Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All grown up

Thinking about careers and what we want to be when we grow up reminded me of my Dad.

I rarely talk about him because really, nothing my Dad does is wrong. The Mominator, on the other hand, she's a totally different story. But my Dad.... no man can compare.

My Dad is in real estate in commercial sales. He is the sales manager at his office, and a LOT of people know my Dad. I could walk into a crowded room full of strangers, ask if anyone knows my Dad, and half the room would raise their hands.

We were on a plane to London, and my Dad knew two of the passengers. We were IN London on another trip, walking around and my Dad ran into three people he knew. And my Dad isn't a world traveler. These trips to London were his only overseas exposures, and they were always with a group of high school students.

Being in real estate has exposed my Dad to a lot of people, so that is where many of them know him.

But there are those people who say things to me like "your Dad .. he's such a wonderful man ... he did such a nice job burying my mother."

You see, my father was a mortician. And a pretty successful one at that. He co-owned one of the two funeral homes in our hometown in the 1970s. And man ... are there some stories.

I was younger when my Dad was a funeral director, so I don't remember a lot of it, but I do remember going with him to the home when he would head into work, and I would walk to school from there. I remember walking in through the garage and always trying to get a peek at "the room"... the one where I was, under NO circumstances, allowed. The embalming room. Of course, when I was little, I just knew of it as the room with a steel table and some really weird looking things. But that was all I could see from the glimpses I would steal. My brother and sister remember much more, but they will never tell me whether they were allowed in the room or not. It was the family secret.

I would watch Dad put finishing makeup touches on the bodies. It never bothered me. I never really paid much attention to the fact that these people were dead. I just thought of it as my Dad's job. And he WAS good at it. He was compassionate and caring, a good listener, and genuinely concerned about the family's well-being.

Mominator would tell stories about how they used to live over the funeral home before it was moved to the location I remember (and where it still stands). She would recount times when a friend of hers would come over and yell "yoohoo!" up the stairs while calling hours were going on. She told of a time during a funeral when her washer overflowed and started leaking down the walls right next to the casket, and how quickly my Dad could maneuver those stairs. She told of a time when my brother was bouncing a ball .. right over the casket ... and it remotely sounded like a hearbeat.

While that would creep a lot of people out, my Dad was an excellent mortician. He had a falling out with his co-owner (a drunkard who forced my Dad out of the business when he tried to do something unethical and my Dad called him on it ... nothing with the bodies ... something with sales), and Dad was so bitter over the breakup and demise of his share of the business that he just stopped.

Stopped cold turkey from the profession that he had gone to Pittsburgh to learn. Stopped cold turkey the only thing he knew. Stopped cold turkey something so inherently specialized that left him with not a lot of options. Times were strained at my house. I remember my mother asking me if I would rather live with her or my Dad ... something you don't ask an eight year old because she will remember it when she is 36.

They worked through it, though and he looked at a career in sales ... some type of sales ... because he was pretty good at it. He chose real estate.

My Dad is awesome. No man can compare... because really, how many men would I find out there who started putting makeup on dead bodies and now motivates others to become better sales people?


Blogger jayne d'Arcy said...

I, too, grew up with my dad having a morbid job - he sold caskets. I can't tell you how many times kids joked, "does your dad lie down on the job?" My dad had a very good relationship with his funeral home clients and often helped out at the local ones if ever they were short-handed. That sometimes included driving a hearse in to Jefferson City, or St. Louis to pick up a body.

It's nice to know that I'm not alone in having a slightly weird childhood.

1:39 PM  
Blogger The "Mind" said...

This brings back memories of my grandmother picking out a casket for my grandfather. She insisted on a particular one because it matched the coffee table in her livingroom. *WHA?!*

Have I said that my family is a little off?

2:59 PM  
Blogger Knitting Maniac said...

Oh that is priceless, Sue!

3:56 PM  

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