And So Begins My New Life

Join me as I embark on a new life and new career in Funeral Services.

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Location: Southeast, United States

I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

The Best Boss Ever

Let me tell you why I have the greatest boss in the world. He has season tickets for the local NFL team, but for the first two weeks he was unable to go. He gave me the tickets instead. My wife and I went both times. Today, me and the returning employee went over to the boss's house about 9am and did some work. After lunch, we worked about two more hours, then he asks me and the other guy if we would like to go out on his boat. Of course, we said yes! We took off and stayed out on the ocean for a couple of hours, going to a nearby island where we anchored and swam and waded around in the surf. I collected a few sea shells for my wife.

On the trip out to the island, the sea was rolling, the boat was bouncing, we're skimming across the waves at top speed and the wind is in my face and blowing through my hair. The sun was shining and the clouds were white and puffy. It suddenly occured to me how wonderful my life is now, especially compared to where I came from and what I was doing before I moved here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Not As Slow As I Thought

I've been saying in a couple of posts recently that we've been slow or it looks like we'll be slowing down, but really, August has been just as busy as other months. The biggest difference is nearly all of our calls recently have been direct cremations, with no services, no visitations, nothing. We've had about 13 calls this month, but only four or five have been full services. We had a call today, though, that will be a full service. The owner and I worked on the body, and once again he worked up to a certain point, then left me alone to finish. I like it when he does that, for two reasons. One: I get a littl nervous when he's around, and two: It re-affirms my belief that he is developing confidence in my abilities. He told me today that soon I will be sitting with families and making arrangements. This is the one area I had mentioned in a previous post that I felt was the most lacking in my training, so I'm looking forward to learning how to do this.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I Feel Like Salieri

I'm in a very melancholy mood right now. I'm not sure why, but I'm just sitting here listening to music with Winamp and enjoying some of the slower stuff I have in my collection. I wish I had musical talent, the ability to compose music that stirs the soul, brings tears to your eyes, or joy to your heart, or makes you feel like you could take on a thousand battles single-handedly. I wish I knew how to make some of my music play on this blog so you could share some of my favorite tunes. Someday I'll either figure it out, or the Blogger people will add that feature.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Camp Photos

Since there's not much going on at work, I'm posting a few photos from my son's summer camp job. That's him at the bottom of the stairs, in the sunglasses.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Son Is Coming Home!

My son is returning today from his three months in Oregon. He was working as a counselor at a Christian summer camp. His flight lands in just a couple of hours. I can't wait to see him. He left in the early part of June. He's bringing a DVD back with him, so I should have some photos that I can show off later. In the meantime, I spent today at my boss's house, working in the yard. Pulling weeds, trimming hedges, and that all-time favorite, laying mulch. I am whooped!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

News From My Old Job

I found out this weekend that the store I used to work for is being closed down. I can't say I'm surprised, as the company has been struggling for the past several years. Today was the last full day of business. Tomorrow the merchandise gets packed up and returned to the warehouse. I'm glad me and my wife were able to get out before all of this happened. I feel bad for those employees who are left in the lurch, though. I hope they are able to find new jobs as quickly as possible.

P.S. I saw this at Retail Sucks and thought it might provide a chuckle or two, the author is KittyPalooza:
"Some people are like Slinkies: useless, but they can still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Think We're Going To Be Slow

We completed our last service today; everyone was back in the funeral home by noon. Yesterday my immediate supervisor went around to the various hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice facilities. He likes to introduce himself to any of the nurses he hasn't met, keep our name on their minds, and generally just do a little meet and greet and PR. He also uses these visits to get a sense of how things are going; how full the facilities are and so forth. The indications he received are that things are slow, with a lot of empty beds and no new patients coming in. This means that we don't have a lot of imminent calls pending, so it looks like we'll be doing a lot of busy work until things change.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's All Greek To Me

I've been doing some research on how to add music files to my blog. From what I see, I might as well be researching Latin grammar or Aramaic courting rituals. HTML codes, flash MP3 players, URLs, hosting, download this, link to that. In some cases, the examples I saw involved no less than three websites. One that hosts the blog, one that hosts the music files, and one that provides the music player. Blogger People, if you read this, you need to create a simple (translation: free) way to let your users post music to their blogs.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My Trip To The National Cemetery

Today I made my trip to the National Cemetery. I had to deliver an urn and a flag for a burial ceremony. I remembered to bring my camera and I took a few photos. I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Show Of Faith

