FAMILY AND BUSINESS MEMORIES
Anniversaries bring memories and, with the observance during 1992 of forty years of marriage and fifteen years of funeral service for Don and me, I am caught up more than ever in reminiscing. My reminiscence about family and business are closely entwined. Our service at Waller Funeral Home has from the start been based on the theme of "our family serving your family at your time of need," so personal and family involvement were inevitable and fundamental.
Many funeral homes have been operated by the same families for several generations. Had someone told Don and me when we married that we would ever "give birth" to such an enterprise, we would have been doubtful indeed. The idea of being in business — the funeral business specifically — was about twenty-five years away. But we feel comfortable with the turns our life as a family have taken, and we are grateful for God’s guidance and his blessings in our lives. We praise Him and offer thanksgiving to Him who has made these fifteen years in funeral service possible. We acknowledge that not only in the funeral home but in every area of our lives all we are and all we can ever hope to be comes to us through His grace.
We look back with love and appreciation for those who have helped shape our course and to those who still offer their counsel and support. During the early years of our marriage, much support came from our parents —and I have written much about the influence and strength that came to me from my mother and daddy. As I think back through the time I spent working with Daddy, him as Chancery Clerk and me as Deputy Clerk, and later when I myself served as Chancery Clerk, I see the development of my philosophy of service to the public. It was after my defeat in my effort at re-election as Chancery Clerk in 1975 that, as I looked around for employment opportunities, we decided to open the funeral home. In funeral service, I felt very strongly that I had "found my calling," and I felt anguish when, in 1988, I realized that, because of my hearing impairment, I could no longer function effectively in the role I had filled at the funeral home. I feel comfortable, however, to have been "replaced" at the funeral home by Beth and Bob, who, when they married soon after we opened the funeral home in 1977, never dreamed that they would be second-generation keepers of our creation.
Also, as I think of the turn Don’s life has taken, I am thankful that I am able to be with him in many of the activities in which he participates as president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau. Often as I sit watching him as he speaks at various functions, I think back through the years when, as a hard-working farmer, he served as president of the Lafayette County Farm Bureau, a member of the State Board of Directors of the Farm Bureau, and as vice president of the Northern District of the Farm Bureau. Moving to Jackson and acting in the capacity as president of the MFB certainly were not in his mind as a young farmer.
Don’s parents were certainly big influences not only during his years at home with them but also as we began our married life in close proximity to them. Unlike many young folks today, I was never comfortable with calling these in-law parents anything except "Mr. Waller and Mrs. Waller" until the arrival of children made "Granddaddy and Grandmother" come very naturally. Mr. and Mrs. Waller were not altogether happy at our marrying so young — which back then I could not understand but which now seems perfectly understandable. Mrs. Waller took very seriously her responsibility for making a greenhorn young girl into a farm wife for her son, and she was often very direct in her approach to the task — though not always. I remember her reaction to Don’s and my first effort to make possum grape jelly. [Don has always gotten special pleasure from this wild treat and still today has his special vines staked out, even one on Mr. Howard Ayles’ place, and he admits that the high-boy, used for poisoning and defoliating the cotton, gives him a special advantage in gathering this treat.] Our first jelly was quite a production! To say it was firm is an understatement! Don's mother told me that with the same amount of juice we could have made much, much more jelly. To help me save face she added in a softer than usual tone that, though it was quite tart, it would be good with fresh pork.
How helpful Don’s mother was to me as a young mother trying so hard to keep the babies healthy and happy! She always knew what to do! Her "frying of a rag" was fascinating to me, and I might have been amused by it if it had not worked so well. Many times, with the rag heated just right and wrapped around the baby just right, she would put the little one on her shoulder and with a little rocking take a baby who had fretted all day and get him to sleep peacefully for hours.
One of the special blessings of our work at the funeral home has been the opportunity to become acquainted with the ministers in the area. We have gained a special appreciation for how much the caring support of a pastor can mean to a family experiencing death. And we will never forget the much-needed advice and guidance of Dr. James L. "Brother Jimmy" Southerland when we were establishing both the physical and spiritual foundation of our funeral home. He worked with us in planning and carrying out the dedication of the funeral home to convey to the community our feeling of God’s leadership in our funeral service.
