Tuesday, December 19, 2006


My son and his wife and their two boys were here today. Only my daughter-n-law had been here before, not the others. Their oldest boy was two last September. He's been a story teller for about a month now. Able to string several sentences together to get his point across. Usually it's stories about motorcross racing. "My daddy racing motorcycles. I racing. I fall down. I crying." Or my daddy falls down and he's crying, some variation of this story is what I've heard him say before. Today he wasn't here but a couple minutes before he started asking about the baby crying. Why is the baby crying. We were in the hospitality room eating crackers and cheese. He looked up towards the ceiling, smiled, and said, "He's smiling at me." Then he became obsessed with the baby who was crying. He went out of the hospitality room, straight down the hall, and to the door to the back, which was locked. He was mad cuz his mom wouldn't let him in. He came back to the hospitality room, but still wouldn't let it go. He kept saying the baby was crying, then he went to the door at the back of the hospitality and tried to get in the back area. Finally I said I would take him back there because he was getting upset at the baby crying. His mom told him the baby's mom would take care of him. I told him Jesus was taking care of the baby. He didn't care, he wanted to see the baby himself, so it could stop crying. He wanted to hold it, like he holds his baby brother. It was weird. We went in the back and he stood by the refrigerator and pointed to the top of it. He was saying baby up there. Then he ran to the outside back door and said the baby went out it. All from a two year old perspective, all freaking my son out completely. My daughter-in-law didn't seem to mind, she believed he was really hearing a baby. I have no reason to doubt it. I told my manager about it when he came over to bring me a Christmas ham. He thought it was very interesting and he right away thought of the urn I found back there of a baby who died in the early 1900s and we just recently had it buried. I hadn't even thought of that baby. My manager said that the first time he sees something, he's done with this industry. It made me laugh. The whole incident made me curious.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

power outage in a funeral parlour

I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. Losing power in here is not fun. It is completely unnecessary and need not happen again. Huge storm today. Lights flashed once, then again, then finally went out. It was DARK in here. Phones didn't work either. I locked the front door and was walking to the back (thru the DARK) to get to the flashlight (DUH, why do we keep it back there???) when the door between the hospitality room and the back room closed. What??? No one's here but me, so moments before i was just annoyed at the darkness, only now my heart is pounding and my mind is racing and it's all I can do to open the door. The alarm is beeping, so I gotta go back there, stop the beeping and call the company before they send out the calvary. I was a little shaky, ok very shaky, but mostly pissed with myself for reacting so immaturely. I doubt that dead people care if lights are on or off and I really doubt that spirits have been waiting the whole time I've worked here for a power outage so they could finally get me! But still, I was shaking. I go in the back and there stands Skip in his finest embalming regalia cussing the alarm and trying to make it hush. I was startled and very pleased to see him there. We silenced the alarm. Got the flashlight, lit some candles (it's a funeral home, we do have plenty candles) and had a seance. Not really, no seance. Just hung out for forty-five minutes till the lights came back on. We sat in my office and both could have easily dozed off. I know I'm still having a hard time staying awake. It wasn't so bad with the lights off in here. I'm glad there were no families in here at the time. I could imagine how that would freak them out entirely! Guess I better get a little work done!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Party, the day after

The party was fine. Bearable. I panicked at the last minute and stopped to buy a new jacket on the way home from work. Absolute last minute, I decide I have nothing to wear. Why did I care and why did I wait till the last minute to care? I brought home two jackets and told Steve to pick one. He was mildly amused, I think.
I have a bit of a headache. Only two drinks, but I didn't specify a brand, so I'm sure I got the cheap vodka. My system is not used to drinking, much less drinking cheap alcohol. Sigh.
I think Steve was disappointed to not hear any shop talk. There was some at the other end of our table, but he was engaged in another conversation and I don't believe he heard it. i'm glad, cuz it was the re-hashing of yesterday's service, which was for the mom and two sons. I guess it was one of the worst Schewan has ever been to and apparently the other directors felt the same.
Anyway, the party is over. The thanks have been said and only a slight headache remains.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

company Christmas parties

Our Christmas party is tonight. Steve only wants to go so he can tell his coworkers about it. He's hoping for good stories, I know he is. Skip was sitting across the desk from me cleaning his fingernails with a paperclip. He looked up and without even the hint of a smile said, "Gotta clean the blood out before the party, it upsets some people when they're eating." It dawned on me that he sits there often, cleaning his nails. It also dawned on me that even though no one wants to go to this party, they all are getting pretty excited about it. I don't even know what i'm wearing yet, guess i should have given it some thought, especially since the owner's wife was a Nordstrom buyer before she came to the funeral home. Skip says we have to go cuz the owner takes it personally if anyone doesn't attend. He said you don't get your ham if you don't go. He was laughing, but he said it's true, they won't give you any gift at all if you don't go. Small companies, grr. The part i'm looking least forward to is the gift exchange. It's where you take some stupide gift and then everyone picks from under the tree or else they take someone's gift who already took from under the tree. I don't want to have to go up to the tree and I don't want to take anyone else's gift. I hate that part. I just don't want to go, period.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First calls

