Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A New Chapter

I've always been an emotional soul. Something that can be challenging working in the funeral business. Growing up in my large Christian family and the Pentecostal Church, I didn't learn not to have feelings; but instead to hide them. A lesson I've tried the last 16 years to unlearn. This last entry in my blog has been two years in the writing. I feel it has been worth it.

I want to help my father and often feel as though I need to be there every moment for him. But in reality, the best thing I can do for him is show him that I have not given up my own life to take care of him. I have to trust those that I have hired to take care of him and remind myself what living is all about. 

He sat at the breakfast table with his cup in hand and watched out the window as the morning light slowly snuck in and stole the power that the darkness had held over the house and surrounding gardens. It turns out, this would be his last morning at the familiar table. Time has stolen his ability to interact, like a switch that has short circuited, his brain has left us.

Suddenly, life has drastically changed for everyone involved. We wait patiently as his body dwindles away. We find ourselves longing for an end. The suffering must end. But it goes on. Day after day, we sit by his side. We wonder, is today the day? Or will it be tomorrow's early light that will shine on a new life for us all? The day that will be the beginning of a new chapter. A chapter that doesn't include either of my parents.
I've been an adult capable of making my own decisions for many years now. But this is the beginning of the chapter where I can no longer call for advice from those that have cared for me my entire life. It's time to take everything I've learned and become an example for someone else. Am I ready? No one ever is. But that's the way life works. Those hidden emotions have become too much for anyone to hide.

Then, one late evening, when I don't think I can take a moment more, as I sit quietly, holding the hand that gave me life, I feel his life slip away. His last breath was uneventful. Just a shallow, short breath. A breath that was relieving for not only my father but for me. A single breath that would change the way that I see the world. Who knew so much could be contained in such a short breath. In his 89 years, my father had taken countless breaths. Often those breaths preceeded instructions or advice. Now in his short last breath, I find the best advice he's ever given me. "Find yourself", it said.

And thus has begun the next chapter in my life. At first, I wanted to pass on the things I have learned. But I quickly learned that others will not hear what they need, until the time is right for them. So my lesson in the end was to experience life, for all that it has to offer. There is more to discover than anyone could ever discover. There is more to see than any one person could ever see. It would be best for me to focus on what I can do and see for myself than to try to enlighten the whole planet. I love this quote from JJ Van der Leeuw; The real mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

So over the two years since my father's death, I have focused on me. I've stopped dying my hair. I've changed my eating habits and focus my attention on toning and conditioning my body. I limit my exposure to the sun and have shed nearly 30 pounds.

Now, as I care for my aging dog, catering to his every whimper, I find myself more capable of dealing with my impending loss. I feel better physically and have gained great pride in knowing that I have touched the lives of so many people even in the smallest ways. People that I am proud to know and love. I know that I will have many more folks that my life's path will cross in the future and I look forward to each and every one.

Tonight, as the daylight gives way to the mystery of darkness, and a chill comes through the open window, I ready myself for tomorrow. A new chapter. A new emotionally filled opportunity. And I wish you all happiness.

Friday, May 8, 2015

History is Expanding!

I did not write this, but I found this article from The Onion funny, but true! It does resemble how I tend to think though....

WASHINGTON—Painting a stark portrait of a phenomenon that appears to be irreversible, a report published Thursday by the American Historical Association has found that the past is currently expanding at an alarming rate.

The comprehensive 950-page study, compiled by a panel of the nation’s most prominent historians, warns that the sum total of past time grows progressively larger each day, making it unlikely anything can be done to halt, or even slow down, the relentless trend.

“We believe the past is larger now than it’s ever been before,” said College of William and Mary professor Timothy Gibbon, lead author of the report, observing that whole generations of people have already become a part of history, and that if nothing changes, an untold number more can expect the same fate. “Many things that are in the past today were, during our parents’ and grandparents’ time, still in the present—or even the future. Based on precise measurements of its size, we believe the past has subsumed every single person and event that has ever existed.”

“It’s shocking to contemplate, but in the relatively short stretch since 1984, when I first began tracking its growth, the past has expanded by more than 30 years,” he added.