Photographs of the dedication made by our good friend Bob Clements help make our memories of that day very vivid. Bob came out early to make pictures and both his posed and candid shots of that day are very dear to us, as are the other portraits he made during the years, of each of our children in their senior year of high school, of our four older grandchildren in the fall of their first years of school, of Daddy shortly before his death, of Don and me at 35, and others. We miss Bob’s friendship and his expert work and regret he will not be the one to take little Chase’s picture when he begins school.
The photograph Bob made of Don and me that day and brought us later as a surprise gift is the one that still hangs in the arrangements room at the funeral home. Beth has suggested to me that it should be replaced by a more recent photograph. I guess she is right! To me Don is ageless. I remember through the years as I have enjoyed watching him as he has gone about his daily life. I have watched him as a farmer — riding with him many times as he checked the crops — scratching up seeds to see if they are sprouting, pulling squares to check for boll weevils, counting the bolls on a stalk, or just stopping suddenly to show me something like a killdeer nest to share his appreciation of the ways of nature. During the 28 years he directed the music in our church, I watched him from my place at the piano — both from the love of watching him and for the signals he sometimes gave to remind me not to get carried away on some of those old spiritrousing Baptist hymns. I do realize, though, that Don is not the slender, muscular young man of 20 with wavy, very black hair that I married, but I would not change this tried-and-true, gray-haired, balding, and slightly overweight husband of forty years for a younger model. His unwillingness to offer a current evaluation of the changes which have overtaken me through the years, even when provided a specific opportunity, attests to his wisdom and loving-kindness!
These fifteen years in funeral service have held some rewarding experiences and some heart-rendering ones. We are indebted to you that you have let us be with you in your need, and we take our responsibility to you very seriously. We constantly keep foremost in our minds "our family serving your family at your time of need."
"Our family" at the funeral home has changed during the years, but we feel blessed in having the dedication and caring devotion of an excellent staff. We depend heavily on Bob and Beth — and they have not disappointed us. We are proud of them and the leadership they are providing. Other members of the staff are Bobby Phelps, who has been with us from the beginning; Robbie Ash, who is Insurance Office Manager; and Sid Wolfe, who is primarily involved with funerals and also makes pre-need contracts.
Though Don and I are not in Oxford at all times, we do maintain very close touch with the activities at the funeral home through Bob and Beth. My interest is, as it has always been, not in the administrative aspects of the business but in the personal aspects of relationships with families. Beth recognizes how much this means to me and is good to share the details of families and services with me. I must now content myself with the help I can offer through correspondence and providing certain printed grief helps. Often I would like to speak by telephone briefly with some of the family while they are at the funeral home, but I do not because my hearing impairment might cause additional stress on family members.
The first issue of Seasons was published in the summer of 1984, and our mailing list now includes almost 5,000 names. Through this medium, we feel a tie has been established and maintained with you. As each issue goes out, I find myself thinking of those with whom we shall be in touch. I think of this as my personal letter to each of you, and I ask your indulgence if ever I offend with this personal approach. It is thrilling to me to maintain this contact, and I invite you always to let us know your reaction to my comments and to our service.
A Book Suggestion
The whole family would enjoy reading together the classic story of The Other Wise Man, available in the Ideals Children’s Book Series. This narrative, by Henry van Dyke, was first published in 1896 and now is retold by Pamela Kennedy in a very appealing and attractive paperback edition.
Artaban, one of the magi, did not join his three friends who worshipped the baby Jesus at His birth in Bethlehem because Artaban, much like the Good Samaritan, stopped to help a sick man on the road. Other incidents are told of Artaban’s helping those in need throughout his life as he searched for his King. The illustrations, by Robert Barrett, are beautiful and elegantly portray this man’s journey in the Holy Land.
The book is available locally at the Promises and Praise Christian Bookstore for $4.95.
Coping With Grief During The Holidays
We are sending copies of a pamphlet, After the Loss of Coping with the Holidays, and an article relating to the first Christmas since the death of a loved one to members of families we have served since last Christmas. If you know of someone else who you think would benefit from these, please call us. We gladly share these with anyone whom they might help.
1993 Scripture Appointment Calendars
Scripture Appointment calendars for 1993 are now available at the funeral home. The beautiful scenes and inspiring scripture make these gifts we are proud to have for you. Come in and get your copy before the new year begins.
The earth reminded us a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God.
— Astronaut James Irwin, U.S.A.
