Saturday, September 29, 2007


Since I usually write about occurrences that take place in my day to day work, this post is not going to be typical since I just got back today. As I've said, I was looking forward to relaxing and that is almost just what I did. I ate like a pig, drank like I usually don't, did the duty free thing, visited a couple of old haunts, met lots of people, enjoyed the variation of the colors of the water, was blessed with a beautiful case of sun poisoning all over my balding head, met more people, ate and ate some more, participated in a Relay-For-Life walk for breast cancer at sea, got to see Key West for the first time and spent a good portion of the week just laying in the breeze on our balcony, and I can't forget late nights in the casino. All in all I had a great time...but...I'm glad to be home.

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

Someone, please watch the store!

Beginning tomorrow I have the "luxury" of getting away from all of it! For the next 8 days I don't have to think about anything but having a good time and I'm so, so glad. Every now and then I need some time away from my life so that I can do the things that will bring me back to where I need to be.

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

Hey mister, turn around!

She called it a "Frontal Meningioma". About three weeks ago a woman came in to discuss cremation arrangements for her 79 year old mother.

At the time she explained that her mother had a tumor of sorts in her brain and it had caused her to have a stroke. She was residing in an assisted living facility and had been for the past three years. She was not expecting her death right now but felt this was a good time to discuss what would take place once she did.

She died 2 days ago and I met with the daughter and her husband again yesterday. This was not a tearful conference; as a matter of fact the daughter of the deceased proclaimed that she was happy her mother had passed. She went on to tell me that her mother would not have wanted to be alive in the current condition she was in. Since we had spoken she had yet another stroke which left her completely immobile.

We were talking about her mothers condition when she said something that caught my attention. Apparently, her mother, before her diagnosed illness was a very staunch, prim and proper woman who barely cracked a smile even though she was a kind person. She had always professed to her daughter that boisterousness was not something a man would be attracted to; not ladylike. She was proud of the fact that she had always maintained composure no matter what the situation, she was in fact a true "southern" lady.

The doctors had explained the type of tumor to the daughter and further explained that where it was located could and probably would affect her personality. According to the daughter, as this tumor grew, her mother became a different person. The once highly polished lady became what her daughter considered " a dirty little child " overnight. She would think nothing of telling the crudest jokes at the most inopportune moments. All of a sudden she thought belching and farting as loud as possible, anywhere, was hysterical. She would point and outwardly make fun of people everywhere they went, she would say things like "look at the size of that woman's fat ass" or "she needs to put a bra on, her tits are at her belly" - LOUD! She also got into the habit of randomly pinching men and none of this bothered her mother at all; she loved it! Quite honestly, as she was telling me this I was inwardly laughing, picturing this 79 year old woman asking the deli man to pull her finger or asking him to turn around so she could squeeze his butt!

After all was said, done and signed and they had left my office I was sitting there doing paperwork when I thought to myself "where did this all come from?". Was it possible that just a small change in our brains cell structure could alter a personality so greatly? Or was all of this pent up inside of her, latent, just waiting for the chance to let itself loose? Does this mean that one persons brain is capable of anything if just tweaked a bit? Does this mean that each of us has the capacity to be a genius or a rapist or a stand up comic or crazy old lady? If that's the case what makes us who we are? Are we all predestined to be "us" from the time our brain first forms? Does this mean that we have no control over what we do because we're already pre-programmed for a life that we will never know until it happens? Who the hell knows.

I'll tell you though, invariably, every time I sit down with someone to make arrangements, no matter how mundane it may seem at first I always end up walking away shaking my head wondering about something; sometimes giggling inside at the same time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

" Y "

Why do we feel we need to know "why"?

I don't know about you but I spend a great majority of my time thinking and asking one little word. Why? The word that every parent dreads their child learning, the word that often times never has an answer, the word that is sometimes better left unsaid yet is asked over and over.

There are so many things unanswered in this life that we lead and for some reason "I" feel the need to know those answers. Like a child, even when I get an answer, especially if it's one that I don't particularly like, I again ask why. I've always been inquisitive and I'm sure to some it must seem as though I'm never satisfied. Maybe I'm not. But I want to know, I feel I need to know.

