Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Helping our families

Got away for a few days of R & R. Now I need a few days to rest up from the R & R. I imagine most health conditions are of the sort that you really don’t notice much of a difference while just going about your regular daily life. You need to do something different almost as a bench mark to measure against some point in the past.

This was one of those times for me. I certainly realized I don’t have the stamina or strength I once had. Now, I did partake of a few beverages that weren’t, let’s just say milk. Now even here I quickly realize 2 things. I definitely do not have the tolerance nor even the desire. The wild party animal that I once was must still lurk somewhere deep within my mind. It is just the rest of my body can’t live up to the expectations of the “wild party animal” side of me. I think I am turning into a wimp, geesh.

A few days back I wrote of my wild slip and fall. I did in fact go flying into the air landing head first. Now it has been said it is a good thing I used my head to cushion the landing for the rest of my body, as when it comes to my head you can’t do to much to damage an empty container. Hmm, it what I say to that. Especially when I realize it might be true, my head seems to be fine. My neck is still  bothering me a little. Right now I am not really sure if I have a head ache or a neck ache, it is sort of right at the base there. Opps, forgot the head is empty so it must be the neck.

So very many times I have encouraged anyone that may click into the blog here, not to just read my ramblings but to also read the comments left by others. Wisdom is often found there that far surpasses anything I could come up with.

Just such a comment was left the other day by my very own cousin Roy. Roy, I replied to your comment and said I was proud of you. I meant that.

I was just about to go into a ramble here. I just though realized what I was about to go on about is pretty much covered in my reply to Roy’s comment. As lazy seems to be my feeling of the day, I am just going to recopy both his comment and my reply:
Hi Bill. Good to catch up with you the other day. The telephone can erase thousands of miles in a heartbeat.
We covered a lot of ground but still have a lot of catching up to do.
I am going to take up your challenge of trying to contribute to the blog, not as your younger, devilishly handsome cousin with the disarming smile and rapier wit, but as the funeral director/embalmer with over 25 years experience dealing with families at a pretty interesting time of their life.
First point is this is not intended in any way to be a sales pitch! You guys are on your own if you have to activate my advise. The advise is free (unless you think its valuable, then I’ll find a way to invoice you for it!!)
A retired United Church minister, Reverend Bill Burgess, once told me a fantastic piece of advice, “Those who are prepared to die can get on with the fine art of living”. Please re-read this about a hundred times.. it’s applied in a practical sense, a theological sense and in a even romantic sense.
We as Judea-Christians get so caught up with avoiding our own mortality, we tend to forget how easy it is to live. We all tend to avoid talking about death…especially our own.
Old saying: ‘two thing in life are for certain – death and taxes.” Try telling a cashier in a mall you are trying to avoid talking about taxes. She will give you “the look” and then add the obligatory 5% gst and & 7% Pst. ***By the way G.S.T usually stands for Goods & Services Tax, but to a funeral director , it stands for Grave Side Tax!!***
It does no good to avoid tax talk, but lets get realistic about death. It makes life really fun.
I recently did a funeral for a 27 year old girl. No warning. I am doing a funeral for a 14 day old baby. No chance given. I can site hundreds of examples.
(truth is I have an incredible memory for facts unless I owe you money or I dated your sister.)
Everybody should sit down with their family and have a very serious talk about their own funeral. Really.. That should happen. How do I broach this sensitive topic with my own loved ones? (Note.. the term “loved ones” is term that is over-used and it tends to piss me off when I hear it, but I was compelled to use it once for all of you. from this point on I will be saying “family” or a reasonable facsimile thereof)
You can start with relating an experience of a funeral/memorial service you attended. “I really agreed with Uncle Walter’s choice of cremation after the service.” or “I would rather be buried in my home town next to Mom & Dad than in one the large city cemeteries” Baby steps. Probably not a topic to discuss over Christmas dinner or a your grandson’s baptism/bris.
Here’s the really really cool thing…once you have this discussion, you NEVER have to have it again. They understand and they can follow your lead. Better yet, make your own funeral arrangements. Write them down and leave them with somebody you trust. It takes about 1/2 hour. Pick your music, pick your eulogist, pick your final disposition. Then move on. Enjoy each and every day without the worry of “what will happen when I die?”
Crazy thing is we can spend countless hours planning our retirement, but there is no guarantee that we will ever get there. I am fairly certain we will all reach our demise. Plan it, then move past it.
“Those who are prepared to die can get on with the fine art of living”. Make your peace with anyone you need to.. God, family, friends, whomever. This is not the huge event of asking for eternal forgiveness, blah, blah, blah. This is taking the time to reach out to those who are important to you and say “hello”. They will reciprocate in kind. Stay in touch always, and they will always stay in touch.
Oh yeah!..God knows you are there. He knows what you are up to, how you feel and where you are headed. He just stays out of your business. He doesn’t just pick up the phone when you are calling (usually collect) at the last minute asking for eternal salvation. He loves to hear from you on a regular basis, even when things are not so good. And He is awake to do business when your ready (24/7, 365 days/year..yes Jo Hart, even in Queensland!!)
The rule of thumb is this….shed the burdens, tackle the tasks and enjoy life (and only drink good scotch)
Bill, you have been given an amazing gift (as we all have. Its called TOMORROW!! I am glad you are sharing it with all of us. Hope you had a great weekend of R&R.
BTW.. I can guarantee three things (this is for Mel)
1. death
2. taxes
3. and that my beloved Maple Leafs will bring a Stanley Cup home to Toronto before the Jets bring one back to Portage & Main!!