The report predicted this disturbing pattern will only continue, with one occurrence after another becoming part of a “colossal” historical record that, by all indications, appears intent on seizing absolutely everything without any discrimination. To date, nothing, no matter how significant, has been able to escape the past, which historians say has taken hold of episodes as momentous as the invention of the printing press, the execution of Louis XVI, numerous ice ages, the westward expansion of the United States, and the year 1995, among billions of others.

“This massive, unrestricted accrual of time is quickly becoming unmanageable—it’s growing bigger and bigger even now as I speak,” said Gibbon, who confirmed the past grew by more than six months in the time it took to research and write the new report. “Presidential administrations, extinct species, ancient empires—all have been claimed by a relentless past. There was some speculation that World War II would end history, but it didn’t.”

“Neither did the moon landing, the signing of the Magna Carta, the formation of Pangaea, the extinction of the dinosaurs, the fall of the Ming dynasty, the breaking apart of Pangaea, or the discovery of the Higgs boson,” he continued. “Indeed, these events have only served to make the past even larger.”

The report went on to state that concerns over the expanding past were outweighed only by fears about the future, which is assumed to become vanishingly small with each passing moment.

Satanic Yoga?

Are they serious?!
I seriously question how these people get to be any sort of authority in any capacity. I know you will join me in shaking my head in disbelief after reading the article that follows.


(NaturalNews) The successor to Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's former chief exorcist for 25 years, has come out in condemnation of fantasy novels and yoga, declaring both to cause demonic possession. Speaking to The Independent (UK), Father Cesare Truqui explained how the Roman Catholic Church has seen a steady uptick in reports of demonic possession all around the world, and that popular culture pastimes like reading Harry Potter novels and engaging in Vinyasa are largely to blame.

The popularity of many modern television shows, movies and novels that glorify "demonic" creatures such as vampires and magical wizards has apparently led both young and old alike to engage in certain activities that the Vatican says summon satanic spirits, claims Professor Giuseppe Ferrari. Ferrari recently attended a meeting in Rome where Catholic authorities and delegates discussed how to deal with this alleged demonic possession crisis.

Demonic characters in shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries are often portrayed as beautiful human beings with desirable characteristics and superpowers, which may lure the unsuspecting into dabbling in the occult. Father Cesare says he's seen many an individual speaking in tongues and exhibiting unearthly strength, two attributes that his religion says indicate the possibility of evil spirits inhabiting a person's body.

"There are those who try to turn people into vampires and make them drink other people's blood, or encourage them to have special sexual relations to obtain special powers," stated Professor Ferrari at the meeting. "These groups are attracted by the so-called beautiful young vampires that we've seen so much of in recent years."

Is yoga about worshiping Hindu gods, or is it about engaging in advanced stretching and exercise?

At its roots, yoga is said to have originated from the ancient worship of Hindu gods, with the various poses representing unique forms of paying homage to these entities. From this, other religions such as Catholicism and Christianity have concluded that the practice is out of sync with their own, and that it may result in demonic spirits entering a person's body.

Others contend that yoga practice is really more focused on advanced stretching moves and physical exercise, and that it can bring about healing and improved well-being such as improved core strength, better circulation and reduced stress. The intent of the person doing yoga, rather than yoga itself, in other words, is what defines the extent of how the practice influences a person's being and soul.

But Father Truqui sees yoga as being satanic, claiming that "it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter." And in order to deal with the consequences of this, his religion has had to bring on an additional six exorcists, bringing the total number to 12, just to deal with what he says is a 100% rise in the number of requests for exorcisms over the past 15 years.

"The ministry of performing exorcism is little known among priests," stated Father Truqui to The Independent. "It's like training to be a journalist without knowing how to do an interview."

At the same time, Father Amorth admits that the Roman Catholic Church's notoriety for all kinds of perverted sex scandals is also indicative of demonic activity -- he stated that it represents proof that "the devil is at work inside the Vatican."

"There's homosexual marriage, homosexual adoption, IVF [in vitro fertilization] and a host of other things," added Monsignor Luigi Negri, the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, about what he says is evidence of the existential evil in society. "There's the clamorous appearance of the negation of man as defined by the Bible."


