2017-07-12 “Family Gatherings”

Growing up, there were times of the year when our extended families would come together…one of them being the summer picnic. Because we didn’t travel far or often back then (going to London was a big thing), the summer picnic was a significant event.  Everybody who came was well dressed…my mother and my aunts all wore dresses, my father and uncles wore trousers and pressed shirts.  Everybody brought lots of homemade food in picnic baskets and it all tasted great.  We played games and nobody lost…there were penny candies for prizes and the winners probably got two candies instead of one…we were all happy.  Sometimes our family picnics were held at Rondeau Park but more often they were held at my aunts and uncles houses.  I read a book a while ago that reminded me of our family picnics…as the author stated, “the date was carefully chosen to accommodate the work routine of the farmers.  By that time, the first cutting of hay was put in the mow of the barn…”  I remember the tables being set up and bales of straw for seats!  As a young teenager, one of the things my cousins and I liked to do was to wander around and check out the cars and since my mothers side of the family was large, there were lots of cars to see…one time two of my Uncles bought the exact same car and my cousin Stuart always could be counted on to have one of the latest and best cars like his orange Pontiac GTO “The Judge”.  Those times all seem so simple now and family reunions are fading.  I’ve heard so many people say that their families only get together at weddings and funerals…that’s unfortunate, but I understand that.  Many nights we are here past visitation times while people “catch up” and it’s all good.  We’ll never make you feel uncomfortable regardless of how long you stay.

Until next week,

Marc

2017-07-05 “Baling Hay”

As I sit at my desk getting ready to write this musing, I am remembering the many “last days of school” that took place in our house over the years and the special ways that we celebrated it. It’s funny how things change over the years.

I was raised on a dairy farm just outside of Ridgetown. I don’t really remember how we would have celebrated the last day of school…whatever it was that we did was probably overshadowed for me by the hay in the field that was ready to baled the next day now that I was home.  If I had any dreams about sleeping in, they would have been dashed by the early morning chores that needed to be done, the grass that needed to be cut and the weeds that needed to be pulled in the garden.  I’m sure that I grumbled a bit when I had to do those things.  Actually, I’m sure that I grumbled a lot!!  One of my father’s constant sayings was that “work comes before play”…that was a value that we were raised by.  And so after we baled all of the hay, he would give me 25 cents and let me ride my bike into town to go to the public swimming pool.

When someone dies and I meet with their families, we talk about memories. Memories come in all shapes and forms.  Sometimes a memory is as simple as “I remember playing baseball in the back yard” or “I remember the picnics in Rondeau Park” or maybe even “I remember having a wiener roast on the last day of school”.  You would be surprised at how simple some of the best memories in life are…and they didn’t cost a dime.  The most precious possessions that you will have in life are the memories you have, not the things you own.

I don’t know if baling hay will ever be one of those best memories for me or swimming in the public pool either for that matter. If only my father would have believed me when I tried acting too sick to bale hay…now that would have been a great memory but it never worked!

Until next week,

Marc.

2016-06-21 “What’s Important”

And so the question was raised “I’m nervous going to a funeral home when someone dies. What am I supposed to do?” This is an answer from a lady who lost her husband…

The best thing to do at a funeral is just go. I didn’t know the majority of the people who were at my husbands funeral, and yet, the fact that they came for him made me feel so good. Especially those work friends he’d talked about but that I’d never met. And my kids friends, and their parents! He wasn’t my kids father, but that my kids friends came to support them was amazing to me too.

What to wear? I don’t remember what anyone wore, I know I wasn’t offended by anything out of the ordinary, but then again, I was too busy with my own thoughts to worry if Aunt Tooties dress was too short or if Uncle Don went out and bought a new pair of dress pants.

People came to view the body, some touched, some didn’t, but that was ok too. I held his hand the whole time. At one point, a woman I don’t even know (part of his family, great aunt? Cousin?) came in with a camera. I saw her quickly put it in her purse, embarrassed. I asked, would you like to take a picture? She said yes, and we had a nice conversation about how some people think it’s weird or disrespectful, but I’ve got funeral pictures of family back to when cameras were first invented.

I know I’m just one person, and I know all people are different, but those are just my opinions. I think it’s better to come and support then to stay at home. The family might not even realize you were there, but having people there is important.

How sad if everyone was too afraid to go, and so no one came?

