Saturday, September 29, 2007
It's amazing how I impatiently wait so long just for a vacation to get here, looking so forward to leaving all of my life behind, have a wonderful time while I'm away, yet when I return home I realize that all that I really want out of life is right here. It's good to be home.
This will never prevent me from going on a trip or vacationing in some far off country since while I'm there I enjoy the fantasy of being able to do nothing. But I also get to see the unfulfilled needs of those who live in some of those places; that's sad. Then as reality sets in I realize that I need to get back to where I feel I can be of some service, but also back to bills, back to work, back to stress, back to life.
This has been a long day and I'm going to end here. Tomorrow I'll be reading a weeks worth of great posts that I've missed. Until I write again, goodnight!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Since I will probably not be able to, or in reality, not have the time to post I've taken the liberty of selecting 8 posts of mine that I've written in the past which are my favorites. You know how some of your posts are more special to you than others? Well, some of mine are. You can opt to read them all at once or come back each day and read; that's your choice! Here we go:
Sunday - "Wanted"
Monday - "That's got to hurt"
Tuesday - "Sundrop"
Wednesday - "Brain dead"
Thursday - "Death by Stupidity"
Friday - "United in Death"
Saturday - "Unconditional Love Never Dies"
Sunday - "My obituary - sort of"
I didn't select these based on comments so they may not be your favorites but they sure are mine (but I had more than 8). You may have read them already; I often re-read posts but if you haven't read them yet try not to miss them. I'll be back with something "fresher" when I return! Talk to you all soon!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
All of his life he had always taken care of her to the best of his ability. He had been a welder, never made a tremendous amount of money and was not completely enthused with his choice of generating an income but he had always managed to keep the entire family happy all the while saving for the day when they could go on that long awaited honeymoon they never had. When they were first married, she was reluctant to tell me, she had been pregnant and he barely made an income. The way of thinking at that time was that if you got a girl pregnant it was a simple procedure afterwards; you just got married. This wasn't too hard for them since they had been a "couple" since grade school. This happened in the last year of high school for them both.
As the years progressed, they had more children, his job became a career and they eventually bought a modest home. They had so many plans through the years but they weren't all accomplished, mainly because there were more important things that had to be attended to at the time. As I mentioned in my previous post, plans sometimes have a way of disappointing. The children married one by one and later the grandchildren were born and he continued to work, and work, and work still trying to keep their heads above water as costs rose higher than his income.
He beat the cancer the first go round and the two of them were finally at a point where they felt it was possible and perhaps advisable for them to retire. Most of what he had put away had been spent on their sicknesses but there was still some left; they had been frugal and had managed to amass a nice chunk despite his lower than average income. They now had the time as well as the money to finally go on that honeymoon that was 50 years overdue. The years that they had been married seemed to be full of laughter as well as heartache but they were always deeply in love.
The plans were set and in 5 months, on their 50th wedding anniversary they were finally going. It may have taken them what seemed like an eternity to do it but this was one dream that they were going to see come true and they decided to do it up big.
It was 3 months before they were going to go when he was again diagnosed with cancer. This time the doctors didn't think he was going to be as fortunate as before since this time he had an extremely aggressive cancer that was known to kill and it was in multiple parts of his body. They initially did everything in their power to fight it but it was obvious he was waning. She immediately suggested cancelling the trip since they would need that money to take care of him and still had a chance of getting some of their payment back, she also knew deep down that this was not something he should even be considering in his condition; he refused, telling her he was going, they were going. They had planned their entire life for this moment and nothing was going to stop them. After she had privately expressed her concerns to his doctor, he explained to her that if they could they should try to keep the plans, if for nothing else, to give her husband a "sense of tomorrow" even though he felt it probably would never happen for them; she understood and agreed.
The day they left for Greece he wasn't doing too well but as the day progressed he seemed to perk up a bit; he was actually chipper. The trip had included a cruise around the Greek Islands and they had the largest suite on the ship. Those first few days were the happiest they had spent together in years. She was almost able to forget that she was soon going to lose him. He was acting like he had maybe 20 years prior. In their heads they were young again and felt like they had just fallen in love. They were pampered by the ships crew and the ships doctor had full knowledge of his condition as well as a copy of records. All of their meals were brought to their suite and they ate on their balcony where afterwards they would dance. They had decided that they weren't going to get off at the various ports but rather just spend time together and they reminisced of their past. They laughed, cried, joked about the crazy things that had happened over the years; their life together had been wonderful.