Learn more:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Like most of us, it's easier for me to see my own flaws than my good qualities. My whole life, I've been teased about being too skinny. While that is probably true, I see things a bit differently. I see my sagging chest and a little roll to my gut. And most of all, I see my lack of chin definition. For my entire life, I've seen this as "Who I Am". I never saw any of that as something that I could change. I even tried to convince myself that I was accepting " who I am ".

You see, it was programmed into me at a very young age. First, came the food. We learn to eat what our parents feed us. We form habits and preferences before we even know it. I had food allergies from an early age as well that helped to form my self image.

And activity plays a key roll in it all too. I've always been pretty active. But never considered myself physical. Friends and family reinforced the thoughts that I had of myself. I would have no fear to try something new. But was always dismissed when I wasn't very good at it. One winter, I remember trying ice skating and found that my ankles kept rolling to the side and I couldn't stand up. I was told that my ankles were weak and was given a pair of double-bladed training skates. Well, that only brought on teasing from the neighborhood kids. I decided that I would rather never ice skate again, than to be picked on for having funny looking skates.
My sister was always athletic. She's the type that wanted to play baseball with the boys rather than be stuck playing softball with the girls. Mom always backed her on any of the athletic challenges that she decided to tackle. I was tagged along, told to sit quietly and cheer her on. I did play little-league baseball for a couple of years. I was always the one that was stuck in right field and never allowed to shine. I ended up hating baseball, still do. After being teased relentlessly, one practice, I swung the bat and hit the ball over the fence. I then dropped the bat and walked home over a mile. No one could believe it and my mother asked me why I played if I didn't like it. But I felt forced to do it. Forced to live up to the example being set for me by my older siblings.

In High School, I decided that this skinny kid would be great at swimming. So, I tried out for the swim team. I won't pretend that I was all that great. But everyone seemed to look up to me for the first time in my life. I stuck with swimming for over a year. But I always felt, less important than my other siblings. Mainly because no one from my family ever showed up to watch me race. Not one! I eventually quit that and never looked back. Many years later, I asked my mother why she never came to see me swim. She said, "When were you on the swim team?" But, in her defense, she underwent a major heart surgery,  the year I was on the team. Still, I was a developing young man with no support from home.

I'm not telling you all of this to have you feel sorry for me. I'm not telling you this because it's who I am. I am telling you this because it's who I used to be. In the years following the deaths of my parents, I have struggled with finding who I am. Many people go through something similar. Working in the funeral business, I thought I understood what people went through after the loss of a loved one. I was wrong!

I have emerged the other side of this fog known as grief, a stronger man. Stronger mentally and physically. I have redefined who I am. I used to joke that I was the fattest skinny guy ever. I wasn't fat, I know that. I was out of shape. My upbringing taught me to accept who I was without question. But never once did I stop to ask myself who that was. I now have found my voice. I've found my inner self. I no longer look at something and think "I can't". Because, I can! I can do anything I desire.

I have trimmed down and toned up. Sure, I've lost a little weight. But I've gained so much more. I've gained confidence, pride, and self respect. I've let go of feelings that were holding me back and welcomed challenges that push me further than I ever imagined.
Life is meant to live. It's meant to explore. My advice to anyone reading this, is to find out who you are, and be you. Who ever you are, no one else can do it better than you can. Some say that life is hard. It's not. Some say life is easy. It's not. Some say life is lonely, tricky or a test. It's not.

Life is only a reflection. A reflection of whatever you say and do. Did you ever think, "What if this is all a dream and someday I will wake up"? Well, what if it is? What if you have the ability to steer this dream any way you like? Well, you do. I do. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sky Burials

High in the mountains of Tibet, where no trees grow and my beautiful dog's ancestors come from, there is a ritual unlike anything we have in the United States.
Take a look at this video and see what you think about this unique way of moving on from this earth.
I would love to read your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Desert Retreat

I stumbled across this a while ago and absolutely love it.
As a designer myself, I feel that a building should reflect the area around it and those that  occupy it. This project by Phillip K Smith in Joshua Tree California truly reflects it's surroundings and encompasses his artistry. Enjoy....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Can I make my own Casket?

Of course you can.

