Lala is the song in my heart


I have always liked children, even before I had my own; I coached others in sports, and spent a good deal of time with my nieces and nephews. Miles and I decided to start our family while decorating our Christmas tree.  A family member had asked when we were going to have kids. I supposed we just figured we were ready.

-Lauren- 

The following September Lauren our first child was born, and our lives were changed forever. I had never really taken into consideration, the true helplessness of a newborn baby. Or the mother baby bond; after all she had carried the life inside her and now feeds her child with her own body. I sometimes felt like the outsider, until it happened, the little morsel smiled at me, she looked right at me and genuinely smiled. Well, that was it.  I was hooked.

Kids are a lot of things: inquisitive, sensitive, silly, loud, messy and my favorite, gullible. When Lauren was about four and a half she asked me how to catch a leprechaun. It was March and I could only assume she must have been learning about St. Patrick’s day in pre-school. “How to catch a leprechaun eh?” I replied forefinger tapping my temple. “Well you have to be very quick and, of course, use the right tools and method.” “What are the right tools daddy?” eyes blinking. “Well’ first you need a bag, that way you will have something to catch him in. Next you’re going to need a ‘knocker’ something that makes a loud noise when you hit it against a tree.” Poof, she was gone, rummaging through the kitchen for the perfect leprechaun catching accessories. She returned to my side after deciding that a plastic grocery bag, and a large soup ladle were the right tools for the job. “How do I do it?” she inquired. I held the door for her as we made our way into the back yard, “ you have to be very patient, and quiet, to a degree, you see Lauren leprechaun’s love the eggs of the squawk, squawk bird, the squawk squawk bird lays its eggs at the base of a tree, when it does it makes the noise that sounds like its name, when the leprechaun hears the bird hitting the tree and making the egg laying noise he will come rushing down and you can snatch him up in your bag.” Off she went, into the dusk of crisp spring evening, leprechaun catching tools and tricks at hand, I went into the house to beckon Miles to hear what was going on outside, we sat down at the kitchen table and watched Lauren as she stalked from tree to tree, pausing to strike it with her ladle, position her bag and make the noise “SQUWAK!” Sadly enough Lauren did not apprehend any  leprechaun that night, but the hunt sure was fun.

 

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send in the clowns…

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“Yes…but you don’t work with… you know…the bodies, do you?” When people find out that I am an undertaker, much of the time this is one of the first questions. I am not sure why I find it so odd, to me it would be like asking a cowboy “So…do you ride a horse?”

One of the tasks in working with the dead is the post embalming job of dressing. When dressing a deceased, more of “who” that person is comes to light. The clothing used, either new or from the deceased wardrobe reveals to me silently, a small understanding who this person was in life.

Over the years, I have dressed people in a wide variety of apparel: from overalls and work boots, to ballet tights and tutus, three-piece suits to cut off shorts, evening gowns to skinny jeans and uniforms from countless organizations.

After such a wide variety of offerings, it had become hard to surprise me with clothes anymore. Until one day I was presented with a large bag and box by a director that was assisting a deceased man’s family. “This will be something different.” He remarked. Having seen it all before, I doubted that, until I looked inside the box. “O my!” I replied to the other undertaker, yes this was a first.

The box contained a shoe than I could only guess was a size 75. The shoes curled up a bit at the toe, and were many times wider than any conventional shoe. The toe portion had red polka dots on a white surface, and the uppers had yellow lightning bolts on a sky blue background. The laces were neon green and had bells along with other trinkets attached to them. Mouth agape, I looked at the other undertaker “These are clown shoes?” “I hope so,” he answered “This man is a clown, we are going to have a clown funeral.” I stood there, blankly pondering in silence just what might be involved in a clown funeral. Shaking off the thought of 50 tiny cars in a funeral procession, with a seemingly endless stream of brightly clad mourners flowing forth, I set my attention to dressing this man.

The bag of clothing was full, and the colors of the clothing inside were as wide a variety as I could have imagined. As I removed the ensemble I took an inventory of sorts: one red, yellow and green plaid jacket cut short at the hip, a pair of long, but oversized orange and light blue striped pants, a tuxedo style shirt, baby blue with black trimmed ruffles. Inside the bag was a smaller bag containing the outlandish accessories needed to complete the transformation. This bag contained a bright red oversized bow tie and matching vest with brass buttons as well as a matching set of rainbow-colored socks and a set of lime green suspenders. The last piece of the costume was a straw bowler type hat; however, it was very small and was dwarfed by a very large silk sunflower.

