Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why would you say that, Emma?

My husband thinks I am a little crazy when it comes to shopping. You will either find me, depending on what kind of mood Im in, at a thrift store Or in (one of my mall favorites)
Ann Taylor. There are days I want to go to a Goodwill and spend an hour sifting through other peoples clothes and happily pay $12.00 for five "nearly new" outfits and other days I want to go to the mall and spend $300.00 on a new suit.

Last weekend we hit the mall to get the girls some new fall clothes. As we passed my dear friend "Ann" husband gave me the "we've already spent too much money today" look. I smiled sweetly, ignoring his expression and grabbed by four year old by the hand and went on in. I instantly saw some darling jeans (that happened to be on sale!) and we were headed to the dressing room.

Don't you hate it when you head towards the dressing room and there are 8 ladies in front of you with their arms full of clothing and you want someone to say, "oh, you just have one pair of jeans to try can go ahead of me and my five outfits..." but that never happens.

My fidgeting side kick and I finally get to our room. As I quickly (I know my husband is checking his watch) get undressed, out of nowhere~this loud Booming voice says...

"Mommy, why don't you have any panties on?"

Now, I don't know what in the world possessed her to say that~because I did!!
I tried to cover up by saying "Why would you say that Emma?"
I have never been so embarassed to walk out of the dressing room with all these ladies in line looking at me like "ewwww....she better buy those jeans......"

The Witch Doctor

Many things can trigger an emotional response. It has been my experience that the one thing that can bring down the house is music. Of course you have your traditional favorites (I can almost sing them to you by heart, off key...) "Amazing Grace", "The Old Rugged Cross", "In the Garden" and oh, lets not forget...."Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die". Yes, I have actually witnessed this song in Oklahoma we have many a cowboy...

A few other interesting choices families have played are:
Friends In Low Places (Garth Brooks)
All My Exes Live In Texas (and this person WAS married four times)
Highway to Hell (ACDC) Yes~I couldnt believe it either
The Witch Doctor

The Witch Doctor will forever be a special one to me because something really odd happened.
I was the director who helped the family plan a memorial service for *Joe*. Very sad situation, motorcyle accident, in his 60's. As I met with his wife she told me his favorite song was "The Witch Doctor". Since my "generation" is summed up with the 80's I wasnt immediately familiar with the song but his sons helped me out with a duet of "oo E oo ah ah, bing bang, walla walla bing bang" I havent heard that song in years! We cleared it with the minister (it was one of his favs too...) and it was to be played for the final song of the memorial service, which was Monday morning 10am.

Monday's are my days off and I typically hang around the house with my two girls. That Monday morning of the memorial service I was in my four year olds room, picking up a few barbies and getting some coloring books out. The thought crossed my mind~"I hope that memorial service is going okay today....." As I hollered at my daughter to come into her room I picked up the t.v. remote and flipped it on. All at once I had a eerie rush of emotion. There, playing on the Disney Video channel (which I didnt even know we had that channel) was

"The Witch Doctor"

The time was 10:25 am~the same time the guys said they played it at the church.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Family Trees

Family trees
All family trees have that special branch that broke off somewhere along the way. When someone dies all the branches come together to cry, laugh, remember and sometimes beat the crap out of each other.
Working with families gets very interesting when they are caught in a family feud. Most the time, it ain't no game show.
As a funeral director you do your best to stay neutral and you never, ever take sides. During the arrangements they will yell, accuse, point fingers and stomp out. Most of the time it's the remaining children that can't agree or just can't stand each other. Sad really.
However, never underestimate the power of creativity when it comes to getting back at one of your siblings.
I was working with two sisters (in their 70's) that were planning a funeral for their mother, Mary. It was clear they did not get along and they disagreed about everything.
One sister lived in town and the other was from out of state. The local sister couldn't stand the other because she told me she was so nosy.
After the service was over the local sister came in to pick up the remaining flowers. I helped her get the plants and flowers in her car. As we were loading the flowers she started laughing. She turned to me and said, "guess how I got back at my sister for all the things she has done to me over the years?"
I didn't know if I wanted to know.
"My sister is so nosy. She has to know everything. So...I sent this beautiful bouquet of flowers to mom along with a special note"
She handed me the card and it said,
"To have and always will be the love of my life." Love , Bill.
I said, who's Bill?
She said..."your guess is as good as mine! My sister will try to fiqure out who Bill is until her dying day. Serves her right."