I can't say that we see a lot of this sort of thing. I know that I've seen several people that buy a casket on line or through a discount store like Walmart or Costco. All I can say about those is that you get what you pay for and don't hold it against the funeral director if things are not up to standards set by yourself. Also sometimes delivery of those caskets can take longer than through our sources, so plan your funeral accordingly and leave plenty of time. Death is never convenient.

Do-it-yourself Caskets and Coffins

There is a growing trend in people wanting to be more hands-on when it comes to their loved ones funerals. Just know that there is more to it than most people know. Funeral homes do a lot of work that no one ever sees and in some states, such as Michigan, a funeral director is required by law. You can't just bury grandpa in the field out behind the house anymore. But any director worth dealing with will be happy to customize your funeral as much as you'd like, and not everything comes with a hefty price tag. So go ahead, make your own casket, if you'd like. Or customize one of ours. We don't mind at all. Just keep in mind if you make yours, you'll be looking at it until the day you die.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A New Normal

On every death certificate that we file, it is required that we list a cause of death. If there are multiple reasons that added up to the impending doom, they must be listed in order of how they came to affect the outcome and how long the person had suffered from each ailment. I know that society thinks that these things are important. There are a constant stream of lawyers on daytime television that encourage us to lay blame on someone else and collect money for their negligence. Now, sometimes a bread-winner for the family is taken and the family is left struggling to supply minimum daily requirements. So I can see where such things are necessary. The loss of a loved one can be tragic, I know. It changes your whole life. Everything that you know has a new normal. Nothing will ever be the same.

Recently a friend telephoned me to inform me that his father had died. Devastating news, no doubt. My heart poured out to my friend and his family. It hasn't been that long since my own mother and father passed away and my friend was there for me and my family in our time of change. There is nothing that can prepare you for the loss of a parent. In fact, my first response after hanging up, was to call my mother who was friends with my friend's father. You never really get used to them not being there.

My friend is a doctor and had told me that his father had called to say that he was coming in because he wasn't feeling well. Then on the way to the office, was in a car accident and died just a few hours later. While visiting with my friend's mother, she emphatically insisted that he died in a car accident. Let me state that I have not seen the death certificate. But regardless of what it says, I wonder if it matters.

I'm not just talking about this one case either. My friends father was 84 years old. He had lived a great life, giving life to seven wonderful children of his own and many grandchildren. He lived his whole life for those children. He was a kind, loving man that all the neighborhood kids loved. He lived the life that he wanted to live and taught those around him to enjoy their own lives. Why must we place blame on how he died, instead of celebrating that he lived.

We are each given a life to live. We are distributed our challenges to cope with. It is our decisions along the way that build our tomorrows and shape the lives of those that depend upon us. Why isn't it enough that we have lived. My own parents were met with many challenges over their time on earth. It was their choices that got them to where they were. It was their choices that helped to shape me and my brothers and sisters into what we have become. Could they have made different decisions that would have worked out better in one way or another? Of course! But it was their lives to live and I am glad that they made those choices along the way.

Life is going to be different for my friend's mother. Daily life has changed immensely. All I'm saying is to be grateful for all the years that they had. Celebrate what they made together. Know that each moment in the future has been shaped by those moments of the past. Believe whatever you want about the afterlife, just don't forget to enjoy the present life while we have it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One More For The Road

With a promise of warmer weather, I have mixed feelings.

My business is based on making the funeral homes where I work look good. So it is my responsibility to make sure that every family has a clean funeral coach (hearse) to carry their loved one to the grave. While this sub-zero weather that we've had all during the month of February has been brutal and difficult to cope with at times, at least everything is frozen solid and I can deliver a clean coach to the site of the funeral, provided I can wash it and not have it freeze solid. Now, as the temperatures rise, the snow and ice begin to melt. This causes puddles along the roadways that are a mix of dirty slush and salt. When splashed upon my shiny black coaches makes for a disgusting mess unfit for even the foulest of villain's funerals, let alone a dearly loved mother of four.

That said, the weather report was calling for a warm up. We were to actually see temperatures above the freezing mark for the first time in over a month. Spring is just around the corner they say. But it's difficult to hear when there is a frozen, foot deep crust of snow and ice on everything in sight. The report said that by the evening drive home, temperature would be in the 30's f. But first! Snow! Yes, another 4 inches of snow.