On the morning of day 5 she woke up to find him cuddling her but...he was cold...stiff. From that point on all she remembers is confusion, tears and ship to shore phone calls. We got him home for her and did the necessary things to bury him where she wanted. The funeral was well attended and seemed to be what she had wanted.
Here is what got to me and does every year as I prepare to go on our annual cruise. They had a simple life, they loved each other deeply, and in their darkest moment their love just seemed to strengthen. The story itself isn't exceptional, I know that, this is not some extraordinarily different family or couple, but this is a totally selfless duo here. He was on his death bed and wanted to give her whatever he had left, she was about to lose a lifelong mate and was only concerned for him, not for her loss. This is the inspiration. Love so deep, that the person you're with matters so much more to you than is possibly imaginable. I think I would like to die holding the one I love.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
when all I want is to be with you.
to be at your side all the day through
Why is it that, you just can't stay
Don't give me that crap, about your head
there's nothing left that we can do
the time, the years, they simply flew
Don't give me that crap, our future's not dead
When we first met, we had so many dreams
we knew what we were expecting from life
you wanted a husband, I needed a wife
When we first met, we sipped from our streams
My eyes never left, the movements you made
knowing that you would conquer the dance
watching as you put me in a trance
My eyes never saw, your love starting to fade
What made me so blind, were you playing with me
all of those times when you walked through my door
I thought that you wanted me down to my core
What made me so blind, why couldn't I see
My heart is all blistered, from your burning heat
A fire that I though was burning for me
please tell me you want me, my final plea
My heart is all blistered, you liar you cheat
I thought, I'd given you all that you needed
we blew it, I know it, the music is ending
you're tired of giving, I'm tired of bending
I thought, you would be here while our life receded
So what's the next step, where to from here
I know that I can't keep living with you
the hours we have are numbered and few
So what's the next step, to battle the fear?
by - DS
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Today, however, is going to be one of those days when the majority of my post comes directly from someone else. We subscribe to several "trade journals", one being Mortuary Management, which has a section with News Briefs. I thought that since many people don't even know this publication exists, let alone the content, I figured I'd share some of it. I tried to select some material that may be of interest to some of my readers concerning their somewhat specific slices of this planet.
The San Francisco Bay area is becoming an increasingly popular place to scatter cremated remains.
Funeral director Buck Kemphausen told local media, "There's something calming about the water. You have to say that if there is something spiritual about it, this is one of the most beautiful places in the world to have it done."
The cost for a general sea scattering ranges from $1,145 to $1,580 in Northern California, Kemphausen said, and he charges an additional $895 for a family accompanied scattering in the Bay. The Neptune Society of Northern California said it's rates begin at $295 for a sea scattering not attended by friends or family and go as high as $1,995 for a group of 60.
Many English cemeteries are expected to reach capacity within decades, so to ease overcrowding, the government has approved the re-use of grave sites.
It was only a matter of time before death hit the airwaves. This fall, German TV will begin 24 hour telecasts featuring programming on mourning, cemeteries and obituaries. The programming will be produced by the country's Association of Funeral Directors. "We want the channel to help remove the taboos around death," said Kirstin Gernig, a spokesperson for the association. Reports on centuries old rituals around death, obituaries made by surviving friends and family members, or information on funeral bureaucracy are also on tap.
A woman has filed a lawsuit against English Funeral Chapels and Crematory, claiming the company cremated her husband before she had given permission and either destroyed or discarded his prosthetic leg, which was worth $7,000.
After 20 years of marriage, Jill Testa survived a divorce, but wanted to close the lid on that chapter of her life. So she created the Wedding Ring Coffin to do just that.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
The other day I was busily looking through discussions in BlogCatalog when I came across a question asking if anyone thought that Racism still existed in the United States. There were many responses that both covered the fact that it did exist as well as just as many that thought it didn't. In my opinion too many people are blind to the fact that we are living in a racist country so I decided that I needed to write something. At the time I had no clue that this post would include what it now does; but that will come. However, in 1937 a poem was written by a School Teacher named Abel Meeropel living in New York state who penned it under the name Lewis Allan. It was spurred by his feelings towards the events that were taking place in the South at that time, and from time to time still awfully happen. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to say where I live but that's my problem. Anyway, you may have heard of the poem turned song which was first performed in 1939 in New York's first integrated nightclub. The nightclub was in Harlem and it's name was the Cafe Society; The performer who first sang it was Billie Holiday. The song was "Strange Fruit".
