Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Memory of Laura

People often ask me "what's the worst thing that ever happened to you in your job"? I guess that's because I'm a funeral director and embalmer and folks are just naturally morbidly curious. I really don't like to talk about my work much simply because of the confidential nature of it. But tonight I am feeling down and remembering a particular family I served in another city several years ago.
I had an appointment to make funeral arrangements at 8:30 a.m. with a family who had an infant daughter who had died. These families are always hard to serve. They have envisioned a life that included that child, and now that child is dead. The impact of that reality is horrific. I know.
For the sake of anonymity, I will call the mother Laura and the father Mark. They were both present for the arrangement conference where I found out quite a few things. Laura and Mark were not married but had lived together for quite some time. They were both successful in their respective jobs and lived in a posh high-rise very comfortably. Laura was a career girl who put off having children so long that she thought she would never conceive. Well, at 40 she gave birth to a beautiful little girl. (The baby in the photo is definitely NOT their baby!)
Life changed for them immediately and they were both ecstatic, never letting the baby far from their sight. I'll call the baby Abby. When Abby was about six months old, she woke up in the night and after changing her, a tired Laura put her to bed with she and Mark. When they awoke the next morning, Abby had suffocated to death and there was nothing to be done.
They were, understandably, grief-stricken.
I will never forget Laura holding little Abby, wrapped in a blanket, throughout the visitation, never putting her down in the little casket prepared for her. She talked non-stop to her about her first day of school, proms she would never go to, the wedding day she would never have. On the way to the cemetery, she and Mark rode in the back of the limousine with the tiny casket encasing their daughter between them on the seat.
The guttural cries coming from that back seat as we lowered that tiny casket into the cold, cold ground are still as vivid to me today as they were all those years ago. Blame is often sought, and in this case, each parent blamed the other. How heart-wrenchingly sad!
But Laura's story does not end there. She knew, as I had confided in her, that I had lost a child, too, many years ago. She felt a sense of camaraderie there somehow and also knew that I had cared for her little girl with kindness and love.
She began to come to the funeral home occasionally to talk to me about her grief and sorrow. I told her that I certainly was not a counselor and that she needed to speak to someone much more qualified than me. One particular day she was especially upset and as soon as she left, I called her pastor and asked her to see her. Of course she immediately agreed and DID go to see her.
My job kept me very busy and I got on with other families and thought of her only occasionally. Her visits stopped.
But one day I got a call to go to the morgue and pick up a deceased suicide. Yes, there lay Laura covered with that white sheet on that cold, cold table. I will never forget her face for as long as I live. I could not embalm her myself. Not me.
She was bruised and battered. Suicide? I don't know.
The next day I met with Mark and with Laura's mother. Her mother accused Mark of beating her to death. Mark, of course, was defensive. It escalated into a shouting match. But all I could see was Laura, inconsolable over the loss of her child. Continuously reaching out for help. Help that she never found.
She is with Abby today and always. Buried beside her in a section reserved for babies only in that city. She is the exception.
Should I have done something different? Could I have?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Unless you live on another planet, you have by now heard the news that the "Charlie's Angels" girl with the iconic hairstyle has died today.
I have nothing to say that can add to or take away from all the other things you have read or heard today but I do have some thoughts to share.
Like so many of you, I was a young mother and a faithful viewer of "Charlie's Angels" and didn't even realize until today that Farrah was only there for one season. She was, absolutely, gorgeous. Everyone who could wanted their hair to look like hers. She did go on to star in a few other projects, most notably, a made-for-TV movie "The Burning Bed" that I saw many times. It was actually a good work and changed my thinking about her acting skills. Before I saw that movie, I assumed she was just another pretty face along with a perfect body to match.
Tonight I watched about 30 minutes of the Barbara Walters special about Farrah and her life. I stand amazed and enlightened about her courageous fight against this rare cancer she had. Anal cancer. I don't know anyone else who has fought this particular cancer. But cancer is cancer. It can definitely be a death sentence and I have lost members of my family to it and many friends.
I was surprised that she made the choice to videotape so much of her personal struggle but upon reflection, maybe not. Maybe showing her determination and her fight will help someone else to fight harder. To fight the fear.
Her Doctor says that she died pain-free, surrounded by people she loved in an atmosphere of peace and love and that her "transition" was easy. Yes, that is what we all hope for.
Rest in peace, Farrah.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon & Kate

I watch television very rarely and must confess that I have never seen "Jon & Kate Make Eight". But I don't think you have to actually WATCH the program to keep up with what's going on there, which is precisely why I don't watch it. How sad that yet another marriage has failed and now six children will have a broken family. Of course, what kind of life did they have anyway? From what I understand, this family was using the proceeds from the show to support their family. And now I read that the show has been cancelled. What a mess!