Until next week,

Marc

2016-06-07 “Friends”

When someone dies, much of the concern that we show is directed to that person’s family, and rightly so. But there are significant people in everyone’s life who will also grieve a loss…those people who we call “friends”. Webster’s Dictionary includes the definition of friend to be a favoured companion and in that vein, it is reasonable that friends as well as families will grieve. Friends will go through all of the same stages of grief that I have written about before, only I think that the onset may be different…it could be delayed a bit if friends don’t live together and are not in each other’s daily lives.

For everyone, the first stage of grief is shock and disbelief which is what helps us get through those initial days and which is why the loss seems to hurt more as time goes on. One day you will go to do one of those “friend things” and it will hit you that Jane is really not there. And you’ll be sad and you’ll be angry and maybe for awhile you may not feel like doing “friend things” because it hurts too much or because you feel guilty for having fun without her. Maybe without really understanding what is going on you will go to a place where it doesn’t hurt so much and throw yourself into doing things to an extreme like working or shopping or baking. And then, as Oprah says, you’ll have an “aha” moment when you realize what’s going on and why you’re doing the things you’re doing and you can begin to heal.

In one of my favourite songs by Michael W Smith called “Friends Are Friends Forever” he sings about losing friends and he sings “We’ll keep you close as always; it won’t even seem you’re gone. ‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways will keep the love that keeps us strong. Though it’s hard to let you go in the Father’s hands we know that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends”.

Until next week,

Marc

2017-05-17 “The River”

I have seen a lot of changes in the Funeral industry over the last 36 years since I earned my Funeral Directors license. I feel that the most welcomed changes to the way we operate as Funeral Homes have been the changes that were initiated by you. I have been a part of some incredible life experiences because of you and it is a privilege to help you achieve whatever it is that you need.

When it comes to being a Funeral Director, I am one of the most non-judgmental people you will ever meet. I don’t believe that there are any silly questions or ideas when it comes to funerals so don’t hesitate to say what it is that you want.  I always say that you won’t regret the things that you do, just the things that you wanted to do but were afraid to ask.  From a traditional funeral service to a basic cremation service, my promise to you is that I will do my very best to make your remembrance whatever it is that you want it to be.

It can be a challenge in any business to adapt to the changing needs of consumers. While some businesses will try to “re-route the river” for their own needs, what generally happens is that the river will end up going in the direction that it wanted to go in the first place.  And so what we need to do is accept river current and be able to offer some innovative ways of navigating it.

Follow your heart.

 

Marc

2017-05-24 “Transfers”

Sometimes a thought that goes through a person’s mind is that they wish that their pre-arranged funeral was held at a different Funeral Home. Can that happen?  Absolutely!  In fact, it happens more than you know!

If you are the owner of a pre-arranged funeral and wish to transfer it to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home, it is as simple as visiting us with your existing paperwork and making your wishes known. We will take care of the rest.

If you have Power of Attorney for someone and your wish is that his/her pre-arranged funeral be transferred to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home, it is as simple as visiting us with your power of attorney and existing paperwork and making your wishes known. We will take care of the rest.

If you’re at a hospital or nursing home and have just experienced a death and wish that your loved one’s funeral service would be held at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home instead of the Funeral Home where a pre-arrangement is held, then you as the executor can make that decision. Simply tell whoever will make the initial call which Funeral Home you wish to use and they will follow your direction.  We will take care of the rest.  If it is you who will make that call, follow your heart.

While some Funeral Homes may charge a cancellation fee when you transfer your pre-arranged funeral, we do not. In fact, if you are charged that fee by another Funeral Home, we will reimburse it to you.

What are some of the reasons that people have transferred their funeral arrangements to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home?

  • Their original arrangements were made a long time ago and they have changed their mind as to which Funeral Home they would like to use
  • Their original arrangements were made in a city where they lived at the time and they now have no friends or family there and want to use a Funeral Home where they live now
  • Some find that there is more value by transferring their pre-arrangements to a different Funeral Home

If your pre-arranged funds are being held in trust, it is simply a matter of transferring the money into a new trust…it still remains your money. If your pre-arranged funds are invested into an insurance policy, it is simply a matter of changing the beneficiary.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call.

 

Until next week,

Marc

2017-05-10 “Bios Urns”

Bios urnsSome time ago, ads for “Bios Urns” started to show up on Facebook and got a lot of positive comments. Some folks asked me if I would start to carry them so I have done that.  They are available now at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home.

A Bios Urn is marketed as “a capsule that meets the needs of any type of tree, it’s the perfect medium to allow for the proper growth of a tree or plant when planted with the remains of your loved one”.

