Tuesday, July 11, 2006

young man

He's 18. His body is broken in many places after the car he was a passenger in was hit by a train. He was embalmed, but he's decomposing rapidly as the fluids couldn't travel to all parts of his body. Normally we're embalmed from one or two places, he was "injected" (i dont know what they call it) from seven points. No less than four funeral directors have worked on him, so that his family could see him. He smells so bad. His viewing time was decreased from two days to one hour and there is real fear on the part of Schewan that an hour is too long. During the last round of his reconstruction and makeup, the decomposure was much too evident. That's all I have to say about that. Well, actually i have alot to say and probably no one ever reads this but me so i could just let it out yet i'm hesitant. Funny how this started as a place for me to say what i need to say but now i don't want to because sometimes its too horrific for anyone else to read. it's weird.
His dad came into my office. Angry, beligerent, demanding explanations for the reduced viewing time. He closed the door to the entrance of my office. I closed the back door, now i was sure no one could hear. I told him that we knew how important it is for the family to be with their son and how difficult it was for us to say they couldn't spend more time with him and that there wouldn't be time for his friends to get here. I said that God was taking "Young Man" home faster than we were able to keep him here. I carefully explained how much work had gone into the restoration and how it wasn't slowing down the process of death. He was somewhat appeased when he went back out.
Can't they see what's happening? Would I be just as blind if it were my own child?

Monday, July 10, 2006


So, it's pretty rare for me to get freaked out in here, but today seems to be the day. I don't know why. Maybe it was something Steve said about how weird it is to him that someone is surrounded by their family when they die and then an hour later they're lying on a cold steel table amidst strangers. Two here now, within a couple hours of their deaths. Or maybe it's that the dang door has opened and closed a couple times today and it's bugging me. There's one door between the front and back areas that sometimes opens and closes. Maybe fifteen times since I've worked here, usually when I'm here alone. Once when Tom was here with me, we both thought Skip had come back over to embalm someone, then no one ever came forward. We ignored it like we hadn't both just said "I didn't know Skip was back". Just went on with our conversation like we hadn't heard a thing.
I was in the back with Mrs. R. She was cremated a year ago, but her daughter brought her back today so I could seperate her into three small keepsake urns before they spread the remainder next weekend. I kept thinking I heard noises in the prep room. It's impossible, I'm sure, well unless it was that outgasing thing. Anyway. I didn't finish seperating Mrs. R. I came back to my desk.
Whew! A funeral director got here from the other home. That nervousness only lasted about fifteen minutes and it's over. yippee.

Monday, July 03, 2006


So I did a lady's hair about a month back. Haven't been writing much in here. Some of it is boring, some too gross, some too personal. The lady had one braid down the back and her family wanted a more sophisticated look. I took out the braid, ha!, way easier said than done. I tried to turn her head to get to the hair in the back. It wouldn't turn; stiff, looking straight ahead. I ended up pulling it out from under her. She was in her late 90s and the tiniest little thing, but I couldn't move her. Her hair was sparse and pretty kinky, curly. I used a curling iron to straighten it. I touched her forehead with the iron and then panicked, first cuz I automatically thought I'd hurt her, duh, and then because I didn't know if her skin would just melt. It freaked me out. I yank out her braid, then I brand her forehead! yikes. I was trying to be so gentle, it didn't work. She looked very nice in the end and her family was pleased.

retirement and a new funeral director

Tom officially retired last Friday. He's here doing a service today, because he said he would. It's nice to have him here for another day. The new funeral director is a woman, let's call her Szechwan. She's into Feng Shui (sp?) and on her first day she started moving furniture around to create better energy. What??? I don't know how it'll be to work with her. I should ask the manager why everyone keeps apologizing when they find out she's Tom's replacement. I think they put her here from the other funeral home, because she was making people mad over there. Great. I'm trying to keep an open mind. Trying.
Today's service is basically just a chapel rental by another funeral home about 75 miles from here. They did all the work and then came here for the service and burial. It's a great way to do a service, very little time involved on our parts and I get to meet new directors. Stan lives in a smaller community, but went to mortuary school in San Francisco. He reminds me completely of a friend of Steve's who died in March, so that's a little weird. Before the family got here, we were swapping fun stories (not that i have many yet). He had a client named Mr Lynch, who hanged himself. One of his teachers in San Francisco was named Mr. Grimm. He's a funny guy. He's one of my favorite directors yet. He speaks very eloquently, as if confidently exuding good breeding. Fantastic suit, perfectly manicured nails, salt and pepper (mostly pepper) hair in a stylish cut, bea-u-tiful shoes. I'd expect him to be a banker in a large city rather than a funeral director in a smallish city. He's probably a couple years older than me, but he sure makes me want to pinch his cheeks cuz he's so adorable. (facial cheeks, clean it up some). Anyway, it's uncanny how much he reminds me of Russ, well Russ minus Marine attitude.
Ok, I'm back, not that you knew I was gone. Had to sign for cremains from the crematory guy. Another super nice person, there seems to be an abundance of good folk in this industry. I like that.
Last week we had an open house/retirement party for Tom. It was enjoyable as far as work functions such as that go. A good turnout, nicely catered, except the crab dip was WAY too salty. Tom was pleased, he seemed somewhat humbled when he gave his little speech. It was nice. I'll sure miss him. I don't know how it'll go with Szechwan. Tom taught me whatever he thought I should know and then some, she seems more like an information hoarder. We'll see. I keep saying that.