Bring a chair for Rigor Mortis to set in!

This past week one of Johnny’s closest friends lost his Father.  Johnny was good friends with him and it was hard to see him go.  Having said that, I was somewhat delighted at the opportunities that this presented.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a teensy obsession with death and the subsequent ceremonies.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m never happy that someone has died, but I’m keenly fascinated with the aftermath.  How they became dead isn’t of interest, but everything after that completely captivates me.

Johnny came home on Monday evening and moped into the kitchen.  “You ready to go to the visitation”?, he asked.

Now here’s where I should have bridled my enthusiasm.

“Are you kidding?”, I chirped, “I’ve been looking forward to this all day”!
Before I could help myself I eagerly grabbed Johnny’s arm.  “Oh, honey, I hope it’s open casket”!


It was indeed open casket and I found myself fighting back the urge to just reach out and touch the deceased.  Nothing too outrageous, just like a stroke of his finger or something.  C’mon, I wasn’t going to reach out and beep his nose, for the love of God.  I was able to contain myself, thankfully.  But I couldn’t stop staring.  I’d give anything to sit in on the embalming procedure.

How I love a funeral home.  The hushed and revered silence when you walk in.  The peach carpet coupled with the kiwi davenport.  The artificial flowers.  The caretakers and funeral directors themselves.  They are usually older gentlemen and have almost a mafia-like presence.  They are deaths ushers, and a unique society.  They comfort and console.  They give the deceased respect and dignity while their mortal remains get to their final destination.  I adore the entire procession.  There’s just something lovely about the ritual of death.

I’ll be the first to admit that I almost didn’t make it back to my house when I picked up my Dad’s cremated remains.  I remember being taken aback at just how heavy the box was.  I think “ashes” are misleading.  It’s more like a box filled with clumpy sand and bone parts.  I was surprised at this.  There was really nothing macabre or gory about it.  Slightly disappointing.

The above video is a wee bit inaccurate, but still hilarious so we’ll go with it.

My Dad was the Sexton of our hometown cemetery and often I would tag along with him to work.  I suppose that’s where my love of the dead began.  There was just something about the peace of the cemetery and the artistry of the headstones.  I used to ride my bike throughout the cemetery and often look for names I recognized. My parents drove a big black hearse dubbed “Lucy” around that time.  They also owned an antique store and it was even roomier than your standard station wagon for transporting vintage finds.  My little brother and I loved rolling around in the back in the 1970’s – no seatbelt laws!  I’ve often wondered if I missed my calling and should have pursued a career in Funeral Services.  I think it’s mainly a male dominated field but I feel like I’d have been good at it.

Then again, I can just picture it.

Widow:   Well, he looks good.
Me:  No kidding!  What with him being dead and all.
Widow:  *blink*
Me:  Don’t get me started on the “stiff” jokes!

Maybe I should just stick with riding my bike through cemeteries.

2 thoughts on “Bring a chair for Rigor Mortis to set in!

  1. Jen, normally I don't recommend books to strangers.. but after reading this I had to ask if you've ever read Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. There is almost 18 of them and the first is about to be released as a movie with Kathryn Hegl.There are a LOT of funeral home stuff in this light & humorous romp of New Jersey. I think you'll identify with Grandma Mazer on a whole new level.First book is One for the Money… I bet its in the local library. Maybe. lol If you can't find it.. I'll ship ya mine!

  2. Sour says:

    Let me know if you are ever in the Houston area. I have a family member that owns and runs a funeral home (and against common perception, it is an early-30s, newly married female). The funeral home has been in their family for almost 100 years. I can give you backstage access. And, if you are lucky, they might even have a few bodies on board.Now, do I win the creepy award?

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