It started snowing about the same time that we pulled the coach out of the garage. Just the day before I had cleaned the Black Pearl, as we call it, and I was proud to send it to service another grieving family. By the time we reached the funeral home 15 miles away, all you could see was white. The farm fields gave way to the sky and the whole thing disguised the road with it's white cloak. We watched as nature buried us deeper and deeper. By the time the service was over and we processed to the cemetery, the snow had changed to freezing rain, coating all that white with a slick gloss. We turned into the cemetery following the director in his van. Twenty SUV's and trucks trailing behind. As the terrain rolled first down and then up, I noticed that the directors van was sliding sideways down the hill into the snow bank. With multiple vehicles still blocking the busy road behind us and nowhere to turn, myself and several family members quickly came to the rescue pushing his van out of the way.

The coach made it up the hill just fine and we placed bets on each vehicle as it rounded the curve and approached the hill. All in all, there were five that got stuck. Many people trudged through the cemetery on foot after leaving their stuck vehicle. Finally, we gathered around the grave and carried the man to his final resting place.

After prayers had been said and flowers placed on the casket as a farewell, we began the process of getting everyone back on the road and headed to the luncheon that had been prepared. Last was the director, still stuck at the back of the cemetery, down the hill. It was a long push up the hill, but we got him to safety. Keep in mind when painting this picture in your head, that the entire time, we are wearing nice black suites and overcoats.

By the next morning, it had been above freezing for most of the night and almost all of yesterdays snow had disappeared. With the Great Melt of 2015 at hand, the roads are a sloppy mess and the rivers are filling to capacity fast. Now I just need to figure out how to get the Black Pearl cleaned for the next service.


January 26, 1837 is the date that Michigan became a state. For anyone living in Europe, that may not seem like long, long ago. But here in Michigan, if you find anything that is from 1850 or before, you've found a treasure. Before statehood, this was a harsh land of few rules or laws. There was an abundance of white pine forest and what seemed like a never ending supply of fur. There was debate as to whether the land belonged to the United States or to Canada. Either way, the Great Lakes made for easy transportation of goods to points West like Chicago. At one point there was an attempt to dig a canal that connected the Clinton River on the East side of the state with the Kalamazoo river on the West side. Such a canal would have made for an express route to Chicago for sure. But it proved to be too much of an undertaking and the idea gave way to the railroad.
Much of the railroad system that criss-crossed the state has now been turned into hiking and biking trails. It seems that the Interstate Highway systems have overtaken the transportation needs of the state.
Just a few miles from my house, one can still find the remains of the now defunct canal that once planned to cut across our state from Lake Michigan to Lake St.Clair. Also right next door to our other home, is the start of one of the many rails-to-trails bike paths. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by so much history. To ride these trails can be a relaxing day in nature as much as a lesson in the history of our great state.

I've written before that Thomas Alva Edison lived his boyhood in Port Huron. Port Huron is one of the great cities that I have the honor of working in a funeral home that was built by a lumber baron in 1850. I love working in the old home with all of it's creaky floors and beautiful windows.

Port Huron sits at the base of Lake Huron and has made a perfect place for centuries to cross the narrow river from Michigan into Ontario, Canada. There is impressive side by side bridges connecting the two as well as a tunnel for train traffic to cross beneath the swift current of the river.

From that train tunnel, one can access Toronto to the East and Detroit and Chicago to the West. When Thomas Edison was only 12 years old, he worked on the train that went from Port Huron to my home town of Mount Clemens, 30 miles away, selling newspapers to the passengers. He was credited for saving the life of another young man when the boy fell and young Tom pulled him to safety from between the moving train cars.

Directly under the bridges that join the two countries in Port Huron is a train station, preserved and commemorating young Tom's boyhood achievements with a statue that was created by a friend and good client of mine, standing outside between the tracks and the shore.

A little more discreet, is a similar train station in Mount Clemens. It is now a registered historic place and houses a museum dedicated to the transportation needs of the state over time.

