Dad was a mortician, in our early life, a funeral director, an undertaker. He liked the term undertaker as you undertake things, you step in during trying times.
The Mustache Story.
A man died. He had a mustache for a very long time. That’s how everyone knew him. But he wound up in the hospital and for whatever reason they had to shave off his mustache. He did not live long enough for it to grow back before the viewing and funeral. Dad cut off some of the man’s hair from the back of his head. He used theatrical lace, spirit gum, created a mustache and glued it into place. When it came time for the viewing, the family saw the familiar face of the man they loved. They were overwhelmed. That’s what an undertaker does.
Dad went on to other careers, but the subject of death, funerals and such were common conversation. It was never off limits. It was not grim, it was real. I will always be grateful for that. One thing he always said. “Remember the life lived, and not just the death. It is not always easy to do, but always worth striving for.”
My sister Deb reminded me recently that Dad had also worked in a beach ball factory. As I mentioned he worked in a funeral home.. But what I did not know was that the funeral home he worked for, owned the beach ball factory. One was located right across the street from the other. Depending on how business was going at one place would determine where he would spend his day. I suppose it might seem they had no connection at all. Certainly a very different frame of mind.
I can only imagine shifting mental and emotional gears each day wondering what needed to be done. Some days he needed to help people say goodbye and other days, well, he was building beach balls.
The beach ball, each panel attached to the next until the circle is complete. Then sealed and filled with air. Tap it gently and it will move. Not unlike, I suppose what he did across the street as he helped people complete the circle and move. It is another little God nudge that unrelated things connect us even when we least expect it, when we don't see it. I often marvel at how much one thing teaches us about something else. Sometimes we lean back to what we have experienced. And sometimes we lean forward to what we don't yet see. Beach balls, funeral homes.....and circles.
Jeff Raught Copyright July 2015