I had a doctor's appt, an annual. I joined the mamogram-a-year club, boy when did I get this old? Steve thinks it's funny. I think he's past due for a prostate exam. My appointment wasn't far from a hospital where we had a first call. So we decided, Schewan and I, that I would go on the first call after my appointment. I was brave, it'd be okay. After my appointment, I called her to see if he was released yet and if I could pick him up. She checked. I hoped he wouldn't be ready. She called me back. He was. My heart was racing. She said she told them it was my first time and that I might be a little emotional. I was supposed to go to the floor he was on instead of to the morgue, they thought it'd be easier for me. I picked up the phone for admittance to the ward. I could barely say who I was and why I was there. I was okay again once they let me in. I waited for the Decedent Affairs Coordinator to arrive. She said she didn't want me to have to take him throught the hospital, so he was going to the morgue afterall and she would go with me and we'd pick him up there together. "Noelle," she said, "he was very sick and he's so much better off right now. He was born with all his organs on the outside." He was only a month old and I never actually saw him. We went to the morgue. I was shaky and hoping to not pass out. She was calm but chatty so that I would be more comfortable. I could smell the morgue as soon as we stepped out of the elevator. I never knew this scent before and probably regular people would never recognize it. Does that mean I'm not a regular person now? Two young men from the transportation department were there, but they forgot to bring the baby and I didn't understand for a moment why two of them came and the bassinet was empty. Couldn't together they figure out to bring the baby with them. Then she opend the cabinet underneath the bed and took him out. He was, of course, in a plastic bag, not just in a baby blanket burrito like I was somehow expecting. I opened my little blanket and she put him in. I wrapped him up. I didn't know which end was his head and which was his foot. It didn't matter, as i covered the plastic, wrapped him like a Christmas present, and called him by name as I pulled him to my chest. It wasn't until we were in the elevator that I realized I hadn't checked his toe tag. What if I had the wrong baby? I had to open the blanket. Luckily, he had a tag on the outside of his bag and it was him, the right dead baby. I buckled him into the front seat of my car. As much as you can buckle in a 2 pound baby in a plastic bag, wrapped up like a Christmas present on the way to the funeral home. I drove so carefully on my way back to work. I couldn't imagine getting into a wreck and having him go flying. I didn't sing to him or talk to him, well only once to say we were going now. I carried him into the building. I put him in the refrigerator. Wrote his name on the log and came back up front to my desk. Schewan asked how I was and I was okay.

I was waiting and waiting and waiting for Logan to get home from daycare that night. And when Danielle brought him in, I hugged him. And then the tears came.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Family deaths

Brother, 63, heart attack. Sister, 59, cancer. Died within three days of each other. Mother is 87, poor dear. Double memorial service coming up this weekend, yuck.

I went into the prep room yesterday to get the dirty laundry for the cleaning service. Aargh. Mom is early 30s, son 11ish, and younger son 6ish. Skip embalmed them the day before, so they were just laying on tables waiting to be casketed. Car wreck took them all. Huge services for them in a couple days.

My daughter is mad at me. She sort of moved back out. I'm glad, I wanted her to move out, she's 22 with an almost 3 year old, she needs to move out. But not when she's mad and pouting and running away. She just doesn't get that this is a temporary gig. We don't know how long we have, and she's gonna piss it away cuz I don't like her boyfriend? She's so spoiled, thinking the world revolves only around her, my goodness, doesn't she get that today, right here, right now, that's all we're guaranteed? Most people don't get it. Half the time I don't get it. But the other half, man, there's an urgency which I never experienced before this job. An urgency not for things, but for relationships. I want my children to know how much I love them. How amazing each of them is. I don't want to die and leave any of them wondering if they were acceptable to me. I don't want them sad at my funeral because I left unsaid anything I should've said. I want them to know my heart and my happiness in them. I want them to live each day knowing they are my best contribution to this world, all five of them. My daughter is mad and I don't know how to fix it yet and it feels so empty not connecting with her right now.

If you're reading this and you know me, then you're reading it because I care about you. There's only a handful of you who I sent the link to, so I can picture each of you now. You are important to me. You have offered me your friendship and I'm so glad to share a part of your lives. Even if life has taken us on different paths, we're still sharing a part of ourselves, and I'm glad for it. My life is richer because of each of you. Thank you for listening to my ramblings, even when they take a somewhat odd turn as they have today.

I've never seen a momma and her boys on cold steel tables before. It's made me a little mushy.

My biggest compliment

Skip: "I think you do good at what you do up there for someone who's never been around the work."

I don't know if he could have given me higher praise. I'm smiling inside.