Sparkly Saturdays

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It’s been a while

From dawn til dusk; in scrubs and gumboots, I am bathing bodies, applying make up and curling their hair. 

My lower back aches as I heave and ho, pulling up denim jeans on cold, rigid legs, squeezing shoes onto dead weight feet. 

Night time arrives and I collapse on the couch, intentions of cooking, but tiredness takes over. Waking at midnight in a heap, my maltese, Cupcake licking my cheeks. It’s time to go to my bed, I drag my feet and there I sleep.

Morning breaks through the blinds; I do it all again.

Weekend comes, plans are cancelled. I’m far too tired for nightclub small talk and random kisses.

I pour a wine, wear odd socks and watch movies until I dream. 

Tonight I have decided it’s about time…

It’s Saturday…and I’m finally going to leave the house. Writing is on hold, bed can wait. I’m dressed in my best, and ready to dance!

Hair blow dried, false lashes fitted, sparkles on my feet, my ride awaits. Vodka spritzer in my hand, I am ready to hit the town!!!

 

Happy Saturday my lovelies.

Love Love xx

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The Conversationalist

They say the best conversations take place late at night.

I’m not exactly sure who “they” are, but if given the opportunity I would like to let them know this isn’t necessarily true

Late night conversations can be very unwelcome and spooky if the person was pronounced dead minutes earlier!

It’s Friday night and naturally, I’m eating cake, sipping Red and tapping away at my keyboard… and I would like to tell you about my very first ‘Gurgler’. 

Warm wax pooled at the base of my candles as I blew out the flame and headed to bed. I was on call, and had waited until late before cleansing my face of make up and releasing my corporate hair bun. Freshly showered, curly hair smelling of coconut and bed linen embracing my tired limbs, I tucked the work mobile phone under my pillow and switched off my lamp. I snuggled in, moaning happily. I had a good feeling that I would not get a call out, and perhaps a good night sleep was on the cards.

Falling…to…sleep…

Riiiiiiiiing!!! Riiing!!!

My eyes snapped open and I stared into the black towards my ceiling.

‘No…!’ I whined and squashed  my pillow over my head as if this would stop the phone from ringing.

Riiiiing!!! Riiiing!!!

There was no way out. I had to answer.

‘Yep,’ I mumbled.

‘We have a transfer,’ Byron, my new on call partner sounded afraid on the other end of the line.

Well, duh! Why else would you be calling me at 1am?

The poor guy. He had only just started with the company this week. My previous work buddy was accustomed to my mumbles and grumbles on the late night calls, even bringing a blanket and a thermos of coffee for me on pick up. He recently retired and the company hired Byron: an ex military soldier with biceps that threatened to break open his Funeral Director’s suit.

I muttered my address to him and dragged myself out of bed.

A puff of blush, slick of lip gloss and hair swept up in a messy bun, I slipped into my suit, kissed Cupcake on her strawberry scented fluff and waited outside for the headlights.

Before too long, the van pulled up and I jumped in, heavy metal blasting. Sensing my grumpiness, my new partner switched radio stations, fiddled with his tie in the revision mirror and smiled weakly at me.

‘Sorry,’ I yawned, leaning back in my seat. ‘Before midnight, I’m fine. After twelve, you have to deal with a nightmare. Where are we off to?’

‘South side,’ he chirped.

Over the next fifteen minutes as we chatted about the previous funeral homes he had worked for and the soaring prices of fuel, I slowly began to wake up and by the time we reached the lovely looking home with porch lights glowing, I was ready to tackle our task.

A young family met us at the front door of Asian descent around thirty years old. Holding onto one another sadly, they nodded towards to the bedroom at the end of the dimly lit hallway.

‘Down there,’ the sniffling lady motioned. ‘My father. He hasn’t been well. He caught sun cancer from your sky here.’

‘It’s ok,’ I rested my hand on her quivering arm. ‘We will take good care of dad for you.’

I noticed Byron’s aftershave and how great his hair looked even at this time of night, as we walked down the hallway, fried rice and soy sauce warming my nostrils.

We walked into the sprawling bedroom where in a king size bed, lie a tiny man with a giant tumour growing from his face. His eyes had been taken over by the growth and all that could be seen was his small mouth, lips slightly parted and head rested to one side.

‘I’ll go get the stretcher,’ Byron said softly, ‘You do the paperwork.’

This was working out great already. Not even half way through our first transfer, and Bryon was taking the lead.

Transfers are one of my favourite tasks in our job. The anticipation of not knowing where you will go to next, the scene you will be faced with and the variety of homes you visit, from tiny cottages to million dollar mansions with city views is quite exciting. You are constantly tackling challenges; staircases and unruly dogs, a crime scene perhaps or slippery pathways…never a dull moment! When a family member hugs me, thanks me as I close the back of the van with their loved one securely in place on the stretcher, I feel like I have helped them in some way, made a difference to the world, even if they do see me as the Grim Reaper, or the ‘body snatcher’. (Yes, I have been called this many times). I do love the transfer. However, at 1 am in the morning, I am more than happy for someone else to take the lead. At this hour, I’m likely to stumble on my words; ‘Mum is in safe hands, now’ when it had been Dad who just died.