We got a death call this afternoon, and I made the removal. It turned out this person had pre-arrangements with us, so we knew we were to embalm. I got the body back to the funeral home and the owner was waiting to perform the embalming. He got everything set up; mostly I watched since he was in a hurry to get finished and get out of there. He said he had plans. So everything is going well, except the left leg wasn't getting good fluid distribution. So the owner tells me he's leaving, and that I will be raising the vessel and injecting the leg. He asked me, "Do you think you can handle that?" Of course, what could I say but, "No matter what, I guess I'm going to have to." He agreed. I'm glad to say I did raise the vessel and inject the leg, then completed the cavity treatment, bathed the body, cleaned the instruments and got out about an hour after the owner left. Either he was in such a hurry he had no choice to do what he did, or else he is starting to develop some faith in my potential. I vote for the latter.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Slowing Down

This week was very busy, starting with a rash of calls last weekend, which resulted in about four services or so. Those services are almost all concluded, with the last one ending at about 8pm tonight. So far we have not had any calls, so unless something comes in the next day or two, it looks like we won't have any work. At least, not the professional kind of work. Instead we'll probably get back to painting, cleaning, etc. I don't mind it, but I would rather be learning how to be a funeral director. I would like to get some training in sitting with families and making arrangements. This is the one area I do not believe I have been familiarized with nearly enough. Hopefully, when my internship papers arrive (in about a month or so) I will begin training in earnest.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Score One For The New Guy

A lot of funeral homes will have hoists or lifts that are used for raising the bodies off the prep tables and placing them into the caskets. This process is known in the industry as "casketing." Our funeral home has no such equipment; we simply pick the bodies up and place them in the caskets ourselves. At a minimum, this is a two man job: one person handles the upper body, the other takes the abdomen and legs, then the body is lifted and transferred to the casket. Occasionally, we will receive a larger than normal body which may require three people to handle.

We had one such body come in this week. Me and the returning employee got the body dressed, then waited for someone to return to the funeral home so we could casket the body. We decided to wait 30 minutes, and if we were still by ourselves at that time, we would go ahead and attempt it ourselves. However, my immediate supervisor returned a few minutes later. I said something to the effect of, "I'm glad you're here, this is definitely a three-man job." He told me that, no, two people could handle this large body, and that I should standby and watch how it was done. The old employee took the upper body, and my boss took the lower half. He got in position, got his arms under the lower back and thighs, and then proceeded to struggle and strain, huff and puff, and turn at least 3 shades of red, all without succeeding in lifting the body. He meekly admitted to me I should come over and help because "...the legs are too big for me to get my arms around!" I wisely chose not to say, "I told you so."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Monday's Trip

Monday will be a good day for me. I get to deliver an urn to the National Cemetery, which is about an hour away. The service is at 1:00pm, and I will be staying for that. I will leave the funeral home around 11:30 or so for the drive, which I will be making in the company car. This car has a tape deck, so I'll be bringing along a few tapes to listen to on the way. I won't get back until about 2:30 or 3:00, later if I stop for lunch on the way back. I'm really looking forward to a day out, and I will be taking my birthday present along, a new digital camera. I'll be taking a few photos, and I'll be glad to post any decent looking ones when I return. I do have one photo in mind: there's a plaque near the visitor's center which has a really neat inscription. I'll be sure to get a picture of that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

So Busy!

I cannot believe how busy we've been this week. August 1st rolls around and the calls dry up. We didn't get our first call until Friday the 4th. We then had two calls on Saturday, two on Monday and one today, for a total of six. Today's call will have their funeral on Thursday/Friday, and Monday's second call will have theirs on Saturday afternoon. In addition, the first call from Monday is having a memorial service Saturday morning. So for the past two days, I've been typing obituaries, which I'm sorry to say I screwed up one or two, printing burial permits and generating the death certificates. There is so much paperwork! I'm slowly learning it all, and I really like doing it; I just hate when my inexperience leads me to make stupid mistakes.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Have A Hobby

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that I had some extra time on my hands since I wasn't in school anymore. I have decided to take up counted cross-stitching once again. Yes, I'm a guy, and, yes, I cross-stitch. I started about 17 years ago, or somewhere around there. My wife was doing it, and I decided I wanted her to show me how, as I figured it might be something we could do together. I did it for many years, but eventually became burned out, as it is very tedious and very time consuming. The picture you see is one I did for my father's birthday one year. It's called "Hollow Horn Bear" and the pattern is published by Leisure Arts. This project took me about six months of work.

But since I now have some extra time, I've decided to get back into it. I've started my first project, and it will probably be another six-month long (or longer) endeavor. When it's finished I'll be glad to show it to you.