers to the life boats.

We all know the story. But as you stand there surrounded by stones that all have the same date engraved on them, you start to get an idea of just how big of a tragedy this was.

 These fine young men were kind enough to show us around Halifax for the day and had never visited this site before. And who can believe that they haven't seen the movie?!
Unknown Child now has a name

 Of course it wouldn't be a proper visit from the Brighter Side of the Grave if we didn't stop at Halifax's oldest cemetery too.
 At this burial ground, we discovered the grave of the man who burned down the White House back in the War of 1812. (not pictured)

 This beautiful artwork is the handiwork of Mother Nature and Father Time. It may look like a landscape painting, but it simply moisture and mold.

What could be more beautiful than nature imitating nature?
 Thanks for visiting these cemeteries with us.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

A big Thank You for our Host for the day in Halifax.

Hope you enjoyed the pie guys!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dr. Ralph K Adams Jr.

January 16, 1924 - July 23, 2013

As children, we get mad at our parents over silly things like not getting an ice cream from the truck in the neighborhood. We are disappointed when we can't get the name brand item, just this once. We say stupid things like " I hate you!" when we have no idea what the word hate even means. They send us to our rooms when they've had all they can take from us or they might even take away our favorite toy. As we grow older, we think to ourselves, that was one messed up childhood, my parents were so mean sometimes. Perhaps if you have children yourself, you might start to realize they were doing the best they could, trying to teach you the ways of the world. But it's not until after they are gone that you really start to realize everything that they did for you.

Taken July 4th in my garden
On Tuesday, July23rd at 10:52pm, my father slipped away peacefully while holding my hand.

Over the last two years since Mom died, we've grown quite close. I would visit with him almost daily. Sometimes going for a drive in my little car or maybe wash the hearse together. He was so proud of my new hearse. Other times we might go to the park where he'd always want to walk just a little further than he probably should have. He loved nature. And still other times, we'd sit quietly watching Reba on television, not saying a word. He loved the red-heads and that girl can sing too!

As I stated last week, my father was a pioneer in Chiropractic care. He cared deeply and honestly for all people without prejudice. (Something that was rare for men of his age) He was soft spoken but usually had something to say when he spoke. Even if it was only for us to "Go tell your mother she wants you!" He loved his Dr.Pepper and A&W Rootbeer. He believed that Vicks Vapo Rub was a cure for almost anything that a good adjustment wouldn't fix. He lived a clean life and knew that good livin' was long livin'.

He was over 9 years older than my mother and for that reason alone, we all believed that he would be the first to go. Although we foolishly couldn't imagine a life without either of them. As it turned out, his oldest son died before him, followed shortly by my mother. And to be honest, if she had not gone first, I doubt that I would have gotten to know this wonderful man like I have. He was always in her shadow letting her have the spotlight. Then when she left this world, she left him a lost, lonely man searching for a reason to keep going. I walked into their apartment a few months after and found him in his pajamas staring out across the lake from the chair that had been my mothers. He had not been down to eat for a day and the caregivers were worried about him. In that moment, I knew I had to move him out of there and surround him with family and people that love him and would ensure he got what he needed every day. I was fortunate to eventually find a great caregiver named Dawn that would come every morning. ("Dawn comes in the morning", we would tell him as we put him to bed) He and her hit it off right from the start. She proved to be invaluable to his care over the next 10 months. My sister, a certified chef made sure we had nutritious meals everyday and between her and I we made sure his evenings were filled with activities and kept to a schedule. A schedule that always included ice cream and Reba.

I learned so much about this quiet man over the past two years. And while going through pictures, I started to notice him in photos I had seen hundreds of times. I noticed his facial expressions, his posture, his impeccable sense of dress. I noticed how happy he was in every picture. He was happy because we were happy. His true pride was his family.

As things took a turn for the worst a week ago Sunday, I remember him saying to me, "I don't know what's happening. I don't feel right." On Saturday before that, he was a little off, but nothing to really take note of. Nothing too out of the ordinary. But by Monday, it was clear that this was the point of no return. We took our turns sitting by his side. He was never left alone. This man who gave us so much in his life, was not going through this alone. At times, we had several of my siblings gathered in his room recalling some of the good memories that we had, hoping that he could hear what we were saying. His caregiver, Dawn spent countless hours with us that whole week. Then, on that quiet Tuesday night, he and I were together listening to the quiet (like he liked to do so often), he took one last short breath and was gone.

I'm now left wondering if he really knew, just how much I appreciate everything he did for not only me and my siblings, but for all the people of the world. He set a fine example of what a man should be. I can only hope that I can measure up to his legacy.

In memory of my father, I will be advancing my career in the funeral business to a higher level where I can help others going through a loss of a loved one on a more personal level. But I'll write more about that later.
For now, I will grieve my own loss and learn from a great man how to give more and take less.

A Video Tribute to my Dad - click to watch

"Take it easy, Daddy!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia

The temperature was cool with many clouds and the ever present threat of rain. But this day was one that Ed and I looked forward to for months while we planned our Adventure to Glory.
This day, we set foot on land in the North Atlantic.
Many, many miles north of where we departed from in Boston.

We found ourselves in a wonderful sea-side city where much of America has roots to.

A city steeped with rich history and amazing scenery.

The wildlife was unique, yet very familiar.
We were met at the docks by two hansom men and their friendly dog.
And while our time there was short, they did an amazing job of showing us the highlights of their fair city.
But who are those hansom men that Ed is walking with?

