For a number of years I was a member of a local civics club, one of those that you could only have a certain number of members from one particular business category. In this club we had two Funeral Home guys, one was a Funeral Director and the other was a Mortician.
Now this isn’t an industry known for having employees with a sense of humor. Our Funeral Director was what you would expect, dark suit, red tie, shined shoes and serious. A really nice guy but not someone I would take to Las Vegas for a fun weekend. But the Mortician, now there was an interesting cat.
Sammy or Sam, when he was on “duty” is a funny guy with a million one liners. When he shakes your hand he extends his index finger and places it on your pulse and says “Just checking.” Or he might tell you to lay down on the table so he can fix your hair or your tie. My favorite though was when he would tell someone, that doesn’t know him, that they don’t look so good and gives them one of his business card. He would finish with “Keep this in your coat pocket so someone can find it”. Not everyone appreciated his silly sense of humor namely the local funeral homes which is why he worked as an independent contractor, filling in at other shops when things got busy. He traveled all over the state in his shiny black Cadillac hearse doing a job that you couldn’t pay me to do.
I ran into him one day at a local restaurant eating alone and I joined him for lunch. He wasn’t turned “on” as he normally was in a crowded room. At this point in time, Sammy was in his late sixties and had been in the funeral business for over forty years. I asked him why he was so different from the other people I had met in his business, namely he was funny. His answer was very simple “I have seen some heartbreaking terrible things in forty years, I laugh to keep from crying”. I told him that I can only imagine and he looked at me with his pale blue eyes and said quietly “No you can’t”.
We finished up our lunch, he shook my hand, checked my pulse and smiled, “Feels like you got a few more years left in you” and I said thanks Grim Reaper. As he was walking to his shiny hearse he yelled across the parking lot “You still got my card?” I nodded affirmatively. “Give it to your wife, I am always on the lookout for cute widows with newly minted life insurance policies.” I gave him a thumbs-up and drove away.
Sammy laughs to keep from crying, two choices we all have. I know for many of you, me included, tomorrow is a very scary day but if we all just keep things in perspective this too shall pass. I promise it will.