Billie was born on April 7th 1915 as Eleanora Fagan Gough and sang all of her life. On July 17th, 1959, at the age of 44 Miss Holiday, also known as Lady Day died in New York City. She was 5'5" tall with brown eyes, black hair and skin and according to someone I loved who is no longer with us, she was beautiful and sang like no one she had ever heard before; they had met. Billie has become a legendary Jazz singer. U2's "Angel of Harlem" was a tribute to her.
She not only sang this song in 1939 but she also recorded it with Commodore Records, the only label that would allow her to sing "such a song". The song went on to become the anthem of the Anti-Lynching movement and it planted the first seeds of the Civil Rights Movement. It had become a song of protest all around the New York area. It was a haunting song. I first heard it about 40 years ago and even then I thought it powerful. Once it gained popularity it was picked up by other artists however it was known to be Billies song. In 2002 it was one of 50 songs chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. Some of the others that have performed it over the years have been Sting, Tori Ames, Pete Seeger, Lester Bowie and Nina Simone just to name a few.
After I wrote the above piece I was still doing some research to finish it up when I discovered that racism is much more prevalent than I thought. It's true that racism isn't as blatant as it once was, nor does it as frequently involve public exhibitions of it the way it once did but it's still rampant. Miriam-Webster defines the term as "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race". This definition is a simple belief, a belief that I would say I could hear hourly if I put myself in the midst of many people I know. I personally don't choose to interact with these people however there is a huge contingent of them and I am beginning to believe that merely burying my head in the so called sand isn't enough; not for any of us. I had never even considered that true racial problems, not fights between kids, were as widely recognized by the youth of the country as they are. I thought it was an adult problem. Well guess what? In April of this year a poll was conducted with the assistance of the Associated Press and MTV that hit on all major categories of happiness in people between the ages of 13 and 24. On August 21st when AP aired the results of the poll racism was mentioned by these young Americans.
Within the past year, the town of Jena, Louisiana, home of the Jena Six has been in the news and it all seems to have stemmed from the "white tree". I remember thinking to myself, what the hell is a white tree? Then I found out. Jena's white tree is on the property of Jena High School and sitting below it was supposedly reserved for "white" students. Black students who had been given permission to sit under the tree did so, only to come back the following day to find three nooses hanging from it's limbs. Now, was that supposed to be the message that "I" would have read or is it really just "a childish prank" as it was called by local law enforcement? A racial war has been waged in this town with beatings, trials, excuses and jail sentences. For full insight read this blog and research it further if you can't believe it. I couldn't and did; it's real. Just because we no longer have separate bathroom facilities or drinking fountains or seating in theaters, and just because we're no longer allowed to discriminate according to law, and just because the NAACP buried the "N" word within the past months doesn't mean it's fixed. It's far from it and the racism now includes, blacks, whites, asians, indians, arabs and all the rest of the world. Switzerland, the neutralists, they're just as racist as the next guy. This is a big mess we've got going here. There are many, many other instances of racism all over the world and I've come to the conclusion that "I" too have been blind to the terror that this issue evokes in those involved.
I would someday love to be able to say with true conviction that racism is dead but unfortunately right now it's only limping a bit. Billie Holidays song portrays racism aimed at one particular group but ALL races face this problem. This country has taken many great leaps in the right direction but I think we still have a long, long way to go. The worst part is that racism isn't only a problem of the Americans; it's global. So, what does that tell me? It tells me that as long as we continue to fear our neighbors for whatever reason, racism will exist. The post below contains YouTube video with Nina Simone's rendition of the song I learned as a child. I felt that Miss Simone's version was more startling. If you care to, please watch it.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions. And a link to my profile or blog as your interviewer.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
Now the Questions:
1. The death of a loved one can often feel like a right of passage. You mentioned in a much earlier post that your mother's death was the first time death had been personal for you. How did that loss influence your life? Do you think the experience helped you become better at counseling others?