I guess if everything that we experience was entirely reasonable there would be no reason to ask why; but so many things aren't and probably never will be. What is it they say, curiosity killed the cat? What the hell does that mean? I think I'd rather chance it all by being curious than to walk around with my head in the clouds accepting everything as it is, never wondering. Why do you think that is?

Just a thought.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bodacious Blogging award presentations

The results are in and I'd like to announce in no particular order who the recipients are! Julian Bennett honored me with his very own "Bodacious Blog" award and I now want to pass it on to some blogger buds who I feel deserve it.

She has several blogs...each better than the next

That stately English lass from the land of sauce

Deep thinking and not as Angry as she looks

Tells it like it is...makes ME think

My first blog pal who let me know I was more interesting than a lamp

Thanks for being who you are, each and every one of you!
Please feel free to pick it up in my sidebar!

Cremation Memorials

I found this today and thought I'd share it with you. This is stuff I've never seen or heard of looks really different and nice.


50 Fathoms of Love

Every year for the past five years or so, at this particular time of the year especially, a family that I served always comes to mind. This specific family has flavored a great deal of my thinking when it comes to the finalization of my life. I know I am majorly concerned with the experiences a family has to endure after the death of a loved one but rarely do I ever mention the actual feelings of the deceased prior to the cessation of their life. It's true I am always thinking about and relaying stories of how families cope after the fact but hardly do I ever explain what went on before I've met them in my arrangement office. The story that follows may seem trite to some but I for one find it to positively inspiring.

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

Change in plans

Well, it looks as if another summer is gone. The leaves of some trees are beginning to fall, the sunflowers in the yard across the way have their heads hung as though ashamed, and with the passing of each day the sun is setting earlier and earlier. Soon the warmth will be gone, replaced by the coldness and dreariness of winter. When winter is here, I look for spring, when spring is here I look forward to summer, when the heat of summer becomes too hot to bear I look for the fall, and when fall arrives I look forward for the end of falling leaves and raking only to realize that it's winter again and I want spring back. It seems as though no matter what I have, even down to weather, it's not exactly what I want or expect. But seriously, who am I kidding? Why should I expect anything?

No matter what I've been raised to believe, no matter what I've read or heard, no matter what I wish, I have no control over what goes on around me nor do I have much control over what life does to me. I'd like to believe that I have the power to make things happen and if you've ever listened to motivational speakers, you're aware that they want you to know that you, yourself, hold the reins of your destiny. They want you to think that your life is the way it is simply because you made the choice for it to be that way. Is this really true though? As time goes on I am beginning to believe that I have the capability to make the attempt but no, I don't believe I have the power to make anything happen; good bad or indifferent.

Is this a bad thing though? Would I be better off having a map of my life that I could follow exactly and know that on January 17th in ten years I will be at a place where I want to be? It might be nice in a lot of respects but I don't think at this point I even know where it is I would like to be. And even if I did, who's to say that someone else wouldn't change something and prevent me from being there. So in this case what just happened to all my plans, all of my expectations, all of my supposed needs? Gone. Gone in the time it takes for a leaf to let itself loose from a tree branch and hit the ground. Your life could be changed, sometimes forever. So is planning for more than the present worth the possible disappointment of a totally different tomorrow?

I guess I have to continue to plan for tomorrow however these plans have to be totally amendable since they are after all just plans, no guarantee involved. And if I don't know where I want my life to be in 10 years, that's OK, because if my body allows me to live that long, whether I want to be there in 10 years or not, I'll be somewhere and I can only hope that I'll be happy with that locale at that time. And if I'm not, I'll just plan again and hope for the best, knowing full well that I'll be happy if any of those plans come to fruition at all.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Don't ask me why...

Sometimes I feel as though I'm writing the same story over and over and over, but I can't help keeps happening over and over and over and I swear as long as I walk this earth I'll never understand why it is that we can so easily just....kill ourselves; this is so frustrating.