I also read today that Ed McMahon has died at the age of 86. I spent many nights after the children were tucked in and prayers were said watching good ole' Johnny Carson in my bed, but never without his faithful sidekick Ed. Ed, as many of you know, was his support and in many opinions, helped to make Johnny what he was. I know he had many problems in later years, maybe most of his own doing, but he was still and to the end, an entertaining guy. So long, Ed.

On to more current events, why can't they find the "black boxes" from the jet that went down a couple of weeks ago? I know it won't change the tragic outcome of that fateful flight, but perhaps some information could have been retrieved that could prevent it from happening again.

Guess I am thinking deep thoughts tonight and feel a need to share them.

Friends brought their grandchildren over again tonight to swim and that was entertaining. I finished cleaning out the storage facility after work where Mom had been storing things. They are now in my garage and the car will be outside for a while until I get things organized again.

My daughter and I are deep into the planning for our week at the beach. We'll check in on Independence Day and are co-ordinating menus and grocery lists. And yes, the new Ice Age movie is on the "to-do" list, along with a visit to Bellingrath Gardens and Mary's for the seafood buffet. I bought FIVE kites at Wally World the other day so we are well-stocked on that front. I wish my son and his family could/would go. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't and this year they have decided not to come.
It is after ten, the cat is out, the television is making noise in another room for this quiet house. I am overwhelmed with my personal "honey-do" list (as I am my own honey). It will get done, or not.
Ed McMahon is dead, Jon and Kate are divorcing, life marches on.........

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bits of Berlin

This was a gloriously beautiful fountain just outside the Brandenburg Gate in a rather large square and as you would expect, lots of tourists milling around. The one oddity I found most curious was this nice-looking man BATHING in the fountain waters. And yes, he even brushed his teeth. As I strolled around the fountain, I found on the BACK side a group with an infant.....whose baby bottle was filled with water from the fountain.
This is a shot in one taken as we waited for a train, well, somewhere in Berlin.

And this, I must share with you, was a PIG KNUCKLE that my brother Wayne ordered. And ATE.

As we were dining in an outside cafe that night, next to our table was this cute puppy. Very friendly and thirsty :)
Oh, how I loved the city of Berlin........

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day!

In tribute to my Dad, who died a year ago last month, I will post a few pictures tonight and celebrate this Fathers Day knowing he is in heaven with our heavenly Father. I miss him terribly still, but that initial grief has slowly been replaced with great memories, some not so great and a sense of comfort. This is a picture of Mom, Dad and me taken the summer after I moved to Hopkinsville, so that would have been the summer of 2000.
I just liked this picture of him taken at his kitchen table where he loved to be. I don't know when it was done, but I think before his diagnosis.

Yep, there he is again, at the table. It took Mom a long time to part with that old chair of his.

And of course, this was taken shortly before he died. Mom was so faithful to visit him EVERY day. She will never fully recover from the loss of Dad, but she is here in Hopkinsville now and neither of us are alone. (No, she won't live with me, though). She DID try to live with me when she first came here, but for some unknown reason, she couldn't wait to get out of here :)
I would think I would be a JOY to live with.
Anyway, Happy Fathers Day to all you dads out there. Yes, you will make mistakes along the way, but there's not a "rule book" for dads. Just be there. Be there.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

This place in the city of Berlin was amazing. I felt at once awed and overwhelmed with sadness that such a travesty could ever have happened. It is a very solemn place buzzing with tourists taking photos and children laughing, but the significance of the memorial is never lost. I don't know if you can see them in the picture above, but someone put a single tulip on each stone. They had already begun to wilt when we arrived, but they served as a reminder of each life lost. What a moment for me! I felt like weeping the whole time I was there, reading and remembering the books I have read and yes, even movies I have watched from this horrible era in history.
As evidenced by the paint job, this is a "Trabi" safari and is available for rent in Berlin. These are modeled after the old cars that were driven in the East. Wayne thought it was "cute" but for some reason didn't want to rent one.
I wish you could read this. It was, of course, at the site of the memorial and was quite complete in the narrative. It was written in German on one side and in English on the other.

This was quite a vast land mass right in the heart of the city. So many lives lost! And such a moving tribute to those people. Lest we forget.
The modern architecture (one striking building seen here) is amazing. And more amazing to me is how all the modern structures blend so well with the old..
I'll post more pictures next time as I weed through them all and relive my trip!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Berlin Blog

When last I left you relating tales of my spring trip to Germany, we were in Neuschwanstein. We were about to undertake the longest leg of our trip in one day, from Neuschwanstein to Berlin. Ah, Berlin. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself here. Travelling that day we endured the only rain I saw on the entire trip and boy, did it ever rain. We were still able to see some gorgeous sites. In the picture above, Wayne and Bridget say these are mustard fields. And they were EVERYWHERE....
My biggest thrill of that particular day was the McDONALD'S sign we spotted. Ya-hoo! Something other than schnitzel and boiled eggs to eat! I was so excited that I tore out of that car but not forgetting my camera!

