All four of us worked with my dad for awhile starting when we were teenagers. My brother and sister, Kris got the most involved, my other sister wasn’t that interested and I definitely wasn’t interested. Here are the two main reasons for my lack of interest; no fun and bodily fluids.
When the bodies were all cleaned up and in the casket, I liked them. I liked to look at them. When I was little, sometimes I’d press on their hands with my finger. Of course, this was only when my dad wasn’t looking or was in the other room. Would you want your kid’s dirty fingers touching your work? There was something so harmless about them and I could look at them all I wanted. You know if you stare at someone who is alive, eventually they’re going to catch you.
But, before they were all cleaned up and in the casket, there were many reasons that I wouldn’t want to see them. I don’t think I have to tell you that dead bodies come in a wide variety of conditions and I’m not good with stuff like that. I don’t want to see, touch or smell anything gross. And that goes for any profession. I would never be a nurse because you have to deal with people’s bodily functions and fluids, and I would never be a dentist because I can’t imagine putting my fingers in someone’s disgusting mouth. Basically, I don’t want to touch people or their fluids and I don’t want to see anything that is supposed to be on the inside of your body on the outside of your body. And I definitely don’t want to smell anything bad. If I did, I’d ride the bus.
When I worked for my dad, I would greet the people at the door and just keep an eye out for anyone that needed anything, but that got old because let’s face it, funerals aren’t that fun. I remember one time my sister Kris and I worked on and a funeral and it was at the very end of it before my dad would close the casket and go to the church for the service. This very old lady was sobbing because her husband of 55 years was in the casket, and she was telling him how much she was going to miss him. It was so sad that my sister and I almost started crying. Our eyes were filled with tears and my dad saw us and shot us a look of “pull it together, you are not allowed to cry” because you can’t get emotional when you are supposed to be acting professionally.
That was one of the last times I worked for my dad. I didn’t want to be sad for those people. In that business you have to be able to detach emotionally, and for some reason I suck at that. Wouldn’t that be weird if the funeral director was crying while you were trying to make arrangements for your loved one?
But the bottom line is that it’s a sad business and I didn’t want to be in a sad business, I’d rather be in a soul-sucking business like entertainment :). But I knew early on what I wanted to do and that was just reinforced being surrounded by the funeral business because I knew whatever I pursued would have to be fun…not that it’s all been fun, but probably better than a funeral.
My brother did the most as far as dealing with the bodies and I will get some good stories from him for you. He would go to the city morgue and weird stuff like that. My sister Kris did a lot of the business side of it, and my oldest sister was busy dating and painting her Lee press-ons while I was listening to music, taking dance lessons and plotting my escape.