Friday, August 10, 2007

Abe Lincoln

A few weeks back me, Skip, and New FD went to a casket place to hear their schpiel (sp?). They had a BBQ and a traveling road show for sales. I didn't eat and my feet hurt from standing so long and listening. But they did have a lifesize replica of Abe Lincoln's coffin. It was pretty cool. Way smaller than I thought it should be. I guess I always thought of him as really tall and thin, but the coffin didn't seem that long, like maybe a 5'10" person would fit easily.

Anyway. I'm working with a family now whose Dad just died. I did the preneed for the mom and the dad last December. Mr. Z was the president of the local chamber of commerce some years back during our country's bi-centennial. So, he'd grown a beard sans mustache and he looked very similar to Mr. Lincoln. Apparently he liked the look and kept it. At some point he jokingly told his son and daughter that it was actually him, Mr. Z., not good old Abe on the penny. His kids told their friends and soon everyone knew he was on a penny. As his kids grew and had their own children, they were also told Grandpa was on the penny. One of those kids grew and now has two daughters and they are positive Greatpa is on the penny. It's a wonderful thing for kids to think. At the service next week, we'll hand out little envelopes with a shiny new penny in them to all who attend. I think it's a great touch.

The great granddaughters are awesome. They came with Mr. Z's daughter to pick up his urn. Dtr was having a hard time, so I walked out with her carrying the urn inside a velvet bag. The great-gdtrs were waiting in the car. I was so surprised when one said, "What's in that bag, Noelle?" She knew my name. It made me smile. I said it looks like you dropped something out the window. It wasn't my place to say, "Greatpa". So she said, "what's in that bag Noelle has, Gramma?" Her Gramma said, "Buckle your seatbelt". I chuckled. She got into the driver's seat and I handed her the urn. She sat it in the passenger seat and the older girl (9 yrs?) jumped out of her seatbelt and reached up front and knocked on the urn. "What's in there?" Knock, knock, knock. I thought his daughter was gonna die. She looked at me and whispered, "She knocked on Greatpa". I laughed right out loud and then finished a conversation she and I'd been having inside, "yep, that's exactly how God wants us to love Him. Just like a little child full of enthusiasm and curiousity." She smiled and then she knew it was okay for the little girl to knock on the urn. And it was okay.

This is a family of symbols. They don't say good bye, only see you later. And when leaving one another's homes, they wave till they can't see each other any more. The first time they left my office, I stood on the porch and waved till I couldn't see their arms sticking out of the car waving to me anymore. I felt a little silly to be standing there waving with tears streaming down my face, but I didn't care. I just kept waving till I was sure they were gone. I went back inside, wiped my eyes, and went back to work. Next week we, as a chapel full of family and friends, will wave goodbye to Mr. Z after the service as his family carries him out. I'm kind of looking forward to it in a weird way. I've grown to really care about his family, they're just good people.

Today I'm reminded of what an amazing job this is. Getting to share a little part of a family's life in such an intimate way. It's really an honor to get to be a part of their lives even for this short a time.

3 comments:

Sayre said...

In spite of the bad days, it really IS worth it. That family has a really good, healthy attitude about death and all the things that go with it.

Catch said...

You are the perfect person for this job Noel...you care about the families and get to know them and thats just great! Im sure your presence eases a lot of people whp come through there. I think trying to be lighthearted in such times of stress is good for a person.In my job I get to know these people really well....and we usually lose them at some point....and I miss them so much but I think how lucky I was to be able to spend time with this person and get to know them. And I meet all their families and form a lot of new friendships....one of my best friends is a lady I met through taking care of her Mother inlaw.

noelle said...

One neat thing about this family is that death was not talked about and the daughter had a huge hang up about it. After visiting with me and then experiencing her father's death, she's now completely okay with the whole experience. Not that she wants to repeat, but that she's not as freaked out as she was the first time I met with them.

It is pretty neat to share a portion of someone's life and then to have friendships out of it. I've not gained friends yet, Catch, just acquaintances, but I'm sure that someday I'll be able to say that one of my best friends is someone I met by taking care of her family member. What an honor that must be!