This is just barely inside the door. I might not have been able to READ what it said, but I sure could point!
Okay, the hamburger was greaseless, but it was still a hamburger. Wayne wasn't too excited about stopping there, he truly wanted only German food the entire trip. I would have done anything, and I mean anything, for about a half pound of greasy fried bacon.

Okay, so this is what I stepped up to read, lol. Look how expensive everything was! And that was in Euros! I think the exchange rate was about $1.32 then.
Aha, ketchup for the fries. He finally got into the swing of things and we all had a GREAT meal!

Back to the car and the serious rain. Damion's brand new rental car had wiper troubles but other than that the trip was uneventful. The windmills we saw dotting the landscape everywhere were certainly not what I expected. They are sleek, metal and huge. Very expensive to construct but very energy-efficient, I understand.

Finally in Berlin! This sushi place was situated right next to our hotel. No, I don't eat sushi but have lots of friends who do and I thought might get a charge out of this place.

The view from my hotel room window was exciting. I could hardly go to bed for looking out the window with great anticipation of the next day! Berlin truly IS an exciting city, vibrant and alive with so much rich history and new technology.
My next and last few posts will originate from there. I promise I will stop blogging about this trip someday soon, but it was truly an experience I will never forget and one I wish you ALL could have.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 2009 Bunco

Tonight was our regularly scheduled bunco night and Angela was our hostess this time. She held it at Creative Silks, a local florist who happens to play with our club each month and is oh, so gracious to "share her space" with many of our group. Angela had a great meal prepared. Tiny hot dogs packed inside some delicious bread. I was VERY good and only had one. Chips and dip, a beautiful fruit salad and lemon something rounded out a perfect little meal to have before we got down to business. This business of DICE!
Of course, here's Frank, the only guy who plays with us and thought he had to WIN the grand prize. He really gets off on that somehow!

My two best friends Gwen and Gail chatting it up before we got started. They both always look so sharp and are both always so sweet. I am so blessed to have these gals in my life!

Here he is! Savoring his win. He won a gorgeous cake plate and if you turn it upside down, it becomes a really cool chip and dip dish. What did he say when he opened it? "Now somebody bake me a cake!" What a guy!

Lucky Duck at the Louisville Zoo

My daughter was so excited that she had signed up to chaperone FOUR kindergarten boys on a field trip for my grandson's school to the Louisville Zoo just 2 days after my Mom's BIG birthday event on Sunday. Monday I got a frantic phone call from her telling me she could NOT get off work! I just LOVE "saving the day" no matter how beat up I feel!! So of course, I took the day off MY work and drove the 3 hours to Louisville so 4 little boys could be chased all over the zoo under some supervision.....little did she know how secretly honored and thrilled I was to step in!
Not only was I getting to be with Tristin all day, but my granddaughter Sydney goes to the same school and in kindergarten, too, even though not in the same class. Lucky, lucky me :) I got to see her a LOT, too. She is the blond cutie in the picture above, the only one whose face you can see.

This is a group picture of ALL the kindergarteners that day. Whew! A lot of kids, but to tell the truth, there were a LOT of parents and grands there, too. And hey, we didn't lose a one of them.

My Tristin took a notion for about three weeks to wear his hair sticking straight up because he thought it just looked so "cool". That lasted until baseball season got in full swing and the batting helmet "messed up his do". He is so funny, that boy just cracks me up. Here he is being intimidated by a peacock. Isn't it beautiful? And it let him get so close! Okay, the peacock had him cornered and he knew it! (I wasn't far away, though.)

Here all the coolest guys at his school are looking over the map and choosing the route to take but bear in mind here, none of them can really read yet! Studying the map was a guy thing, I guess.

Here's our Sydney girl again sitting down to a picnic with her little group! I got lots of hugs and kisses that day!

At the petting zoo showing NO fear and trying to convince the others that it would be okay to pet them.

Eight of the most well-behaved little boys I have had the honor of spending time with!

How did Tristin measure up to a gorilla? Yikes! He's got some growing to do yet.

Here they all jammed together in a shipping crate for wild animals! Suitable on that day!

My little man is NOT shy about posing for the camera ! Besides, I think he wanted the opportunity to lie down for 10 seconds.

Two buddies hamming it up while waiting for the rest of the group to catch up.

There's our Syd again being sweet as ever. I was so glad to get to see her so much!