The young couple decided to stay in the kitchen as Byron and I proceeded with the transfer. We fastened the name tags around Mr. Quan’s slim wrists, covered him gently with the sheet, and slid him from his plush mattress to our collapsable stretcher and into a body bag.

Then it happened.

The Gurgle.

The groan.

The talking. (Okay, talking is a bit far fetched but, I am a story teller).

As I pulled the strap tight around Mr. Quan’s chest, a deep moan escaped from within the body bag.

GROOOOOOOOAN.

In the mortuary, I have heard plenty of small gurgles and moans when leaning on their chests while closely examining the make up or mouth suture, but nothing of this calibre!

Mr. Quan continued to talk as his daughter entered the room to sign paperwork. Oh God, please don’t notice I thought to myself, sweat beads breaking through my Napoleon Perdis foundation. Once boxes were ticked, condolences offered and stretcher fitted in the back of the van, we drove off into the night, my new transfer and I partner bonded in laughter at the chatty Mr. Quan.

Assuming you have never collected a deceased person late at night, I will explain a little why this conversation occurred.

When a person dies there is still air trapped in the lungs, and when you move the body the air will escape and this is the deep and sometimes startling moaning.

Don’t fear! This is not stuff of the zombie apocalypse…

Noise from a dead body is perfectly normal, (well, normal for us!!!)

I just wanted to share my late night adventure with you!

Sweet Dreams…

 

xx

 

The Story Of The Bagpiper

A Joke from the Funeral Home

As a bagpiper, I play at many events.

Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man.

He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a small cemetery in the country.  As I was not familiar with the area, I got lost and, being a typical man, I did not stop for directions. 

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left sitting close by eating their lunch.

I felt badly and apologised to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunch and began to gather around.

I played my heart out for this man with no family and friends.

And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. 

They wept, I wept, we all wept together. 

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car.

Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the worker’s say,

“I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

Apparently, I’m still lost…it’s a man thing. 

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Fat Fires and Seashells

Today I was a student of the crematory. Learning all things from the temperature gauges and raking: (the act of raking the skeletal remains from the cremator into a catchment below), to the amazing ways ashes can be both stored and released.

‘Big Ben’, with his bushy grey beard and belly laugh, has been a cremator operator for over fifteen years and was delighted to teach me all he knew and was happy for me to follow him around the place. I watched skulls break open in the heat of flames, metal hips and screws from a wooden leg be collected into a bucket and bones get sifted through in search for any other metal bits and pieces that were left behind. I watched bones get transformed to powder and people who were only walking down the street a week ago get poured into sparkly urns. Glamorous looking caskets were engulfed in flames and I even witnessed a potential ‘Fat Fire.’

Yes, you read correctly, a Fat Fire.

‘We aren’t actually allowed to call them Fat Fires anymore,’ Ben continued to educate me, puffing and sweating, extinguishing the flames that bellowed from behind the huge, metal door of the cremator. ‘We must call them Pressure Fires.’

Thud! Bang! Rumble!

It sounded like a thunderstorm thumping within the giant machine. Black ash and smoke stained the area around the cremator, all because Mr. Lionel enjoyed a few too many tacos while he was alive.

‘Does this happen often?’ I could feel my jaw was at my knees, but in too much shock to bring it back up where it belonged. I felt my eyes widen as the final flames we dissipated.

‘All the time,’ Big Ben chuckled taking off his hard hat and wiping his sooty face with his forearm. ‘The obese need to spend a day in the crematory rather than read diet books. One look at a Fat Fire, err… excuse me, I mean a Pressure Fire, would turn them right off that next chinese buffet!’

Pressure Fire Under control and melted fat disposed of, I wandered into the staff room where complimentary scones were on offer for funeral directors.

Just when I thought I had seen it all, mid bite with jam and cream on my nose, I noticed three giant seashells in the urn room leaning against a wall on the floor.

‘Oh! They’re new! Just in!’ Big Ben startled me, walking in and grabbing a scone. Mouth full, he grabbed one and held out to me.

With sticky fingers I held onto the foam like, blue seashell. ‘They are for families who want ashes scattered at sea. Instead of  flying all over the place when you set them free in the wind, the ashes are put in a plastic bag and then put inside the shell. It’s then thrown into the water and after a few hours, it dissolves. Pretty neat, hey!’

Thud! Bang! Rumble!

‘Shit!’ and off he flew, back to the cremator to save the day. Or the cemetery grounds anyway.

For some time, nibbling on scones, I wandered around the room brimming with urns, overlooking the rolling hills of headstones and fountains.

Some urns were breathtaking; one was made completely of Himalayan salt. Others were tiny, the size of my thumb for when families wish to share the ashes, a portion for all. Some were glistening with golden finishes, others bright pink and covered in glitter. I felt like a child, scanning the aisles of a toy store. I was amazed at all of the wonderful and beautiful ways the human body can be retained and eliminated.

Life is magical, and forever surprising us. And as the giant seashells and glittery urns reminded me, farewell really can be, if you choose it, an adventurous affair also.

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