Well, if you read the blogs Ocean Breezes or From Sophie's View, you know who these guys are.
When I learned that Halifax was going to be on our itinerary, I quickly sent off an email and set it all up.
We started out getting to know each other by walking around Point Pleasant Park. But we all felt like we'd known each other for years. It was awesome to see so many of the things that they both have photographed and blogged about for so long.
I'm sure that I could not do the stories that go along with the photos justice compared to our host. So I chose to relish in the beauty of this place. I did learn though that this pavement is not pavement at all. That is the natural rock that this city is built on.
Miss Sophie was a most gracious host and delighted in showing us her Mr.Orangie and how to retrieve it when thrown. Perhaps I'll have her tutor Pugsley on this trade. He seems to sit and look at you with wondering eyes saying, "Why did you throw that over there?"

Miss Sophie and her staff took us to see the Dingle Tower with and overlook of this beautiful harbor.
We found this lion guarding the entrance to the tower.
But since it was at rest, we knew it was OK to enter.

 Halifax and Dartmouth sit on this natural harbor that is a delight from any angle.
 Even from above.

 We all had a great time and I can't thank Jim, Ron and of course Sophie for the wonderful day enough.
Lunch was delicious and the company was even better. The magic of the internet brought us together.

And the magic of wonderful personalities will make us friends for a good long time.

PS: Jim & Ron, watch for a surprise to arrive Thursday!
Just a little something from the place that I call home.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


For those who do not get the Facebook updates, last Sunday, my father started having seizures at the breakfast table. An ambulance took him to hospital where it was determined there was no saving him. Hospice has set us up with everything we need to care for him at home. He's now been without food and water for a week and is sleeping all the time. I've written this sitting at his bedside.

Often people who are submissive are looked at in our society as being week. They often seem to have no opinion when it comes to decision making. But as I sit watching my father die, I look up to the pictures above his bed of my very domineering mother that controlled his life for fifty eight years, I realize just how strong of a man he was. The strength it took to live with such a woman for so long is immeasurable. To choose to let her have her way whether it's what he wanted or not and to always put the welfare of his family before his own desires took more strength than I can imagine. My father has proven this week just how strong he is by hanging on to life when his body has failed. He keeps hanging on.

One thing that is certain despite any beliefs of afterlife or not is that he will live on. Pieces of his strength and determination will live on for many years in each of the people in his life that he has touched.

In 1954, he took his new bride and son to Iowa to study Chiropractic care. After becoming a doctor, moved again to Louisiana to start a practice in a town that had never heard of this new type of health care.

After a couple of failed attempts to get a profitable practice going with an ever expanding family, he made the difficult decision to move to Michigan and join the ranks of men making good money working for Henry Ford building automobiles to move the world in a new direction.

He never gave up on his dream to help people naturally and all the line-men at Ford referred to him as Doc. With an adjusting table in our dinning room, there was always a steady stream of patients coming through our door.

He is a man that has always taught us to reduce, reuse and recycle even before people knew those words. He would recycle the foil off a Hershey's Kiss. He would pick up garbage off the street out of respect for the neighborhood and the people who live there. He taught me to get up and go to work regardless of how I felt simply because others are counting on me to be there.

These are all things that will stick with me for life. Simple ways that will help my father's life to never end even after his body is gone.

He was a pioneer in Chiropractic care and a dedicated man. Even now as he holds on to my sister's hand he's teaching us to be strong and never give up.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Saint John

After our big excitement for the day, we still had several hours before the ship sailed so we thought we'd get to know a little more about this quaint city on the Bay of Fundy.

As you can imagine in an area with such a high tide rise, it is very hilly. If I lived there I'd have stronger, more defined glutes and hamstrings.

I love the architecture of these old brick buildings.

This little gem was found outside the front door to their Police Museum. Knowing the size of the back seat, I'd hate to be the bad guy they have to take "downtown".

From deck eleven of the ship, you can get a great overview of this cute city by the bay.

This next shot shows a little of the old city with a bit of new thrown in. I like that from the street with the old houses, you only see a nice city park. A park that is actually the roof of the new houses.

In the center of town, we found a nice park that opened up on to the Old Loyalist Cemetery. And what would a visit to a new town be without a stop at the old cemetery.

But what is an Old Loyalist? you ask. Well, it would seem that in the Spring of 1783 a fleet of ships showed up on these shores carrying about 2000 outcast from the newly formed United States. People that were loyal to the British Union. People that the United States considered to be traders. Canada has always been that neutral territory where the Americans and the British can come together.

Very much a park like setting, this cemetery or burial ground is no longer open to burials.
Graves here date from the late 1700's to late 1800's.

Loaded with history, the townspeople maintain this sacred place with pride. It's a quiet sanctuary in the middle of town.

A place where it's easy to appreciate the Canadian heritage for the melting pot that it is. A place where people from all over the world have come together to make such a beautiful place to live.

Also in the heart of town, we found these strange wooded people. I don't know the story behind them. But they were interesting and fun.

What would a trip to Canada be without a moose?

Or at least a statue of one.
One of my favorite things to spot in every city and town in the world, a ghost sign. The remnants of something that used to be.
One last stop before boarding the ship and departing for our next destination, A pub for a local beverage. This place spoke of Saint John and Canada from floor to ceiling and corner to corner. Locally brewed beers and fresh lobster was their specialty.

Our next stop was a bit of a treat for us. As if the rest of this journey wasn't enough. Stop by and see some new, old friends with us.