Once again, a child has just thrown logic out the window, simple logic, common sense logic that we're reminded of constantly. A rule if you will, put in place for our safety to prevent this very thing from happening. I know, I know, we all break rules, young and old alike but the rules that are generally broken some how seem to benefit the breaker even if it's only in their own mind. This maybe 4 to 5 second procedure would have prevented me from writing this post today. It would have prevented the horror and grief that her parents and friends now have to face. Ultimately, it would have prevented her death. What did saving this instant in time help? It's really more common sense than a rule.

Does it make sense to ANYONE to walk out in front of speeding vehicles? Does it make sense to ANYONE to walk to the edge of a roof and try to hop around the perimeter of a building? Does it make sense to ANYONE to dive into a 50 foot deep pool of water knowing full well you can't swim? Of course not, none of this makes sense to the thinking individual, besides, these things are almost prepostorous, unheard of. But why then, should it make sense to ANYONE to speed down a pitch black, curvy road, no matter how well you know it, not wearing a seat belt? It doesn't make a bit of sense either but these brilliant children of ours obviously don't see this.

She was 16, just left her boyfriends house to go home, she was speeding, no seat belt, lost control on a curve and wound up in a field about 100 yards from the truck that she was driving. The truck had flipped, throwing her out to her death, and the police say she's dead because she had no belt on. When she hadn't come home as expected her father called her boyfriends house looking for her and was told she had left for the 5 minute trip home over an hour before. He called her cell phone; no answer. He went looking for her, only to discover her empty truck in the field where it had rolled to a stop. He thought she had walked away unhurt. On his way back to his car he called her again on her cell but this time he heard it ringing! He followed the ringing and before he got to it, he found her; crumpled, broken, bloody...dead. Her family is shattered. The community is hurting.

Please make no mistake, I am in no way bashing this poor child. I know that things like this can and do happen in an instant, the blink of an eye, and I know she had absolutely no intent on this being the outcome of her 5 minute drive home. I know if she now had a chance she would reverse all of this for her sake as well as for the sake of all that love her. However, what I find incomprehensible is why we continue to let this happen to ourselves. We need to at least think about the possible outcome of every decision we make before we act on it, big or small, no matter how minor it may seem. Minor can and often does lead to major, and major hurts like hell, especially to those left with that one word question, "Why?" Why indeed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Award # 1 really - I missed it

I was over talking to Joo when he mentioned that he had given me another award (last week I think) which I wasn't aware of. Once again I want to thank you Julian and I'm glad I made you feel that way - but I was only reciprocating!

Celebrate? About what?!

Holidays? Marriages? Births? Anniversaries? What is it that we really have to celebrate about in this life anyway? So much shit is going on around us and in our lives constantly that it often feels impossible to want to celebrate anything. Big deal, maybe there's a dozen days in a years time, if we're lucky, when we figuratively find it in ourselves to want to break out the party hats and pop some champagne. What's all the excitement about?

The answer although rarely followed through and mostly forgotten is simple. Every day should be a celebration of something. Here we are, free for the most part, in reality able to accomplish just about whatever we want, given opportunities that others only dream about, free to speak with the world, yes the world, just by typing some words. Is that not enough cause in of itself for a celebration?

If you're reading this, you're alive, you probably have already eaten something today, at the very least you may have had some of that flavored coffee that you so love; with that flavored creamer. You have clothes to wear on your back, ones you've chosen, not forced to wear, you have a roof to live under whether rented or owned, you have enough expendable cash to pay your ISP and we can't forget that Notebook you're considering!

Here, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the squirrels are running up and down the trees chasing each others tails. The air is sweet. There are some that have nothing, living in squalor, worried about where their next meal will come from, worried for their lives, worried if that baby they're carrying in their womb will ever have a life at all. Easy for me to say but let's face it, in reality it could always be worse, so why not...celebrate! I for one should be celebrating my life daily. Most of us should be. We all take so much for granted; each of us.