Dressing the man is this volcanic ensemble was not unlike preparing most people, other than the obvious fact that this outfit was atypical to anything I had done before. Having finished I stepped back to take in at length the appearance he was taking on. The thing that stuck me odd was not what he was wearing, but what he was missing.

In most almost all circumstances when dealing with a deceased man, hair and makeup are details I can handle with no problem. In this case however, I was over my head. I called the other undertaker on the funeral home intercom and he informed me that some of the deceased’s colleagues would be coming in to do the final touches, and that I should be prepared to lend them a hand if needed.

I was waiting at the appointed time in the lobby of the funeral home for the clown detail to bound into the funeral home, make up kit and water squirting lapel flowers at hand.  A few moments later the lobby doors opened and to my surprise three very normally clad men walked in. I supposed the surprised look on my face gave away my anticipation of something a bit more colorful. Nevertheless, I introduced myself and began to lead them to the dressing room. As we went one of the gentlemen asked “Were you expecting us to look different?” “I guess I was, you guys don’t look like clowns,” I replied, “You don’t look like an undertaker” the man rebutted.” “What does an undertaker look like?” I asked “Exactly” he smiled. I took an immediate liking to all three of the men. Once we entered the dressing room a reverent silence took over. This was a friend they had come to tend to. After some time, and some tears, a large makeup “tackle box” was opened and the art of making the deceased into character began.

As with most things a person has very little knowledge of, I had no idea the work involved in developing a clown’s character. The painstaking detail, and thought, along with years of refinement were fascinating. The men gave me an elementary education about clowns as they worked with skilled hands. I came to know that there are several types of clowns, from the white-faced clowns to the tramps or hobos. This gentleman was an Auguste clown, meaning “foolish” in German. I was told that clowns spend a career perfecting their character and the tactics they employ as they entertain.

After the makeup was applied and a bright orange halo-shaped wig was applied to cover the man’s pattern baldness, another undertaker and I placed the man in his casket. The tiny bowler hat was affixed and we all stood back in silence, appraising the transformation. The final approval was given by the clown coalition and they were shown out. ”Will you be here tonight at the visitation?” one asked as they left the funeral home, “”I will” I said “We will look forward to seeing you again” he said as they made their way out.

Just prior to the appointed visitation time the casketed body of the Auguste clown was placed in a large reposing room, and the final details were seen to. I was in the lobby with the director attending the family when they came in. The lead director (an industry term of the undertaker most closely connected to the family throughout the arrangements) took the family in for a private time of viewing, leaving me alone to greet the friends of the deceased when they began to arrive.

As the time for visitation arrived, the front door of the funeral home opened, and in walked, a clown. I am not sure why I was surprised, I was anticipating clowns. He was a white-faced clown wearing a bright-striped one-piece jumpsuit. I asked him, “Who are you here to see?” The words escaped my mouth an instant too late and the clown roared with laughter. After some good nature ribbing on his part and an ample share of pride swallowed on mine, we made our way to the reposing room. The deceased clown’s grandchildren squealed with delight at the appearance of this clown, and raced into his waiting embrace.

The rest of the evening was a wonder of costumes and makeup. Clowns of all types, styles, and sizes, came to pay respect to the memory of their fallen comrade. I also learned that lady clowns were also common place in the clown community.

While standing among the throng of clowns I noticed one watching me closely. As he approached he stopped, placing a finger aside an inquisitive face and furrowed brow he remarked “Well…you don’t look like an undertaker?” Remembering the jousting I had with the makeup artist earlier, it quickly dawned on me that here he stood. “But you certainly look like a clown” I replied with a smile.

STOP!…in the name of…death

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-The Chase-

 

After the initial visitation of the family, the reposing room will typically stand open to anybody that may wish to pay there respects. During this time people come and go as they see fit, sometimes they come when the family is not there, maybe they don’t know what to say, or perhaps they could only get to the funeral home during a time the family was not going to be there. Nevertheless, when the deceased lay in state, the traffic flow through the funeral home remains fairly steady.

I was standing in the lobby of the funeral home one beautiful summer afternoon, watching the shadows grow long as dusk approached under a fire red sunset. The funeral home was situated on a very busy main through fare in town with no parking on the busy street at the front of the building. It was an unwritten custom for patrons to enter through the back doors, for that was where the parking lot is. It was very rare that anybody other than the mailman would use the front door.