IF I HAD KNOWN
If I had known, when your kind eyes Met mine in parting, true and sad —Eyes gravely tender, gently wise,
And earnest, rather, more than glad —How soon the lids would lie above,
As cold and white as sculptured stone, I should have treasured every glance —If I had known.
If I had known to what strange place, What mystic, distance, silent shore,
You calmly turned your steadfast face, What time your footsteps left my door,
I should have forged a golden link To bind the hearts so constant grown,
And kept it constant ever there —If I had known.
If I had known how soon for you
Drew near the ending of the fight, And on your vision, fair and new,
Eternal peace dawned into sight,
I should have begged, as love’s last gift, That you, before God’s great white throne,
Would pray for your poor friend on earth —If I had known.
Reprinted from Tony’s Scrap Book, compiled by Anthony Wons
published by The Reilly & Lee Co., Chicago.
Pre-arrangement may be by far the kindest thing you can do for your family. We at Waller Funeral Home have seen the stress of many families reduced when, at the time of death, some arrangements have already been made.
As pointed out in previous issues of Seasons, pre-arrangement is a growing national trend. We were not able before this printing to get national statistics later than the 1984 statistics previously reported which showed that in 1984 eight percent of funeral services had been prearranged to some extent. Review of 1992 at Waller Funeral Home reveals that 29 percent of our funeral services have been prearranged to some extent.
The advantages are many. Fewer decisions have to be made at the time of death when families are often tired and emotionally drained and when time is limited. Families separated by long distances can come together in advance to make arrangements, thus avoiding the delay that awaiting the arrival of family members from some distance can cause. The price of funeral services and merchandise is frozen by the pre-arrangement agreement; at the present time the rate of inflation on funeral services is higher than the interest rate on investments (CD’s, bonds, savings accounts, etc.). Funds are available to supplement health care costs; however, few funds are available to assist with funeral expenses of your family, with both Social Security and veterans benefits having been reduced in recent years. Handling your own or your loved one’s financial needs and personal choices in advanced brings a secure and satisfied feeling.
Various pre-arrangement plans are available at Waller Funeral Home including (1) payment in full, (2) a monthly payment plan to fit your budget, and (3) a simple no-cost recording of personal wishes. We protect the funds received for pre-arrangements even beyond the legal requirements that ensure that these funds will be available as contracted even if unforeseen changes occur at Waller Funeral Home.
The extent of pre-arrangement varies. Specific choices can be made of casket, content and location of the funeral service, pallbearers, place of burial, monument, etc. We are prepared to work with you to whatever extent you desire. There is no obligation for a consultation to consider the possibilities, and we promise that no pressure will be exerted. Why not call us at 662-234-7971 and arrange to talk with us about arranging a conference at your convenience?
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who have died and whose families we have served from September 2, 1992, to November 14, 1992.
Mr. Clyde Leon Lamb / September 2
Mr. Thomas Ralph Williams / September 11
Mrs. Eddie M. ‘Teddy" Davis / September 13
Mr. Edward Alan McLarty / September 14
Mr. Dan Gault / September 17
Mr. Robert Hugh Smith / September 19
Mrs. Geneva Bridwell Phillips / September 24
Mr. Calvin Franklin Cain, Sr. / September 25
Miss Frances Jeannette Evans / October 6
Mrs. Cecil Mae Riggs / October 7
Mr. Malcolm D. Still / October 7
Mrs. Helen Goe Hume / October 10
Mr. John Watkins Turnipseed / October 15
Dr. Helen Hutchcraft Moak / October 19
Mrs. Myrtle H. Billingsley / October 20
Mr. William Robert Burrow / October 26
Mr. Jim Jamison / October 27
Mrs. Anita Cometti Hutcherson / October 28
Mrs. Jeri K. Oliphant / October 28
Mrs. Eula Winter Sandefer / October 29
Mrs. Virginia Anne Smith / October 30
Mrs. Margie B. Stribling / October 30
Mrs. Kathleen McAllister Nelson / November 3
Mr. Oran Alton Tarver / November 4
Mrs. Isabel Heiman Levy / November 6
Mrs. Ida Loagene Daniel / November 6
Mrs. Mable James Pinion / November 6
Mr. Travis J. Hughes / November 7
Mrs. Blanche Mooney New / November 8
Mr. Mike Reynolds / November 5
Mr. Roy Edward Pinion / November 10
Mr. Royal C. Henry / November 14