Just the fact that we're alive, still walking around, still above the good old Terra Firma should be a reason to stand up and shout. We have love, we have friendships, we have pets, we have so, so much. We need to be grateful for it while we've got it; life. It offers so much if we only look for it. Today may seem like a dark and gloomy day with absolutely no reason to celebrate anything. Just think, tomorrow, today will be over, we now have another clean slate to work with...celebrate! We're alive, our bellies are full...celebrate! We have a friend, someone who cares...celebrate! I know that tomorrow's just a dream for all of us right now, but, no matter how black it may seem, I try to look for some good. It aint always there, but hopefully tomorrow is...another day and another reason to celebrate!!!!! I'm going to give it a shot; how about you?

My First Award!

I was the recipient of my first blog award today. Julian Bennett over at Hippocampus Hi-Jinx bestowed the following honor on me. When I first saw it I couldn't help but wonder why Julian thought I was bodacious - after all, the expression "bodacious bod" came to my mind. Now if it had said Bodacious Blob, I would have thought he may perhaps know me satisfy my curiosity I went to Webster, my pal, and this is what he had to say about Bodacious. Now that I know the full meaning of the word (and i hope I've selected the right usage!) it makes more sense...Thank You Julian! My blog will proudly wear this badge!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alone it me?

Why is it that, you must go away,
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
We once were so happy, that's now in the past
perhaps it was only I who felt it
and never saw it was only a skit
We once were so happy, til you shed your mask

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

September 11, 2001

The day our world changed. The day we all became one; we saw a piece of what the rest of the world has dealt with for eternity; we felt the pain.

I used to live in New York, I worked in the trade center, my father worked in the trade center, my wife worked blocks away, my brother worked uptown, I had numerous friends who worked in the trade center.

When this world shaking event took place, all of my family but my brother was gone from the area. Many of my friends weren't. Some of them died that day.

It was the beginning of true fear right here in our country. You no longer had to be a soldier to fear the possibilities that the enemy could be right around the corner, lurking, waiting to trap and kill you. Thousands of our kinsmen died that day. I knew that this sort of stuff went on all over the world but I never imagined in my wildest dreams that we'd see it here, in our own backyards so to speak.

So many people are still feeling the effects of that day and will continue to for the rest of their lives. My family was lucky. We weren't hit with it, yet so many others were; lives shattered, fathers lost, mothers gone, children just disintegrated into nothing. All the dreams these families had were no longer the same. They no longer hoped for what they wanted the hour before it all happened. Many were hoping for months, years, to see the face of their loved one(s) whether it be alive or charred or crushed, they needed to see.

Whoever orchestrated this took not only lives, they took spirit. For a short time they took the very essence that made us who we are.....people......But through all of the horror, all of the grief, all of the tragedy we rallied. We banded together as one. Never in my life had or have I felt the patriotism that I felt during that time. But.......we sadly forget. Sure every year around this time of this month I'll remember 9-11 but what about the rest of the year. I have to honestly say that of course I'm aware of it, sure I still hear the names in the news but the feeling, the terror, I had when this first happened isn't there. I'm sure it is for the ones who actually lost someone but for me, one that didn't, the feelings are numbed. Perhaps I should be grateful that the fear is numbed but the patriotism isn't - It's still in each of us.

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted. — D.H. Lawrence

At this time I want to bow my head and say thank you to all of the people who helped get this country through that period. I want to thank all of the soldiers who have been spending their lives trying to do what their country has asked of them. It may not be of my opinion that it's been handled correctly, but I'm here, they're there. I have comfort, they have none. I worry about the cost of tires for my car and they worry if they're going to be killed; a little different huh? To the survivors of the innocent I want to express my sorrow and wish that you have been able to pick up the pieces of your lives. To whoever did this, sorry, but I wish you nothing good. What was really accomplished besides wreaking havoc on innocents both here and I'm sure some there?

Local, Worldwide & Loco news

Ordinarily, the posts I write come directly from my head. Of course the information stored in my brain has come from somewhere else but everything you have read here with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions has been in my own words; they were examples.

