Thursday, October 1, 2009

Culture shock!

Well, we have been here in California for about two months now and it hit me full force today that we ain't in Kansas (or Michigan) anymore Toto...

See, we went to the funeral of my wife's Uncle Ron today. Now, funerals I expect are much the same across the country with the exception being the religion practiced by the individual and/or their family. But it is what happened AFTER the service that left me in awe and made me realize that I am definitely NOT from around here. What follows is my account of the events directly after the service at the Funeral Home...

After the conclusion of the service folks sorta milled about until Uncle Ron was placed into the hearse and then they started making their way to their respective means of conveyance. The parking lot was laid out in such a way that the vehicles were parked into rows to facilitate a smoother exiting of the parking lot and into the funeral procession. Or at least that was clearly evident to me... such was NOT however the case! Some people started jockeying their way around other parked vehicles toward the exits in a most disorderly fashion and the hearse had not even moved yet but it was what followed that sorta had me ill at ease... as the hearse left the parking lot there was no rhyme nor reason to which vehicle left after or followed this way or that... it was CHAOTIC to say the least! You'd have thought the hare was racing around the track rail and all of us were hounds trying to catch it. Then as we finally made our way into the procession there was noone to direct traffic and the other motorists simply went about their business as if we in the procession were just leaving a softball game or some such. There was simply no consideration made whatsoever for the deceased or the family and friends of said person!

Now I know that I come from a rather small town in the Midwest and that we do things a little differently there but COME ON! Seriously?!? Where I come from, when a funeral procession passes by (you'll know them because all the vehicles have their lights on and there are little magnetic flags fluttering on the hoods of the cars and trucks) people take a second to pay their respects, even if they don't know who the person is/was. Traffic on the other side of a divided highway comes to a stop, construction workers will pause and take of their hats holding them over their hearts and bowing their heads, the procession stops for nothing short of a police car or fire truck... in short, all who are witness to such an event act in a far different manner than I witnessed today. Is life in this "Golden State" so incredibly hectic and fast paced that a person can't take a minute or two to at the very least be respectful to the newly departed? Perhaps say a prayer on his/her behalf? WOW... This is really very sad to me, that so little attention is paid to those that are now gone from us. What is next? Are we to be sent to a recycling facility and that's that? Where's Aunt Josie? Oh, she passed away last week and we mulched the garden with her...

Now most of you know that I am still trying to find my spiritual path. I don't consider myself a religious person but I DO consider myself a spiritual person. And as most of you are very aware, I am battling a life threatening disease and death is a very real possibility as I know that it is for all of us. Any one of us could try to cross the street and be hit by a bus at any given moment, but for me, it is so much more than real, it is literally IN MY FACE with every waking minute. As you may imagine, I have thought a lot about death... where I want to be buried after I am gone, what I want the service to be like, it is after all MY party right? But if this is how it is to be... well, I may just want to go home and have my coffin placed on a hay wagon and have it pulled by a team of draft horses through downtown on my way to the cemetery. Maybe even have it put in the back of my old pick-up truck and have my friends take me out to the woods for a good old fashioned bonfire... At least I'll get a little respect along the way.

Until then (yeah, I plan on it being quite a long while...) lets all slow down just a little and help a stranger along on the final leg of his journey, can we?

Rest in peace Uncle Ron, I hope the pace is just a bit slower up there...


  1. Tracy, I'm so sorry you had to experience this. People can be very self-serving sometimes. I think everyone is in such a hurry nowadays that they don't remember to take the time to appreciate what's around them...or to respect the passing of another human being. I can understand why you felt the way you did. I'm from the midwest too and know what it is to stop on the side of the road and watch a procession as it proceeds. To take a moment to feel something for someone I probably never met. Heck, I feel something for the poor animal on the side of the road who got hit by a car. I'm not a religious person either, but I can respect other people's beliefs. Just remember all the good caring people out there who are just living day by day trying their best to figure out what they can. Every once in a while someone can surprise you with their kindness. Life can be so cruel and so beautiful at the same time. I talked with my brother yesterday, and he is dealing with his own issues as well. The idea of one day not being able to call him, because he isn't there anymore upsets me deeply, but I'm thankful for each time he answers that phone and I'm still able to hear his voice. It's awesome that you are writing this blog. You have a way with words. I love how blunt you are. I love that it's in your face real. For Sarah's Uncle Ron, may he rest in peace. I hope you have a better day today. Maybe something or someone will inspire you. I live with hope every day.

    Big hugs, Tammy

  2. Yes Tracy,, that is the way we do it in good old Three Rivers,we reepect the Funeral and the things that are done for the person who has pass away. Marcia and I send our repecet to Sharah, the famliy of you who family. God be with you all.

  3. Not all funerals are like that in California.

    When my grandpa died many years ago, the car procession passed an old man in the truck. As the hearse passed this man, the man took off his cowboy hat and placed it on his chest as if giving respect. I will never forget the gesture this man made.

    I think of you and Sarah often-

  4. I think maybe the funeral home did not plan the procession very well. I've seen respectful processions in CA, so take heart... they do exist. That being said, respect is something that is dwindling in society. No respect for authority, for others, for people's belongings, etc...
    It's sad, but true,
    No respect for life. The "Life" part of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is losing its value.