Ghost pager

For the first three years I worked at the funeral home I was on call at night. We have an answering service that takes our calls aside from our business hours. When we recieve a death call, the answering service pages or calls the director that is to pick up the body and embalm. We then get up, put a suit on and head to the location of death. Most of the time it is the hospital or the home, sometimes it's the scene of a car wreck.
One night~in the middle of the night~my pager went off. I was sound asleep but awoke, turned on the light, and looked at my pager. It was blank~no numbers. I looked at the clock, it was 12:03 a.m. I thought, that was weird. I guess I dreamed that it went off. I went back to sleep.
Just as I drifted off to sleep, the phone rang. It was around 1am. The lady at the answering service said, we have a call in the Via Christi ER. She gave me the name of the person and that the family was waiting. I asked her, did you try to page me earlier? She said no.
I drove to the hospital and found the family in the ER waiting room. After visiting with them for a little while it was time to go to the nurses station and get all of his information and room number.
As I filled out our first call sheet, I asked the nurse for his time of death.
I am not making this up.
She said 12:03

The Birds

There was a young man~in his late 30's~that died several years ago. I'll call him Joe. He had a severe handicap since birth and he had spent most of his life indoors being cared for by his mother. Joe couldn't speak, walk or see but he could hear. He loved listening to his stereo beside his bed. Joe's mother told me that his favorite song was Songbird and they wanted us to play it at the graveside service. She said it always calmed him. Here are the lyrics:
For you there'll be no cryingFor you the sun will be shining'Cause I feel that when I'm with youIt's all right I know it's rightAnd the songbirds keep singingLike they know the scoreAnd I love you I love you I love youLike never beforeTo you I would give the worldTo you I'd never be cold'Cause I feel that when I'm with youIt's all right I know it's rightAnd the songbirds keep singingLike they know the scoreAnd I love you I love you I love youLike never before Like never beforeLike never before
I will never forget his graveside service. It was a bright clear day. The minister started the service with a prayer, then he began to talk about Joe's life. It was at that point, I was to play Songbird. Then the most amazing thing happened.
As the song began to play, we could hear hundreds of birds in the distance. The birds became louder and louder and before we knew it, they were flying directly over the graveside tent. The huge flock of birds was so loud that we couldnt hear the song anymore, all we could hear were the birds. Everyone just looked at each other in shock. Ill never forget the Dad (who was elderly) started crying and shaking his head in amazement.
The birds passed over the tent just long enough for the song to play. I sensed that it was Joe's way of saying goodbye.

Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?

This is one of my favorite funny stories. (In the end, the family found it funny too~or I wouldn't be laughing)
While working in the city we had a service for a man that was pretty young~in his 50's. The family was going to email us the poem for the memorial folders. We recieved the email, from one of the daughter-in-laws. She gave us the songs, soloists and a few other details about the service and then the "poem".
We thought that for a man's service, the lines seemed kind of strange, but if that was what the family wanted~that's what we do.
We printed approx. 250 folders and handed each and everyone of those out at the service to all family and friends in attendance.
I was driving the family limo that day. After the church service we were settled in the cars and about in procession to the cemetery when one of the sons said, "What does this all mean?" I glanced over and he was pointing to the memorial folder. I wasnt sure what he was talking about so I said, "Did we make a mistake on the folders?" He then said, "I didnt send this to you."
Okay, I was starting to sweat. No way did we make that big of a mistake. All at once, a shaky voice from the back (the daughter-in-law that sent us the email) said, "I did".
"I sent that email about the songs and soloists but the sayings below were just my footnotes that are on every email I send"
So the top lines of the memorial folder read like this.....
If men are from mars, why don't they just go home?
Mothers of little boys work from son up to son down
Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?
What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about?
The laughter in the limo that followed greatly calmed my nerves. It's one of those moments where you dont know whether to laugh along with or not. The family said that *Pete* had the greatest sense of humor and they took it as his way of making them laugh.
I can't help but wonder what all those people thought as they were reverently sitting in the pew, quietly reading the folder.