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.
Bay area a favorite for scattering
San Francisco, California
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.
Senator advocates new Tissue disposal method
Albany, New York

Should the law allow human remains to be flushed down the drain? One State Senator believes so.
Kemp Hannon has introduced legislation to institute a process called alkaline hydrolysis under the states definition of cremation. The process uses a solution to "digest" organic matter into a gooey substance that can be safely dumped into the sewer system. It is advocated by teaching hospitals as a way to dispose of research cadavers and other waste human tissue.
Opponents are dubbing the bill "Hannibal's Law" due to it's gruesome nature. Hannon says his bill is only intended to give teaching hospitals an inexpensive means to dispose of human remains that they must now cremate.
Re-Use of graves approved
London, England

Many English cemeteries are expected to reach capacity within decades, so to ease overcrowding, the government has approved the re-use of grave sites.
England and Wales are expected to run out of burial space in 30 years, although urban areas may run out of room sooner. According to the government, London itself is 12 years away from reaching capacity.
Re-use would be permitted only where graves were 100 years old and permission of the family has been sought; approval would not be necessary if the family could not be contacted. Cemetery managers are currently allowed to exhume old remains, deepen a grave and rebury the remains, leaving space on top for a second corpse.
Despite Cremation rates of more than 70 percent, Britain buries about 150,000 people a year.
Death Channel to begin Telecasts

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.
"We don't want to proselytize," said Gernig. "We want to provide information so people know everything that is involved." The channel will be partly funded by obituaries that can be commissioned or produced by loved ones, and an ethics advisory board will supervise the programming.
The channel is scheduled to begin broadcasting on satellite and on the Internet in November.
Lawsuit filed in Prosthetic Leg Mishap

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.
The funeral home claims the deceased did not have any prosthetics.
DeeDee Strimas says that if they had washed and prepared his body for cremation as they claimed, they would have noticed his artificial leg. In addition to the cost of the leg, the widow is seeking $10,000 for emotional and physical distress.
Cemetery Drug ring Uncovered
Two suspects were arrested in a cemetery for manufacturing illegal drugs with a street value of more than $3 million.
A total of 220 kilograms of crystallized ketamine and semi-finished products were seized after a lengthy investigation, plus production equipment. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic for veterinary use and is in the same family of drugs as PCP.
The suspects said they thought no one would suspect that a drug-producing operation would be located in a cemetery, especially if they worked late at night.
Here's a special one..............................................

Box Buries Old Marriage Vows, Ring
Manhattan, New York

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.
She and her brother sell the six inch by 2 inch wood caskets to house and bury wedding rings. Brass plaques can be added with sayings such as "Bury the Past and Move on to a New Tomorrow" and "Six Feet Isn't Deep Enough." The split-lid, velvet-lined boxes sell for $29.95 and are available at

These are just a smattering of what's in this edition. Forgive me if you've heard any of this before. Some might be interesting, some might seem ridiculous, some just funny. Whatever, I hope you enjoyed this and I want to give a special thanks to the Editors and Publishers of Mortuary Management.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


For the most part I like to consider myself fairly understanding and very flexible when it comes to peoples needs. I've explained before in more than one post that I will basically do back flips and go out of my way to accommodate, and these are not just stories, this is how I lead my life. I think I usually have a "water off a ducks back" attitude and let lots of things slide past me that may not be too slippery elsewhere but on occasion my back gets saturated and I begin to feel the wetness.

Ever since I can remember, the words " I don't care what you did, as long as you tell me the truth" were constantly told to me. I guess I wasn't the model child. The good part about these words were that they were true. As long as I told the truth I would eventually be fine. I can't say I didn't lie but things seemed easier when I didn't. I have to imagine that the years of this philosophy paying off ingrained the same feeling within me as an adult and the one thing that I cannot tolerate is a lie. I can, or can at least attempt to understand just about anything as long as it's the truth.

About one year ago, I sat across from a man and woman making funeral arrangements for his father; her father-in-law. He had called me prior to coming in and advised me that he was at the nursing home where his father had died and no plans had been made other than "he wanted to be cremated". He and his father had been estranged for many years yet his father had him listed as an emergency contact and being his only child he felt an obligation to handle this; his father was to be cremated. Still on the phone he requested prices and after I supplied them he told me they were too high. I then tried to explain why the cost was what it was and after his repeating they were too high again I offered him the name and phone number of an organization that I knew of that would help him at a much reduced price. He took it, thanked me, and within the hour was back on our phone explaining that he wanted us to help him after all; this was the last he would ever do for his father and he didn't feel the other firm was right for him and he would be in to see me. At that point I made a decision that I was going to give him the services at cost but didn't tell him on the phone. This was a late Friday afternoon.

