Reading through my Diary, I realize how green I was the first year of my Life with a Mortician. But stories like this make good conversations….
Diary Entry: Saturday September 18, 1993 Farmingdale, NY
“Hey wanna go to Long Island this weekend? We have to leave at 7am Saturday.” Umm… 7AM, my first weekend off in months. Ok, a romantic weekend with my new boyfriend or…sleep in and hang-out with my girlfriends whom I haven’t seen in a while.
“Sure, what’s in Long Island..?” “Well first I pick up the Colonel, then we drop him off in Farmingdale – we stay a few miutes, then – we go to Long Island…all expenses paid!!” Morty said with excitement. Long Island is about 7hrs from Amherst, NY – surely the Colonel will have some interesting stories. “Can I pick the Hotel and Restaurant?” “Yep, sure thing.”
After carefully choosing my outfit for the drive (need to look professional for the Colonel) I was ready. WOW! He’s here; 7am sharp. He looked handsome standing in my doorway – his Navy Blue suit with a coordinating gold stripe tie. “Hey we match” I said, wearing my Navy dress. “Good, forgot to mention to dress the part.” As he bent down to grab my overnight bag, I glimpsed outside – there in my driveway, for all my neighbors to see waited…my ride. Not, what I envisioned for a romantic weekend.
“That’s not all you forgot to mention! We’re spending our weekend in a HEARSE!!” I said, trying to stay calm. Great, here comes the neighbor…sloooowing down, staring at us like they’ve spotted Godzilla. With my hands on my hips, stomping towards the Hearse, I said “Is there a body in the back?” “It’s a Hearse, I’m a Funeral Director – what do you think?” (I think I wanna hit you in the head with my purse and throw you in the back). “Fine.” I said. “Let’s go get the Colonel, before my neighbors freak out.” Just as I open the passenger door I hear “He’s in the back seat” My legs couldn’t move. Morty smiles. “Come on, it’ll be a whole new experience for you – we’ll stop for breakfast on the way.” Oh, LUCKY ME.
We drove by several restaurants with looks of ‘please don’t stop here. “Let’s skip breakfast, I’ll run into McDonalds an grab a coffee” I said. Ahhh, coffee. Started to vision our weekend. Maybe we should forget the fancy restaurant…and anywhere that offers valet. As we turned the corner, I spotted two Iron Gates with a sign reading ‘Long Island National Cemetery.
Suddenly thoughts of our weekend diminished and I was mesmerized by my surroundings. Watching the soldiers standing still, lined up awaiting our arrival made me realize I was about to witness something – amazing. “Morty, I’m a little scared, whats expected of me?” “Don’t worry, just follow my lead, don’t say anything; smile and stand by the passenger door.” He was so calm, his goofiness was gone. This man I’ve been dating for six months seemed – different. My perception of the Funeral Business changed. What an honor to be a part of a Full Military Service (the experience is more than I can post). Standing there seemed like hours, watching the family – listening to the commands, the Guns – the music, ‘Taps and the folding of the ‘Flag was…’a whole new experience. What I felt was gratefulness, sadness, and honor. Not wanting to show my tears, I looked up at the sky to ‘Thank God for the moment. Morty looked over at me and nodded, I knew we were leaving. “You did good – thanks for hanging in there, now let’s go enjoy our weekend.” He gave me a soft wink. Thought to myself…no Romantic Weekend or… a girls night out could not possibly top this!”