Timing is All

Conducting a funeral yesterday in a room 6ft by 8ft, containing seven people and a coffin presents some difficulties, but non insurmountable. Timing is all at these events especially when the body has to be moved across town mid proceedings. It’s the funeral directors we have to thank for ensuring everybody is in the right place at the right time. And to leave afterwards, briskly. Thankfully all went well with both the Funeral at the funeral home and the Memorial at the crematorium afterwards. Fifty, very sad, people attended.

Funeral directors perform a much needed service and they do it with dignity and firmness. Being sensitive to the potential wrath from those in charge I was keyed up to keep within our alloted time! At the last moment I discovered we actually had forty five minutes from getting everybody in to getting them out. Ceremonies happen one after the other in quick succession in busy Crematoriums so I guess that fifteen minutes ease room is there for over running or unforeseen circumstances. At the very last moment the director gave me his last and closely kept secret. The clock in the Crematorium is set five minutes fast! As it happened we were all done and finished in twenty.

One thing about death is that it is hard to predict timing. Funeral Directors are always on call to go and pick up bodies at any time of the day or night and in all possible conditions. They are often on the scene with the police and often the ones who first console the shocked and bereaved. They face death every day of the week, it’s their business. And they retain a sense of humour, behind the scenes.

Well, there is one creature, Oscar the cat, who has made predicting the time of death his business. In his innocence he is providing a service for relatives and friends so they can be present at the scene of death, before the Undertakers.

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7 thoughts on “Timing is All”

  1. The story about Oscar was featured on TV news here recently. All I know is that several cats I’ve had have been very sensitive if I’ve been ill & have often sat with me & comforted me. OK so they like a person to be still & warm in bed but I think there is more to it than self-interest on the cat’s part.
    When I came back from hospital last time my cat knew immediately that his companionship was needed & hardly left my side for 2 days non-stop. I would like to think a feline would be present with me when I die.

  2. And ‘afterwards’ too eh Angie? It’s a thought that often crosses my mind when Tora wakes me before dawn and sets off in the dark purposefully in front of me with that “this way to the food bowl boss” look about him

  3. Consider the occupation of funeral director: it isn’t one of those mentioned in children’s rounds of “Iwannabe a . . .when I grow up.” And with whom do they socialize? Can they converse socially about their occupation, offer workplace anecdotes at the family dinner table, etc.

    A priceless service they perform.

    As for Oscar, Bravo!
    Having the good fortune to be purred to sleep each night, I can appreciate the comfort he must bring.

  4. I just heard from my friends who took my cat, Hugo, when I moved to Germany…he was already 16 years old when I moved to Germany, so the vet advised not bringing him because of the stress. Anyway, Hugo has been nicknamed “The Immortal” since he is now in his early twenties and has survived many illnesses. However, he just had a stroke and my best friends had to take him to the vet…he was completely paralyzed and the vet said she should probably put him to sleep…my friends agreed and were in tears, as well as the vet, and as she was ready to inject him, he suddenly lifted his head and bit her finger! The little orange boogerhead is now recovering! The vet said he has truly earned his name: “The Immortal”. As I have learned living far away from home, the heavy weight of others dying before I can/ could arrive is not so easy.

  5. Margaret, I hope to do a ‘feature’ on the woman undertaker who helped take us through the proceedings on Friday. As an ex show girl, who had traveled the world and ran her own stage school, she had every possible qualification and positive attribute to be a highly successful funeral director. There was not a scrap of reticence about talking of her profession. Over the dinner table? Probably not! “It’s my life, I love it”, she said.

    And to Angie, Iain, Jack and Margaret again. I know you are all crackers about cats and who wouldn’t be. Jacks cat wins first prize though.

    Thanks to Jack for passing on the Oscar story. There is another cat news story on it’s way via Iain.

    I do appreciate being sent links that can be shared here. Many thanks.

  6. I have a book which I haven’t yet read, which was recommended to me -called ‘The Undertaking. Life studies from the dismal trade’ by Thomas Lynch.He was an American undertaker & it’s stories along that theme. Looks quite funny.

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