When the front door opened it startled me a bit. I turned to find a man searching the directory of reposing rooms, as if looking for the name of the person he was there to pay his respects to. He was dressed in tattered clothing, and had several days growth on his dirty face. He had an odor of alcohol about him but he did not appear intoxicated. “Can I help you sir?” I asked of him. “No, I have come to see this lady here,” pointing to a name on the directory. I showed the man towards the reposing room where the deceased rested. He went in and made his way to the register book, I figured everything was in order, after all, who was I to judge. I had no more returned to the lobby when he brushed by me at a hasty pace. The whole situation did not set well with me as I watched him exit from the same front door he entered. I returned to the reposing room to check on the lady. At first everything appeared to be in order until further examination revealed that her diamond wedding band was missing. I bolted to the lobby and told the receptionist to call the police and exited the front door after the man. He was not far down the road, I assumed he figured his victim wasn’t talking and he need not rush any longer. That all changed once I bellowed to him “Hey buddy, lets talk for a moment!” He stopped, casting his form in the silhouette of the setting sun. I thought for a moment he might come back to talk to me, and the whole incident would be over, but he bolted. The chase was on – he wearing tatters of the street, and me in my black suit and tie racing down the busy main street of our small town. To the people we darted by, it must have seemed a bit surreal, like a foot chase from a movie. We sprinted by pedestrians, cut through traffic, he trying to shake me at every turn and me doing my best to keep up. He had speed on his side but endurance prevailed and I caught him after a five-block frenzy. I grabbed him by the back of the shirt and he just gave up, throwing his hands in the air. “Fine you want it. Here!” giving me the ring. He continued “But you know something!? Dead people don’t need to eat.” “No they don’t” I replied, “Dead people need to be honored.” Just then, the police showed up, ready to take the man to jail. We locked in a gaze with one another, as he was shoved over the patrol car, and was being frisked. Something inside me was sad for the man. It was obvious he had fallen on hard times. “If you would rather make a days wage instead of steal it, give me a call when you get yourself together” I tucked a business card in his top pocket. The police carried the man away. He looked at me through the back glass of the cruiser. A few days later I was in the front lobby and was startled by the opening of the front door. It was he; “Well?” he beckoned to me. “I am glad to see you. Lets take a ride.” I answered. A friend of my owned a vault company where concrete burial vaults were made and sold. I called him as we drove to his place telling him of this man’s previous adventure with me, and asked him to do me a favor. I introduced the two and they seemed to hit it off right away. They spoke to one another in very plain words, and it was obvious that each had mutual respect for the other. I turned to leave and the man hurried to my side and touched my shoulder. When I turned, I found him there holding back tears, “Why?” he asked.” Why what?” I replied. “Why do you care?”  Tears now falling from his eyes. “Well, I figured it was about time somebody did,” I answered with a man-to-man handshake. “The rest is up to you.”

all God’s creatures

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-All God’s Creatures-

 

Funerals held in the countryside are my favorite. I love the mountains, and all of outdoors for that matter. One hot summer day we were to have interment in an old family cemetery. The plot was located high in the mountains, and was surrounded by the beauty of farms. The pace in the hills slows to a creep, and I relish the feelings of warmth the people from these communities possess.

I arrived before the procession with the flowers, my job was to quickly set up the flowers, move the flower van out of the way, and direct the procession in to the grassy parking area from the winding mountain road. As I was setting up the flowers I noticed I was being watched from afar. Black Angus cattle had taken an interest in my task and were making their way up the hill slowly, to investigate what I was doing. The grave was in the corner of the cemetery, and the post holding the tent over the grave was lashed to the fence post dawned with barbed wire holding the cattle in their pasture. The cattle arrived at the grave at the same time as the procession. They approached the fence watching as the cars pulled into the grassy meadow now being used for parking, and stood there chewing as the pallbearers carried the casket to the lowering device. Once the casket was in place the family was seated and the friends gathered around for the beginning of the committal service. If somebody was standing back a bit the scene must have looked pretty odd; the casket was there, family seated, friends all gathered around the grave, flowers arranged, and a joining fence lined with twelve or so curious, chewing, tail swishing cows all within reach of the crowd, eyeing the fresh cut flowers with anticipation. The people attending the service paid little to no attention to the large black-eyed guests as the preacher soothed the crowd with scripture.

