Friday, March 06, 2009

More mortuary bad fun plus best Five Wishes ever

So the mortuary drivers have learned that I am up for a good story--two younger men who work for one of the transport services told me the following one. They had been called to a home. The service for which they work always dispatches two drivers/vans to a home in case the removal is, ummmm, complex. So to speak. This was a very straightforward removal until the moment the two men were wheeling the cot and its Very Quiet Passenger down the driveway of the home, at which time a pizza delivery truck zipped up and parked. The pizza person jumped out, grabbed the pizza, turned around, and was confronted by two men in dark suits and a very unmistakable mortuary cot with a very unmistakable Dead Person thereupon. The men told me the pizza person's facial expression was absolutely priceless, and the act of stepping back while juggling the pizza and trying not to fall right down in the middle of the street took great coordination. The drivers called up to the house and found out someone alive had ordered the pizza and was prepared to pay for it, and took off about their business, but I imagine the pizza person needed a stiff drink at the end of the day at the very least.

One of the hospice patients in a care facility had completed the Five Wishes document to outline his end-of-life choices, a very good thing to do. This individual had always been fiercely independent, very bright, and very outspoken. Friends, family, and caregivers reported that his communication could be painfully blunt. Thus, a choice for having inspirational readings and beloved poems read at the bedside was eliminated with three large, FORCEFUL X's. Likewise he'd written the word "Bull***t" next to a section exhorting the family of the writer to see the writer's death as a personal growth opportunity, indicated that he didn't care at all how his family disposed of his remains and suggested the decisions be based on financial reality only, scribbled in the margin that his family could believe whatever they wanted about death, and indicated, for his thoughts about his death, "Not liking it much." This was the best such document I've ever seen, in terms of giving a glimpse of the person who wrote it. An out-of-town relative attended the death and I brought out the document for the family to think about a mortuary. This relative found such a sense of her loved one in the document that I made a special copy to send home. You don't have to be "nice and polite" to be real and worthy of love and remembrance. Through reading the wishes the relative got one last chance to "hear" the loved one, and was able to realize his essence had maintained throughout his illness, and found that comforting. As for me, I just loved that "Five Wishes." Especially the big forceful Xs crossing out everything that sounded schmaltzy or inauthentic to its author. I hope the God of humor did not greet the author with a squadron of chubby harp-playing angels sitting on a fluffy cloud.