What happens is that you place either all or a portion of the cremated remains of your loved one inside the bios urn along with some soil. You plant a seed with the soil that grows a tree.  Because the Bios Urn is produced without glues or chemical additives, the degradation of the urn is respectful to the environment because of its organic components.  In essence, the capsule will hold the soil and ashes while the tree begins to grow and then it will decompose as the tree grows.

More information on Bios Urns you can visit the website at https://urnabios.com

2017-05-03 “Max”

Three of us graduating

I’ve always said that the year I spent in Toronto at Humber College (to become a Funeral Director) was one of the best years of my life and if I could ever live it over again I would. That year I shared a basement apartment with a couple of guys from Newfoundland who were in the same course. The apartment was nothing really…one room with mattresses on the floor, a desk and a small table with a couple of benches. Like many students, we ate fried bologna and beans once a week and ate at McDonalds after our late class. It wasn’t a matter of what we had, but who we were with that made that year so great. We became the best of friends; the kind who would be able to become separated by time and distance but still be able to pick up where we left off each time we saw each other or talked. We wrote letters, called each other and shared each other’s ups and downs. My son Darrell is named after one of those guys.

Last week I received a phone call from my friend Darrell and I could instinctively tell by his voice that something was wrong. He was calling to tell me that Max had committed suicide.

Those words were just as much a shock to me then as they were when I just typed them. What you can’t see because you are reading this later, is the time that I spent looking at that last sentence on my computer screen and not knowing what to say next…

There will always be a part of me that wishes Max would have called me. I may not have been able to change anything but I would like to have tried…to maybe say one thing that would make a difference. I tried to go back into Facebook and re-read our conversations to see if I missed something but he deleted his account and all of our messages went with it. I wish that we hadn’t stopped writing actual letters.

I feel sad but I’m not mad at Max. I’m not judging whether it was right or wrong for him to choose to leave his family and friends. I didn’t walk in his shoes so I didn’t know his pain.

His funeral is today. I’m going to miss him.

Rest well, fine sir. Rest well.

Your friend Marc

2017-03-22 “How To Avoid Probate Fees”

Jason Mallory

 It was about three years ago now that we hosted complimentary seminars with Jason Mallory of the Kerr, Wood and Mallory Law Office in Blenheim regarding the Ontario Estate Administration Tax commonly referred to as ”probate taxes”.  At that time, there were some changes being made to the laws surrounding probating a will.  Those seminars were repeated a few times because there were so many folks who wanted to attend.  The focus on those seminars was to inform you of the revisions that were being made with regard to the rules and costs of probating a will.

We are doing it again…

Jason Mallory has offered his services once again to give you information about probating a will. Instead of focusing so much on the revisions, Jason will focus on ways that you can avoid probate fees.  At this point we have two dates which are April 3 and April 24.  The seminars will be held at the Blenheim Seniors Centre and they will begin at 6:30 p.m.  We will be limiting the seminars to 80 people each night.  If there continues to be a demand after that, we will consider future dates for more seminars.

We are not using these seminars as an opportunity to sell or promote funerals. These seminars are for you so that you will be better informed to make some good decisions.

Please give us a call at 519-676-9200 to reserve your seat.

2016-12-07 “The Christmas Memorial Tree”

christmas-tree-2016

…and we’re back. Last week my family took me on a vacation…the first one that we have taken in over 20 years.  It was fun and relaxing.  While we were gone, a great group of people put the Christmas Memorial Trees up for me and decorated them.  I owe them many thanks for doing that.

This year we decided at the last minute to use some smaller trees. It will be a learning curve for us, but there were challenges with the big tree that helped us to make that decision.  With nearly 1,000 name tags on the tree this year, we would have had to place some of the tags so close to the top that people wouldn’t be able to read them.  Now with a group of smaller trees, all of the name tags are readable.  The other thing that always worried me was that the big tree would fall over if it got really windy, and last year it did start to lean which meant that we had to take it down before New Years.  That problem should be alleviated with smaller trees.  It will be an adjustment because we are so used to seeing that big tree every year but I think that this is best.

Special thanks go out to Don Tait and Merv Rooke for their offers of trees this year.  And thank you to Jillian at The Flower Bed for selecting and placing the trees for us!!

Once again, feel free to place an ornament in memory of someone (please just do not put glass ornaments on the tree because of safety reasons) or give us a call at 519-676-9200 and we can place a name tag on the tree for you. This is something that we do for the community, so it doesn’t matter who your funeral service provider was.