Now this particular preacher was well know by the funeral staff for being one to read every word of his funeral and committal service. Even the words he used to pray for, and eulogize the deceased were thought of in advance and penned. This committal was no exception, as he shuffled his papers he read aloud. He had reached the point of the final prayer, all heads were bowed, and all eyes shut as he read aloud a very poetic prayer for the family. He was doing just fine until one of the uninvited guest standing directly behind him decided to reach over the fence to sample some of the lovely summer flowers that had been placed just out of it’s reach. The cow, frustrated with being unable to reach the tantalizing treat, ‘goosed’ the unsuspecting minister from behind with its nose. Surprised by this sensation of admiration from the huge creature the preacher lost grip of the last page of his prayer. The gentle breeze caught the small leaflet of paper and it floated like a leaf, gently swaying from side to side until it disappeared, right in-between the casket and the edge of the grave. The clergyman looked at me quickly with a look of “now what do I do” on his face. I quietly cleared my throat and spoke out loud ”Amen.” “Amen” the congregation acknowledged, and I motioned the preacher to receive the family. Later standing in the cemetery the young clergyman joked a bit with me, “you bailed me out, I froze” and we both laughed over the situation. A few weeks later I was working a service with the same minister, and as we got out of the cars at the cemetery he said “look here” holding up a brand new leather binder “I’m cow proof.”

 

 

-*-

 

“Always look in the vault.” That was the advice from the old timers. I took the instruction with a grain of salt, after the committal service there would be plenty of time to inspect the grave, and if it was the wrong vault what could I do about it at that very moment anyway, besides I was half their age and twice as smart.

After leading the funeral procession into the cemetery, I waited for the congregation to get parked as the hearse driver assembled the pallbearers. With a silent nod I signaled the hearse driver to start toward the grave with casket and pallbearers. I was walking with the family, as they chatted among themselves about the deceased. Once we reached the grave the casket was placed on the lowering devise and I escorted the family under the tent to their chairs. It was a small family; the deceased had never wed, and out lived all of his brothers and sisters. Nieces and nephews were his next of kin. The minister began his committal service, addressing this intimate group of quiet mourners with words of hope and encouragement. He was inferring to life’s uncertainties when the hearse drivers eyes caught mine. My fellow director was stiff as a board, frozen in his hands folded together in front mortician pose. It was his eyes, ‘what is he doing with his eyes”’ I thought to myself. I followed the path his eyes were making, from directly at me, and then down. I thought for a moment my zipper might have been down. No, he was not looking there; he was looking, silently screaming, behind wide staring eyes and twitching jaw muscles, at the grave.

One of the nieces figured out the mystery before I did, it was no wonder she did. The cause of all the jaw flinching and eyestrain was just about to reach her foot. A copperhead snake had made its way out from the coolness of the grave and concrete vault bottom. Now snake stories are a lot like fish tales, every time the story is recalled the size of the snake or fish seem to magically grow. That being said, the niece was about four feet from the grave’s edge, and the snake was in tongues reach of her toeless flats and plenty of the snake was still unseen.

I never liked the keystone cops, just a bit too crazy for me, never the less, it was like somebody yelled action for one of their scenes. “Snake!” screamed the niece “Snake!” confirmed the nephews “Snake!” cried the reverend “Snake!” bellowed the friends. The crowd back peddled in unison, chairs were heaved out of the way and flowers spilled onto the turf, as the mass exodus of attendees clamored to distance themselves from the slithering late arrival.

We all took refuge near the cars, and watched from afar as the snake made its way through the grass toward the near by forest. The minister broke the silence with a suggestion of having the final prayer here on the driveway, and everybody was in full agreement.

a preacher, a band, and a van

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-The Carpet-

 As a young funeral directors apprentice, maintenance of the funeral home was my main duty, it was once believed that a funeral director learns the trade from the bottom up. I started my endeavors into the funeral industry digging graves, cutting grass, and washing the cars. When an apprentice is serving his time of learning it comes from many different people, for the most part the funeral workers who hold no funeral directors license oversee the first part of the training. I feel it is a good thing for the people you will one day be overseeing to help mold a ‘would be’ director-manager. I think it makes the grain of salt that should be used when speaking to another in a work environment a bit more palatable

The funeral home had outdoor carpeting on the sidewalks, for added eye appeal. One spring day, a group of unlicensed funeral workers and I were given the task of replacing this carpeting. I did not know anything about doing this but the others assured me by the end of the day I would. We labored in the hot May sun, removing the worn carpet, and wrestling it aside. I was manly the ‘go for’ but I did not mind, for the older gentlemen were taking time during the task to show me the ‘how’s and whys’ of the project. It took all day to complete the job, and the last minutes of the day were spent admiring the fruits of our labor, and listening to the complements of passer byes.