“Hi Roy, it really was nice chatting with you the other day. It is sad how we can some how let so much time past between contacts. Let’s both vow to keep in closer contact going forward.
I thank you so very much for taking me up on my request for you to share here on the blog. You have provided us all with such a wealth of information and so very much to both think about and then I hope act on.
You have delivered such a powerful message and in the way and with the rapier wit that could only be delivered by Roy Howdle. I thank you so much, as I am sure do many.
I can’t begin to imagine how difficult your profession must be at times and I have heard many speak of the professional, loving, caring manner in which you conduct yourself. I am proud of you cousin.
As difficult as I know it has to be at so many times, I would imagine it could be a blessing. That blessing being that it would give you an entirely different perspective on life. You see how fragile life can be and of how it can end so very unexpectedly. This knowledge clearly enables you to see and appreciate the preciousness of it. Accept each day for what it is, a precious gift from God. It is indeed a precious gift never to be taken for granted or squandered away. I do love that quote: “Those who are prepared to die can get on with the fine art of living”. It is so very true.
You have the wisdom and life perspective granted to very few, thank you for sharing it and please continue to do so.
Now a few points for the official record. Firstly, It is good to see the some of the “wisdom” of your slightly older cousin has rubbed off on you. Secondly, I have always maintained I am in fact the devilishly handsome one in the family. To keep that illusion going, it will cost you money to ever get your picture on the blog.
Roy, it is nice to hear from you and I do thank you for sharing as you have and hope you will continue to do so.
PS. As to the Leafs and the Jets, well as it sits today you are right. But don’t count on that totally, we still hear occasional talk of bringing them back to Winnipeg. So you just never know.”


3 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Helping our families

  1. roy says:

    Hi Bill
    Glad you had some R&R. Don’t feel bad about you lack of stamina to party. It happens to us all. Mom called it “growing up”. Its at moments like these I quote (and I use it often) the famous Archie Bunker line “25 years ago, I looked like a Greek god, now I look like a goddam Greek”. I too have suffered the ravages of time. My precious golden locks are clogging drains all across Western Canada. I still have my 26 inch waste. But I keep it very well insulated. Instead of jogging 5 miles, I have found it easier to drive it (I make better time and I stay warmer).
    It’s actually pretty embarassing to go to a wedding or family reunion these days with my kids. When they meet up with their cousins, a full-blown party ensues. At my age (nearly 45), I have to stand back and console myself with lines like “back in my day, I’d just be getting warmed up at 4a.m!!” Hell of a thing when you run into your kids who are getting home from a party and you’re on your third trip to the bathroom that night.
    Mother Nature waits for no one. She drags us along, kicking and screaming. Women, they say, tend to age like a fine wine. I’m aging like milk. i tend to console myself with my whole “inner-beauty” thing I have going.
    On the bright side we trade our stamina for knowledge, our energy for wisdom and our experiences for memories.
    And to the average 85 year old man sitting in a nursing home looking out a window, you and I are still young pups, full of piss and vinegar.
    Have a great day

  2. Jo Hart says:

    Like I’ve mentioned before, I think wisdom runs in the Howdle family. You should all be so proud of yourself and what you are giving to others.

  3. Mel says:


    I really, really, REALLY like Roy.

    Don’t tell him though……shhhhhhhhhhh…it’ll be our secret…..

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