When my mother died, I for the first time in my life actually felt the pain of losing someone that was a part of me. We were close yet I felt as though I had passively neglected her, I should have been more involved. I slowly realized that there was nothing I could do to change the past however I vowed to myself never to neglect anyone again. The people I have in my life aren't going to be here forever, that's if I don't die first, and I believe her dieing has made me more aware of how important today is. We've all heard about the shortness of life and the importance of today but it took her loss for me to heed that "warning" and to truly learn to be empathetic of the people I deal with. I always felt bad for people who lost someone and tried to show empathy but until I had actually experienced the loss of part of myself I think I had been trying to express an emotion that I didn't fully understand. I only wish I could somehow get to people before they need to see me and try to pass this message on. Maybe that's part of what I'm attempting with my blog; I never thought of that before.
2. You face death--in one form or another--on an almost daily basis. How has this influenced your view of life? Do you think being confronted with one of man's greatest fears has given you a deeper appreciation of life, or has it desensitized you? From your writing I would wager the first option.
I hope I'm far from desensitized, life is too important to me; I love to feel. Death sucks, no question about it, but the natural order says that after a specified time when our bodies can no longer maintain themselves they die, unfortunately it most often seems premature to the people that are left behind. Death feeds my family but like most fairly healthy people death is my enemy right now; I certainly don't look forward to greeting it face to face but when it nears I can only hope I'll be ready. I think everyone, excluding perhaps the young, knows that every day is important and that every second of that day should be taken advantage of even though we often waste time. Being exposed to so many different types of deaths so frequently has however put it right in my face. For all I know I won't make it to the end of this interview, but don't misunderstand me, I don't live my life dwelling on the fact that I could die at any second. Whether I am aware of it coming or not it's going to happen, so I just try to live each moment to the fullest and by the fullest I mean the happiest. I'm in no way saying that every moment of my life is filled with wondrous things; nor am I saying I'm always happy but I make a concentrated effort to put myself in that place as often as possible. Sometimes it's filled with nothing, but it's that way because I want it to be; that could be what I need to be happy at the moment. Yes, we all need to be happy. We all need to be loved and to love. We all need to just slow down on occasion and see how much we really have no matter how bleak some times may seem.
3. What do you think is scarier, life or death?
Well Noelle, when you think about it the only thing that scares us is the unknown. Whether it be rats or relationships or fire or being unemployed or heights or death, whatever, the fear is "what if", "what would happen if", "what will it be like", it's the unknown that creates fear. Theoretically, if you look at it this way both life and death can be just as scary as one another, or neither can be scary at all. That's theory, but life is whats scary to me. I don't expect much out of death other than no longer having to struggle with life. As I said earlier I love life but I also know that there is plenty of heartache, pain, struggle and strife that goes along with the good. The thought of that possibility, the what ifs, are what I would consider scary.
4. I would imagine you are allowed a pretty intimate snap shot of a person's life and family when you arrange their funeral. Do you notice a lot of similarities? What has your profession taught you about human nature?
The main similarity I see is that no matter who they are, no matter what kind of life they appear to be leading, they almost always have some sort of secret or problem brewing in their family. Growing up I had no idea that the problems that faced my family were so common but interacting with so many people at a raw, vulnerable time in their life I sometimes hear more than I care to. It's not as if I look forward to hearing these things or coax this information out of people but it seems that when we're together they feel as if they can tell me, a stranger for the most part, just about anything even if it's something that I don't need to know. I often find myself telling people that what they're telling me isn't necessary but the response is usually more info. What I've learned about human nature is that most people deep down are caring individuals who really want to be and do the best that they can yet are entirely unique of one another in respect to their needs. I've also learned that man thrives on understanding and acceptance and will go to unimaginable lengths to try to achieve it. Ultimately, I believe that man and womankind instill awe in me with just about everything that they do. I love people.
5. In your opinion, what is the most important lesson in life we can learn from death?
There are so many! I don't think I can narrow this down to the most important lesson but I'll give you the top few that I can think of. For me I have learned not to neglect, the hard way as you know. Don't take a single second for granted for this might be your last. If you want something within your reach, grab it and savor it now. I literally knew a man who had the "live for the moment" attitude and thought he was nuts until I saw how quickly it can all be snatched away. Live hard. Love hard. Enjoy as much as you can while you can and don't look back.
Thank you for the great opportunity to interview you.
One of your biggest fans! Noelle
Thanks Noelle, that was really soul searching, you're a great interviewer! I'm so glad that I had this chance. Oh, and eveyone else, don't forget, If you'd like an interview "just ask me" - DS