We decided to go out to lunch at a converted fire house across the street from the train station and were graced with a train to be doing some switching by the station. So we decided to check the place out.

We were surprised at the amount of history that was packed into such a tiny building hidden from view of the daily commuters. We will definitely be back when the weather is more fitting for looking around.

And we look forward to exploring more of the amazing trails that once were hidden from view, only to be seen by rail men and massive train cars. I've heard there are numerous tresses and bridges that decorate the open farm land and wooded forest along the way. Paying homage to the past, respecting nature and reinvigorating the soul to give strength for the future; This is my church.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Savannah Visited

Following our afternoon at the Bonaventure Cemetery,
we headed in to town. 
It was a Saturday evening and Savannah had come to life.

The city was everything you would expect.
With quaint shops, bars, bistros and street music everywhere.
We explored quite a bit before deciding on a place to eat dinner.
There were many choices.
From the trendy bistros,
tourist traps like the Pirate's House,
upscale places like the Pink House,
and even Paula Dean's place; Lady and Son's
We sampled pralienes at a candy shop before deciding on this
little Mexican Cantina
(always a favorite of mine)

We then headed down to the river front where there were even more
choices to stop and get a drink or shop until you drop.

The stone streets can be treacherous if you've had too many drinks
(or even sober)
Finally, we met up with our Ghosts and Gravestones Tour.
We've taken their tour of Boston and couldn't pass up a thrill in the
cool Southern night.
Pictures were difficult and I decided to enjoy the experience.
We learned about many accidents and murders. We visited homes of
some of Savannah's more famed residents such as 
Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of America)
and of course the home of Johnnie Mercer. 
We also learned of the architecture that graces this cities streets and squares.

These streets along the river front were built with the ballast stones from ships. The ships would come from England with the stones for weight in the bottom and return filled with goods such as cotton, textiles, peanuts, pecans and of course peaches to name a few things.
The ship yards could flood with the tides and hurricanes so they are much lower than the city streets and are accessed by these "historic"(use at own risk) steps.

Sunday morning shown a different light on this enchanted city.
All the partying of the night before gave way to church bells and finely dressed folk 
walking the many city squares.

James Oglethorpe, founder of the city of Savannah would be proud of what I saw on this day.

A city built around squares.
A good way to describe them would be a round-a-bout that is squared off.
Each square then is essentially a city park.
There are now 12 squares in the city as well as a larger park.
These squares make the city confusing to navigate with a car.
But very friendly to a pedestrian.
Even if they look like these two Yankees...

As promised,
here is the home where the murder of Christmas 1981 took place.
The Mercer/ Williams house.
Built by Hugh Mercer, and encompassing an entire city block, Hugh never lived here.
But his grandson Johnnie Mercer did.
And this is where all those wonderful songs were penned and originally played on the 
grand piano inside.

It's a grand home situated on a quiet square.
Thanks to Jim Williams, it was restored after years of neglect.
Today it is a museum 
honoring the great Johnnie Mercer.
And even though the movie is what put Savannah on the tourist map, 
the murder that took place inside is downplayed.

This fountain in Forsyth Park is just blocks from the Mercer House
and is in the opening scenes of the movie.

And here we have more interesting architecture and creative uses for things
 that have no other use today.
We could have stayed and explored this town for days or even weeks. 
But, the original reason for this trip calls us and we must answer that call.
So we loaded up the car once again and headed South.

You know, the funny thing is, in spite of the euphoria one feels upon entering paradise, surrounded by miracles and unimaginable beauty, it gradually becomes all they know, commonplace, ordinary and even shockingly invisible. As beautiful as I found Savannah to be, if I lived there, it would become just that; invisible. 
Each day, we are each surrounded by beauty. We are so fortunate to be living where we do. Perhaps you don't think you can afford to explore the world like I am doing. But you can open your eyes to the beauty that is all around you. Learn about the history that is only steps outside your door. 
Sometimes as I drive past the large hotel near the garage where I keep the hearses, I wonder "Who would come to stay here?" Then I remember just how wonderful this place really is and wonder why there aren't more tourist. History, architecture, murder and discovery have happened everywhere on this earth. 
And it's ours to discover it. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Eat Your Desert First