Back at the funeral home. After I had gathered all of the necessary information I explained my intention to him and he seemed extremely grateful to the point of where he wanted to hug me. He went on to tell me that he was a realtor and the money wasn't really a problem for him but after all, they had been estranged. I didn't renege on the discount I offered and tried to understand where he was coming from. Not a problem. He explained that he was at home when he had gotten the call from the nursing home telling him that his father had died and he and his wife jumped in the car to get there as fast as they could; his wallet was at home along with her purse and he asked if he could come back tomorrow with the money. I told him not to worry, when his father was ready he could bring it with him when he came to get him.

To this day, we are storing his fathers cremated remains at a cemetery and despite the numerous phone calls and certified letters which he has signed for I have not seen him nor a nearly a year. In all honesty, it's not the money; it's not going to break us. It's the bald face lieing that I cant accept. Tell me you have absolutely nothing, tell me you can only afford five bucks a month, tell me you want me to flush the ashes down the bowl, tell me you think I'm a thief, tell me you hate my friggin' guts but dammit! don't lie to me! I'm no ogre to be afraid of, I've told you I'm a simple guy and I've given away almost more than I care to remember over the years so money should never be an issue and usually isn't, I see to that. In the grand scope of things I guess this happening on occasion is a livable scenario but it sure is frustrating; sometimes I wonder if the word SAP is visible on my forehead to everyone but me. OK, now I can put away the file I came across today and maybe once this year ends I can send it to the warehouse and completely forget about it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Should man become corn?

You know, sometimes I wonder if my brain isn't a little off kilter. The smallest, mundane things often get me thinking about what sometimes feels like crazy shit. This morning it happened to be corn. Yes, corn.

I live in the middle of farmland and every day I pass all of the things one would expect to see when living in this type of area. Sometimes it feels as if there's nothing around for miles. The biggest stretch of nothingness I pass through daily are fields that are used for the annual planting of different crops; there must be hundreds of thousands of acres. This year all of these fields were planted with corn. Over the course of the past few months I've watched the remnants of the old harvest plowed under, the new crop planted, the growth of the plants which included obvious stress from lack of rain and finally this week, the harvest. Each day I passed by, a different section was cleared but it wasn't until today when I saw the huge truck overflowing with the yellowish brown kernels of "feed" that this came to mind.

I thought, "Energy". That's what gives us the ability to walk, talk, bring blood to our organs; but I already knew that, you know it too. "Energy"....that's right, it can neither be created nor destroyed; again I knew that as well. Sounds ridiculous, I told you sometimes I think I'm a little off. My own version of "The farmer in the Dell" starts playing in my head. The sun and rain feed the earth, the earth feeds the plants, the plants feed the cows, the cows feed us, we feed the....wait a this can't be. And I began to think, who do we feed? Am I, the funeral director, cremating or burying somethings food in sealed containers, preventing the natural transfer of energy from us to the next organism? Am I somehow breaking the natural chain? Shouldn't "we" be the fertilizer that feeds the earth so that it can feed the plants that feed the cows that feed us who then in turn again feed the earth so that the process can begin all over? Is that the eternity that scholars speak of; could the afterlife we've heard of just be a metaphor for this eternal transfer of energy? Every living organism on this earth is dependant on each other to keep it alive. If a certain insect dies off, or stops being a "donating" part of the community, the certain bird that depends on it for it's food is now prone to die off as well. If the kelp in the ocean were to disappear would the mammals and fish that depend on it for life sustaining food disappear as well? If I really tried I could probably name many, many situations of specific dependency. The experts claim that evolution as well as extinction takes eons to completely occur. What is going to become extinct someday because we humans for the most part are not giving of ourselves to the earth? Are we forfeiting our eternity by not going directly into the ground as we were born, naked and unscathed by chemicals, or are we actively contributing to the extinction.......of ourselves?