The next day a funeral was to be held for an older lady that had passed away quietly in her sleep. I was informed that she was a member of the Holiness Church, and that the whole of the congregation would probably be in attendance. I was also made aware that the son of the deceased would be attending the service as well, however he would be escorted by armed U.S. Marshall’s, as he was currently incarcerated.

The family was a huge group of people, they lived up in the mountains and to some people would be considered a bit rough around the edges. They arrived at the funeral home in a siege, children in tow. The parking lot looked like we were having a used pick up truck sale going on.

The clergyman was a slightly built man with round wire spectacles. He wore an unkempt suit, and clutched a worn bible in his hand and was referred to only as preacher. He brought with him what I call “the band”-  they were the group of musicians who were to play for the service. The band included a guitar, harmonica, harpsichord, bass, and banjo. The band also had a trio of older ladies who served as the back up vocal accompanist. Indeed the scene was set for a fine send off, minus one attendee.

Service time had finally arrived, the preacher was told to wait until the son arrived so he had the band start playing. I was waiting, with the majority of the family at the back of the chapel for the son and his escorts to pull in. The gentle harmony of the band filled the chapel, as the ladies sang old gospel hymns. A long passenger van came into the parking lot and I stepped out to meet the driver. I could see from the start that she meant business. She wore a pantsuit, and had her badge on display clipped to her waist, right beside her side arm. She had a short military style hair cut, and her eyes were hidden behind black tinted gold-framed sunglasses. Hands on her hips she took charge of the situation saying “we will bring the prisoner in for the service, he will sit with his family until the conclusion, and then we will escort him back to prison.” It sounded like a fine plan to me. She and her male partner, the one I dubbed “the silent one” went to the side of the van and opened the outer door. Fumbling through his keys the male marshal opened the inner cage surrounding our anticipated guest, and stepped aside. In a direct tone the lady spoke to the son “get out.” The son emerged from the van and carefully stepped down from inside. His hair was long and pulled back into a pony tail, tattoos covered the visible parts of his forearms and hands. He was dressed in an orange jumpsuit, and was shackled at the hands, and feet. The restraints on his feet and hands were joined by a chain around waist. The son took little steps as he made his way into the chapel, as the chains on his feet were only about a foot in length.

The son and the family were seated at the front of the chapel, and the preacher was given the nod to start. As the preacher ranted on with fire and brimstone the band played a quiet accompany. The lady marshal came to me and quietly said “ sorry we were late but this guy gave us a bit of trouble, if I motion for you to make a phone call, do it immediately, and call your local police in to assist us with him, he is a pretty rough customer.” I agreed and she went to sit down behind the family where she could monitor her prisoner. I took a spot at the back of the chapel with the other funeral staff.

The funeral was going along as planned, the preacher was red-faced as he shouted warnings of hell fire and damnation, his congregation served as witness to his words with shouts of “Amen!” “Halleluiah!” as they sprang from their seats clapping their hands, pressing him further into his frenzy. It was at the point when the preacher screamed, finger pointed at the crowd “ can I get a witness?” that the funeral took an unusual turn. The lady marshal stood up behind the family and glared, for a moment I thought she was going to go forward and testify to the preacher during his altar call. However, her eyes were fixed on the son, she made her way out of the pew and beckoned to the son to come to her using only her index finger and demanding gaze. Then, all hell broke loose; one of the female family members stood and gave the lady marshal a shove and an unkind comment, this instigated the rest of the clan into action. The family surrounded the orange clad prisoner pushing away the lady marshal and her partner that had come to her side. Curse words shouted out could be heard over the preacher, and the band would not yield to the disturbance. Somehow during the madness the son had freed one of his hands and none of his family was letting him go back to jail. The lady marshal made the motion to me, with here thumb in her ear and little finger at her mouth, mouthing the words “call 911.” I ran to the lobby and called the dispatcher, I told them we had two U.S. Marshals with a prisoner trying to escape in our chapel during a funeral, and to please send police help. When I returned to the chapel, the scene was one of complete mayhem, the whole of the family was standing and shouting, the marshals and some of the congregation were trying to get to the son through flying fists and kicking feet, and the preacher was still bellowing out his sermon of hell fire, accompanied by the band. It only took a few minutes, for what I am sure was every police officer on duty in our small town, to come bursting into the chapel through every conceivable entry with guns at the ready. I stood by, with the rest of the funeral staff helplessly as the police joined the fight. Several police and the two marshals finally waded into the mist of the family that had cocooned the son, once they got a hold on him they dragged him kicking and screaming into the middle aisle of the chapel, slamming him down face first and re-cuffing his hands, preacher still preaching, band still playing. Police and Marshals grabbed the prisoner and started making their way to the back of the chapel quickly, avoiding the family as they clawed at the son. The lady marshal got to the back of the chapel first; I opened the doors for her as she ran to get the van. The tires of the van screeched and smoked as she jammed the throttle, she wheeled the vehicle wildly through the parking lot as she made her way to the chapel entry. The prisoner under police and marshal escort was rushed out of the chapel to wait for the van as it sprang over the curb.  The lady marshal slammed on the brakes to stop and help get the son back inside the van, but the van did not stop. As the van came over the curb the wheels were on the carpet installed the previous day. The directions on the carpet glue read not to let anybody walk on the carpet for a few hours, it did not mention anything about hard charging lady U.S. Marshals and her nine passenger armored van. The carpet came free under the weight of the van and sent it careening into a stonewall that surrounded the chapel. Van steaming, the lady marshal sprang from the cockpit and opened the side doors. The prisoner was heaved inside and the doors were slammed and locked. As the van pulled away the family was now standing outside the chapel, screaming and crying, waving good-bye as the son shouted through the glass, “I love you momma!” Things began to settle down, and one of the men that helped install the carpet, joked quietly over my shoulder “what do you know about fixing stone walls?”