It was a bitter cold winter day about a year ago. The kind of day that causes a person to ponder why they've chosen to live in a place that makes their face hurt when they go outside. And further question why they have chosen a career that leaves them standing in a blistery parking lot on such a day. I knew then, it would be a long time before the thoughts that were running through my head would come to be a reality. But, I thought them all the same. You see, as surely as mountains are to be climbed and oceans sailed, your dreams are meant to come true. This is why we are here; to live the life of our dreams. Not to be tested, challenged and tried. But to conquer, champion and rule. So, I press on, knowing that the day must dawn when my thirsts shall be quenched and my dreams will come true. Never to settle for less or ever think it's too late. And to never, ever compromise a dream.

When I start planning one of my adventures, I never know how it's going to happen. I just start moving in that direction. I don't worry about the details of how. My only concentration is, what am I going to do when I get there? What wonderful memories will I take away from this adventure?

frozen cliffs
We left home at about 10PM. My apologies to anyone who lives in Ohio, but frankly, that state is flat and boring and I've seen it too many times to count. By starting out at night, we were through O-boring-O and even Kentucky before daylight revealed the frozen cliffs of Tennessee.

We put a lot of miles and a few kilometers on my little car on that first day. We reached our first  destination just before sun down the following day. It was not our final destination. And it was not the destination that I had dreamed of. But, I don't worry about the "hows", I just enjoy the drive. It was a destination that was tacked on like a desert to a great meal. And my grandmother always said to eat your desert first because it's the best part. So we did. That destination was Savannah Georgia.

Over the years we've heard a lot about Savannah.
With it's warm temperature and even warmer Southern charm, it's Spanish moss covered Oak trees and storied past called out to us. It's history of being known as the countries most haunted city, made it a natural place for us to investigate for a few days. Like many people, we fell in love with Savannah after the book and movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" came out in the 90's. It's a true(ish) story of murder in the midst of the elite class in the quaint city in the early 80's.

After a long slumber, we met up with Ed's cousin Mark and his wife Cheryl the next afternoon. Although they are originally from Minnesota, they are living in South Carolina right now and made the drive down to Savannah to join us on this big adventure.

Our first stop, as usual, was a cemetery. Bonaventure Cemetery is where the cities elite are known to be buried. It is featured in the movie and although it has been since moved, is the original location of the bird girl statue that is featured as the cover art for both the book and the movie. While much of the artistry of the tombstones are typical of the times from which they come, there are many unique pieces throughout that draw much attention if for no other reason than their beauty. Set against a backdrop of Spanish moss covered lanes, each families plot resembles a garden of it's own.

 So come along with me for a glimpse of Savannah's history chiseled in stone.

I had never seen a WW1 crest on a grave before. I've only seen them marked as "The Great War"

Many beautiful monuments in this cemetery were made by John Walz and many of them depict women with their bare feet exposed. The faces are actual images of the deceased.

These were four young children's graves where it is meant to resemble a cradle where the child is sleeping. Spring will bring flowers planted in the bed of the grave, covering the child like a blanket.

While John Walz carved elaborate monuments for families grieving their lost loved ones. The only marking at his grave is the step that marks the entrance to his family plot. He said his work for others is enough of a monument for him.

Gracie Watson's monument was also made by John Walz. Poor little Gracie was struck ill and died within 48 hours, leaving her family devastated. Soon after her death, the family moved to New York. She is buried here alone and her grave is one of the most visited in the cemetery.

A draped urn represents the Patriarch of the family.
The wife's grave would typically look like this.

This plot belongs to the Mercer family.
Johnnie Mercer was a well known song writer. His home in Savannah is the setting for the murder that happened in 1981 that is the basis for the book and movie that I mentioned above.
Jim Williams, a well known antiques dealer/ restorer was the owner of the home at the time and was the center of the story.
If you haven't seen the movie, I would highly recommend it.

 Johnnie Mercer was famous for many, many songs. They are listed here on this bench. The words cover all sides of this bench and I am sure that you know most all of them and even more sure that you will be singing at least one in your head after looking more closely.
 In my next post, we will visit some of Savannah's historic city and the Mercer/ Williams home.