You can feel it……

I am trying to get back out and enjoy life like I did before COVID. After a year off from most social interaction I was excited to go and do things again, even simple errands were more attractive now. There’s a change that has happened and you can feel it in the air.

I’m talking about hostility. I have encountered so many people who are so upset about the smallest of things, whether it be road rage, or some slight they think another has given them, to hateful attitudes towards service workers. Now I realize these people have been with us all along, but this is different. This isn’t just a once a year encounter, this is a daily event. Did we stay inside so long that we have completely forgotten how to treat our fellow man? Have we suffered such enormous set backs from COVID that we are just angry all of the time?

I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s definitely different and you can feel it in the air around you.

National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day

I know that my title is not an attention grabber and that’s ok. I want to personally recognize this group of people that have made my life easier. This particular group, until you need them and chances are you will need them one day, are there for people at their saddest and most vulnerable moment. The first encounter I had with a funeral director was when I was 19. My oldest brother died in an accident and the family was gathered at the funeral home trying to make arrangements. My parents couldn’t put aside their hurt and anger long enough to bury my brother so they turned and said “ask Missy what she wants”. I was stunned, I wasn’t a parent. I wasn’t even an adult , really. This poor funeral director pulled me aside and walked me through the decisions with such kindness and understanding I couldn’t have made it through that day , or the funeral to come. I don’t remember his face at all just his ability to understand my humiliation, my pain, and my lack of knowledge. He saved that day from being one that could have left me hardened and pissed off.

I have had too many encounters with other funeral homes and the employees that have helped me and I have had people with the same kindness and concern at each one. We may not like talking about what a service these individuals provide , or maybe we tell ourselves that we wouldn’t want to have one as a friend, but I tell you it would make your life better if you did. In recognition of those who provide this service, I say THANK YOU!

Missy

Choices in Death

I know it may seem odd since my business is cemetery decorations but I like the idea of green burial. It’s more than just the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in a word-simple. I think it’s important to have one final decision in life and that is how your death or life will be celebrated. Now this is not a simple choice if you have a child that has proceeded you in death, a husband, a sibling, a partner. I had to make choices for my family members without knowing exactly what they wanted. I tried to make decisions that were appropriate, respectful, and loving but those were choices I made for them, and it was a long time before I forgave myself for something I had no control over. My parents, and siblings have been gone for over 25 years and the pain doesn’t flood me as it once did. The deaths just came suddenly but not surprisingly. I lost my mother, younger brother, and father all within 9 months. I had already buried my stepfather and my oldest brother, and my middle brother would follow in just a few years. I was afraid, afraid to talk to them about death even though most of them were inevitable, but it was so much simpler to just put it away in the back of my mind. What I wasn’t prepared for is I would be the only decision maker, the only one left to make those choices.

My brothers birthday, November 22, 1962

I started making my crosses over 20 years ago. I lost most of my childhood family and I needed to process my grief. These crosses came to me one night while I was lying in bed. It wasn’t until ten years later that my daughters would convince me that others would also like my crosses. And the rest as they say is history, no it’s my life.

My youngest brother was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1962. My mother would make him a pumpkin pie every year for his birthday. She said it was his favorite but I think it was her way of paying him back for the Thanksgiving she missed in 1962. My brother would celebrate his first birthday with pumpkin pie of course but it was not a happy celebration as that was the day that President Kennedy was shot and died of his injuries.

I had to call the caretaker and ask that his stone and that of my other brother be lifted. Twenty years of Kansas weather can bury a headstone.

My brother would die on New Years Eve of 1999, yet another holiday that would not be celebrated for years following his death. I always like to make something special for his grave celebrating his life, his birthday. His favorite color was orange and so it is very easy to decorate his grave for Fall. This year I decided to break from this tradition and decorate his grave with a bright green and yellow wreath I made. The wreath is thick enough and just heavy enough to be held by his vase alone. Very cheerful, he was a very cheerful kid.

Another small Kansas Cemetery

Like every state in the union Kansas has many small Cemeteries. Mount Zion is one such cemetery. This quiet little piece of green earth is along highway 160 and almost appears as a highway rest stop. Some of the earliest buried there are from the 1800’s with the latest burial in 2020. Mount Zion was once referred to as the Kellogg Cemetery. I can only assume that the cemetery sits on land that was once owned by the Kellogg family. There are four Kellogg family members laid to rest there in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When you visit this cemetery of roughly 200 souls on Find A Grave you will notice two things; one the family names are repetitive and very few died of old age. The Hubbard family have 7 children all under the age of 17 buried there, all with different dates and years of death. The Hubbard parents and extended family are not laid to rest there, which makes one wonder if they had too much of the Kansas prairie and left for a better life and less painful memories.

A park, a tree, and a memorial

I have changed my mind several times as to what I want done with my body when I am gone. I have at this older age made my decision and it is my final choice. Unfortunately my past has made me think of this more than others might. I have personally planned every family members funeral. I spoke at most of them. I have learned what I don’t want. I walk for an hour each day for exercise and for my dog, he loves the walks. There is a park very close to my house and I have walked through it thousands of times. A friend pointed out the marker one day as we walked together. It has sunken a bit but it sits by a tree , a tree that was planted in honor of his passing. Of course most cities would never give permission to allow such a tree planting or a marker placed but 30 years ago they did. I’m sure others have found it over time and others will find the maker in the future. What a nice place in a park, under a big tree.

Change – it happens

I think one of the best things about being born and living your entire life in the same city is nothing really changes, not really. Yes new streets are paved and old ones torn out, buildings go up and are torn down, people move into the city and move out, but your memories in the city never change. I can drive down any street in my city and it will bring back a memory, some sad, some not. Change is hard for all of us to some degree or another. Most of us when we are young we see change but it doesn’t seem to bother us a lot. Now as we age we have a tendency to resent change. I’m sure you have heard others say, “ things were better in our time” or “things aren’t as good as they used to be” These statements are true of course, or maybe you just roll your eyes when you hear someone older than you express that sentiment. The loss of someone you love is heartbreaking and of course this brings change. Change you are never ready for , but still it comes- relentlessly. I have found this to be true , this time right now, this very moment is everyone’s moment. As long as you are alive this is your time.

Death and COVID 2020

The weather has been warmer and my walks have been longer. I live in a neighborhood that has parks, sidewalks, and friendly neighbors. I ran into a neighbor that I heard had lost his wife in 2020 , but I had not had the chance to tell him personally how sorry I was. His booming voice called me over and I told him how sorry I was to hear of his wife’s passing. He and his wife would walk in good weather even after hip and knee replacements. His voice started to break as he talked about her. My heart broke as I listened. He explained that the “virus took her”. I finished my walk and began to think about everything he had said. This couple was not young but they took good care of each other. They got their flu shots, pneumonia shots, and went to the doctor annually. I thought even beyond his loss and about the total loss of life to COVID. To date 500,000.00 people have died of COVID in the United States. If you consider for one moment that each life lost affects 10 other people spiritually, emotionally, and financially then that total comes to 5 Million. Five million + souls walking around in 2020 trying to understand what happened. Be kind people, it was a very hard year.