I stood there for a moment in awe of the last thirty minutes, looking over the shambles that had been made of the previous days work, and then from inside the chapel I heard the band, and the ladies singing hymns from long ago, and figured; just another day at the office.

‘Plan your work and work your plan’ is what the old timers always tell me. I feel like some of the time I am chasing wild pitches thrown at me at the very last-minute by preachers running late, families with the “Oh by the way” request, weather, and the occasionally missing in action family member. Never the less, for the most part I have not faced to many situations I could not handle, if not minimize to the point of reconciliation. I try to expect the unexpected, but sometimes things just get out of hand.

from the mouth of babes

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-Granny-

 

Death invades our ranks; there is nothing that can be done about that. It is how we deal with death when the burden is ours to bear that sets us apart. Most people face death as the undeniable end of life, however with that fact comes with several different explanations of the “here after.” Faith plays a very real part of an undertaker’s job, not necessarily the faith of that undertaker, but the faith of the dearly departed. The faith of the dead and their families is what gets them through the ordeal of death. Even those with no religious beliefs can try and put an “it is okay this person died” spin on death. Never the less, after all the talk of death is finished, a void still exist.

I am a very firm proponent of bringing children to the funeral home; I feel that is how they learn to grieve. They look to the adults as an example of what to do, and how to behave with these emotions of loss and sadness.

One afternoon it was Jeff’s time to learn about death, as the night before his grandmother had passed away. I had made arrangements with Jeff’s parents, and they had asked me about bringing him to the funeral home. I told them how I felt, and encouraged them to talk plainly to him about his grandmother. They decided to have him visit her before the family and friend visitation time, and they would make any further decisions based on how that experience went. Late in the afternoon Jeff and his mother and father came to the funeral home. Jeff was a cute little man, I figured him to be about six. He was a chubby boy, and he tugged at his collar, his navy blue suit and tie did not appear to be his favorite outfit. “Hello Jeff, I’m Scott,” I said as I presented him my hand. “Hello Scott” he replied. “Nice funeral parlor ya’ got here.” I knew we would be fast friends right away. Jeff, his parents and I waited in the lobby for his grandfather to arrive. As we waited his parents and I engaged in some small talk as we passed the time waiting. Our attention turned to the conversation and we lost track of Jeff who just a moment earlier was right by our side. Suddenly the quiet discussion was shattered buy Jeff.  He was running in from the reposing room from which his grandmother was laying in state. “Mommy, Daddy come here quick look, look!” He tugged at the couple’s hand guiding them into the room. I followed behind and listened to Jeff as he exclaimed “Look! Granny ain’t gone to be with Jesus, she’s right here in this box!”

A tear came to the eye of the mother and the father as they explained to Jeff about the physical body and the soul of mankind. “So she is here…. but the best part of her has gone on to heaven?” he questioned. “That’s about that size of it Jeff.” said his father, crouched in front of his son. “ But she’ll always be my granny no matter what, right?” Jeff asked. We all agreed that she would, and Jeff replied, “Well I reckon that makes me pretty dog gone lucky.”