My boys were hot and tired after a whirlwind trip at the zoo. Getting a little rest and sun while waiting to load up the busses and head back to school to be picked up by their parents!

I had a great day with my #1 little man! And I'm even just a little bit sorry that his Mom didn't get to go (she really DID want to go).
As an aside, this little field trip happened just a week or so after my surgery. Tristin's teacher asked him "how will I KNOW your Mimi?".......typical 6 year-old response...... Oh, you'll know MY Mimi, she's the one with the stitches in her face!!! The teacher was still laughing when she shared that with me!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Relay for Life 2009

Tonight I am trying a "new" way to blog....well, okay new to me! I am sending this via email. They say it works, we will see.

This past Saturday night was MY first Relay for LIfe. My followers know that my Dad died in May 2008 from complications of lung cancer. I dedicated Saturday night to the memory of my Dad.
What fun it was! Now that I have been and have participated, I am sure I am a devotee for life!
Great food, fabulous fun and friends too numerous to count were everywhere! In the midst of such a tragic disease and loss, there was a "feel" of celebration in the air.

At 10:00 the lights of the football stadium were turned off and a bagpiper could be heard playing the strains of Amazing Grace. That was followed closely by the reading of the names of those lost to cancer, those fighting the fight and those honored as caregivers. It was a solemn hour or so and reminded all of us why we were there.
I am proud to have been a part of such an undertaking.

Maybe the monies raised in our county won't change the world, but at least I feel like I have contributed in some small way to making a difference.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June is Jumping!

June 3 was Sydney's 6th birthday! It's hard to believe she is 6 and that NOW I have TWO 6 year old grandchildren. I drove to the little town she lives in that is 2 1/2 hours from here after work for her little party through a continuous nightmare of a storm. She loved her cake and all her gifts. Most of her family was there and we all had a great time with her as she blew out her candles and opened her gifts. She is a very kind and sweet little girl. I am blessed yet again.
She and her cousin Tristin enjoyed cake together, as they enjoy EVERYTHING together when they are with each other. They are "best cousins" as they like to say and are inseparable. After the party Kristin (my oldest) had planned to come home with me and stay for a week. Sydney wanted to come, too! Her Mom wasn't comfortable with her being gone that long, so it was decided she would come home with us and they would pick her up Saturday. Grandmother's delight!
I got Sydney a Nintendo DS that she had wanted for her birthday and Kristin gave her lessons. Trust me, before she left here, she had all her games down pat! Kristin and Tristin each gave her a couple of games for her birthday.

On the first night here and after spending the day with MY mom while I worked, the girls wanted to go to Clarksville and see "UP" so off we went. This is a cute shot of them finding the right theater.
Big crowds to see "UP" as all these empty chairs can attest to. Look how dirty those seat backs are ?!?! I will remember not to lean back when I go next :) To tell the truth though, other people DID show up for the movie, but only 6 or 7.

Saturday came TOO quick along with lots of company. Sydney's Mom came to get her along with her other grandmother and Hayden and Elizabeth, my Mom came over as well as my niece and her family of four. I corralled her husband "the Man-Thang" as he is known, to do my grilling for me.
I made a beautiful salad in my trifle dish and yes, it tasted as good as it looked.
Phyllis and Barbie (my dil and her Mom) were looking through pictures made at my Mom's birthday event last month. I, of course, blogged about that shortly after it occurred.

After everyone left it was finally just Kristin and me and was PAST time to get out the trusty pool vac.

She loves the hot tub as well and Sophie cat loves HER! It was fun watching them play. Sophie truly wanted to get in there with her, but evidently not bad enough to DO it.

Her Papaw (my ex-husband and friend) came and stayed a couple of days before taking her home. This picture was of the last night here. She swam until very late that night and even coerced her Papaw into getting in with her.

What's a Mimi to do when Kristin says she LOVES roasted marshmallows? Build a fire, of course. On probably the hottest night we have had this year, I was in the back yard sweating gallons while she was in the shower, but when she got out........she roasted herself a few marshmallows.
I had to slip in this picture of her Papaw Tony watching her play in the pool. I think he had a good little visit here and even took my Mom out running errands (for TWO days).

Back to work the next morning with an invitation to my friends Mike and Gail's house for dinner. Gail tried her hand at making Beef Wellington for the first time and I was more than thrilled to be her first guinea pig!
It was as good as any I have ever ordered in a restaurant! She can cook for me anyday!
As a postscript, my blogging friend Kristi is in Ethiopia as I write this where she has gone to bring home the newest addition to her family, Lucy Lane. Please remember them in your prayers as she travels so far away and bring them home safely. Her blog is listed on the right hand side of blogs I follow........