Before moving back to my home town, I served for two years as an apprentice at a funeral home in Oklahoma City. It was there that I met Rosie. The funeral home had a cemetery connected to it and Rosie's husband was buried there.
If I had to guess she was in her 90's. She always had someone drop her off or sometimes she would arrive in a taxi. My desk faced the front glass doors so I would see her in her green coat taking slow baby steps with her cane towards the door.
The first time we talked I didnt quite understand why she was there. I didn't realize at the time she was there to teach me something.
Rosie came to the cemetery every chance she got to visit her husband she had lost several years earlier. She would come back into the funeral home and wait for her ride and thats when she began to talk to me about her life.
She began to tell me about her husband. I'll never forget it, she would say, "Honey, you just know a good lookin man when you see one." I laughed so hard because it doesnt matter how old ya are~that's true, girl.
She would talk about her husband being in the service and all the places they traveled to over the years. She cried when she got to the end of her stories and she would always end our conversation with, "oh, we had such a wonderful life."
It was then that I realized that she wasnt only mourning over losing her husband, she was mourning over losing her "life" too.
At my age I had so many things to look forward to, people to meet, places to see, opportunites everywhere. Rosie had reached a place in her life~a place we all will one day~where all she has to look forward to in her life was the chance to relive those memories by telling her story to someone who would listen.
I try to remember Rosie when I am in a hurry ~running to the store, stressed out because my toddler is screaming that she wants more candy, baby has a dirty diaper~irritated at my husband.... One of these days, these will be the days I'll miss.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thought for the Day~

Isn't having a smoking section in a restaurant kind of like having a peeing section in a swimming pool?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Your Dash

As I was stirring the onions into my sizzling hamburger meat last night for some reason I was thinking about all of the obituaries I have written in the last seven years. It's sad really, the fact that I have to sum up someone's entire life in basically a few paragraphs.

Here are the standard "highlights": born (when and where) parents names, schooling, when, where and who they married, a few hobbies, a sentence or two about what kind of person they were, survivors, preceded in death by and memorial contributions.

It seems that only occasionally I have the privilage to read that life story written by the family~rich with details of memories, adventure, humor and personality.

Why don't we take the time to tell our own story? Maybe it's because we are afraid to. I have had people tell me that they don't want to even think about their own death, fearing that just the forethought alone will trigger it.

Well, one of these days, we will all have our story told. I think this poem says a lot about life and how we live it. Something to think about~

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.He referred to the dates on her tombstonefrom the the end.
-He noted that first came the date of her birthand spoke of the following date with tears,but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
-For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth...and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
-For it matters not, how much we own;the cars....the house...the cash.What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
-So think about this long and hard...are there things you'd like to change?For you never know how much time is left.(You could be at "dash midrange.")
-If we could just slow down enoughto consider what's true and real,and always try to understandthe way other people feel.
-And be less quick to anger,and show appreciation moreand love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.
-If we treat each other with respect,and more often wear a smile...remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
-So, when your eulogy's being read with your life's actions to rehash...would you be proud of the things they say about how you spend your dash?-Author Linda Ellis

Monday, June 11, 2007 I come!

With sadness and a twinge of guilt I have to return to work tomorrow after enjoying many weeks of being home with my sweet newborn. I do have to admit (and this may be the cause of my twinge) I am looking forward to some adult interaction again!

Those of you who stay at home I have a new found respect for you. It is not all about watching Dr. Phil and Oprah (although I did manage to squeeze them in most days)!! Many days were filled with trying to help my three year old adjust to not being the only princess in the house. She would climb on the furniture, chase the cat, spill her drink and stick her tongue out at me when I attempted to carry her to time out. We also had the "pinching" episode in which she swore that the cat pinched baby Kate.

So I will say hello to the snooze button again, squeeze into my suits and slip on the panty hose and high heels. (sigh...)


As I begin this blogging adventure I am somewhat nervous about this first blog. So, how do I begin? It has to be great~being the first one and all! Okay, this is too much pressure...ummm......
Here~that will do. whew! Glad I got this first one over with. Now I have to fiqure this all out.