All of this over corn. Yep. These questions will undoubtedly always remain unanswered and could also very well be the ravings of a lunatic in the making however, all I really know is that from now on, I don't think I'll ever look at plain old corn the same plain old way.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I'll be around

If when it's my time I have a choice
to decide where it is I want to be
I know I'll request a place in your heart
a place that is warm and pulsing for me
A haven inside you where I could wait
one little chamber, that's one of my needs
And wait in the darkness is all I would do
til you've finished your purpose, planted your seeds
I long to be with you but not til you're ready
please remain safe and know that I'm here
I'll never be further from you than your heart
so remember my love, you have nothing to fear



....................let me go, dont stop living, if I'm allowed I won't go far.

Do I do that too?

He had been a funeral director since he was a very young man all the time serving the same community in which he was raised. He was extremely well known and liked by most, not all, but most people who I met who knew him. It was a rare occasion when he was out of his dapper black uniform complete with white shirt and tie and very soon into his career he became an elected official of the county serving as Coroner; not appointed. So here he was, pretty nice guy, always dressed for his role and a highly visible and liked public figure in the small community in which he lived and served; the perfect employee for any funeral home to have.

Funeral directors seem like a pretty tight knit group since there aren't many of us in any given location by comparison to the general population. Not clannish by any stretch, especially outside of each firm, we do however often give the appearance of camaraderie, all the while watching each other with the eyes of hawks; yet cloaked when in a large group or in the public arena and always extremely amiable toward one another at that time. But, and this is a big but, when the group is broken down to one on one conversations or sub-groups within their own realm, I would be willing to bet, from experience, that something negative will be mentioned about someone not in attendance in almost each discussion. We are after all competitors but this isn't competition. Bunch of backbiters if you ask me. Sadly enough, it's all too easy to get wrapped up in this, as I have in the past, but I try my best to keep my thoughts to myself and just listen. Sometimes I don't even want to listen but...OK time to move on, this should be in another post.

The gist of the matter is that this particular funeral director/nice guy/coroner has been discussed by countless funeral directors that I know of. Each time, it has been brought up that what he does is a conflict of interest and we should all band together and somehow get him out of the coroners position. After all, he shouldn't have the ability to sway anyone in his direction for services. Should he? Does he? Did he ever? People! The man is a publicly elected official - don't the communities votes mean anything here or is it just us we care about after all? Anyway, during this directors career he has worked for every local funeral home in every capacity imaginable and each time he was somewhere different his employers views suddenly changed; it was no longer a conflict of interest when it was supposedly benefiting them. It's almost funny, every time he changed jobs one group, his previous employers, would begin to bitch about him and the ones who were previously doing the complaining, his new employers, were now quiet. So what does it really come down to? Conflict of interest or not it's probably jealousy or greediness if you ask me; and guys, I'm not talking about myself, no one is jealous of me or should be for that matter.

The above is an over- simplistic example of how I personally see this particular aspect of human nature. Perhaps I'm alone in my way of thinking or understanding and it could very well be the wrong view in others eyes but this is what I perceive. What I don't understand is what makes us so opportunistic. When it's to our benefit we're sometimes more than happy to overlook the same thing that we bitch about or believe to be wrong when we're not getting a slice of it. I know that not everyone is like this but there just seem to be so many who use or abuse the current situation whether it be right or wrong if it happens to fit into their plan and I know I myself am guilty of doing the same. But why? Maybe someone can tell me what it is that causes this. Unhappiness, fear, jealousy, greed, hatred a combination of these? Maybe someday I'll understand this part of me and will be able to avoid going there completely; I can only hope. Any suggestions?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Racism...yep, it's still alive.

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.

Nina Simone (Strange Fruit)

Saturday, September 1, 2007


I had the opportunity to be interviewed by one of my favorite authors! Noelle of Intellectual Hedonism offered me the chance for this interview and I snatched it. It was fun and gave me a reason to search within myself - here it is:

Instructions First:

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