Funerals and Families

My big brother Shane had the opportunity to work with my granddad every summer while he was in high school. He spent the last few days of Granddad's life hanging around the farm catching up with family and remembering his hero.

My big brother Shane had the opportunity to work with my granddad every summer while he was in high school. He spent the last few days of Granddad’s life hanging around the farm catching up with family and remembering his hero.

When I was a senior in high school, my best friend’s mom tried to give me some career counseling. That was her job – she was actually the careers teacher and counselor at my high school. While I waited for Debbie to work out the kinks for my newspaper internship, she asked me to do all the computerized tests which would show me good matches for my skill levels and interests. I took the tests though when I got the results, I was baffled. The thing that had tainted my results was the salary piece. How much money did I expect to make a year? Obviously, the top category, I mean – I was the class valedictorian, the student of the month for scholarship, and my parents’ most brilliant child. That high tier salary along with my skills signaled one special career for me: funeral director.

I know. I did not follow the computer’s advice. Instead, I became an English major and started a career in… I’m still not sure at age 31. (Just kidding – I’ve worked in education in various levels since I graduated.)

But you know how they say that life has a way of working in circles. (Wait. What? No one says that? I just did. So… there.) Well – life does work in circles and this past week, after my grandfather passed away, I’ve gotten to see a small, very narrow glimpse into what it takes to plan a funeral. There are the flowers, the food, the obituary, and a bunch of stuff I haven’t actually had to help with.

In reality, I’m not doing any of the work – it’s all on my parents and my dad’s siblings. My job is more like the funeral director’s – I sit around and talk to the family and make sure they know what they want. (Let’s be real – I’ve never read a position description of a funeral director so I’m sort of just imagining what they do.)

I was around when my dad worked on writing my Granddad’s obituary. It gave me goosebumps to listen to him read and choke up when he got to certain parts. I was so proud of my dad even though he was stressed, sad, and sometimes lost his ability to breath. I joked that we needed to get him a tattoo on his wrist that says, “Just breathe,” because he doesn’t always remember to do that.

My mom dragged me along to do the funeral shopping at Costco. When we were in the checkout line, the lady looked over at me and asked, “You getting married?” My mom answered that we were planning for a memorial service. I wish I were getting married, though. That would be a hoot!

The part of this funeral planning I didn’t anticipate has been the random hangouts with relatives. In the past, I always relished the time I had with my Bunn relatives, but as I’ve gotten older and moved around a few places, I’ve lost touch. It’s easy to do – we get preoccupied with our own lives and interests that we forget about the family that loved us when we went through the ugly phases and helped us get into mischief every now and again. I think this ability to reconnect with family is how Granddad’s funeral is circling me back the past, but with a fresh energy, if you can imagine what I mean.

Though I’m glad I never followed my ultimate career path to becoming a funeral director, I sure am fond of this week. I’m sure I should be crying more or wearing black, but I’m sort of enjoying the continual surprise I feel as I reconnect with all the people my grandfather’s very existence brought into my life.

Tata for now.

Rece

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