Summer 1991


Recently I took an opportunity to spend some time alone in the funeral home. As I spent time there, I thought of those early days when I spent so much time there alone and how different things have been in recent years. Going from room to room brought special memories and feelings —some of which I would like to share with you. 

As I stood in the foyer of the chapel, I recalled times when l sat there listening to services, sometimes with tears for the passing of friends or in sympathy for those who were feeling sorrow. Walking down the aisle of the chapel, I remembered thinking as I had walked in with families for services what a long walk it must seem to them. Sometimes I could feel a drawing back as if to delay the finality the service represented. 

I sat in the chapel reflecting upon some of the services there, thinking especially of times when families had made special requests. One family asked us to place the casket at an angle near the carport doors. They had gathered evergreens from their farm and had had the florist make a casket piece from these which blended beautifully with the wood casket. On this occasion the speaker’s podium was placed on the floor level to the right side of the chapel where those attending sat. The minister read a brief scripture and had prayer, then a nephew gave a eulogy. There had been no formal procession. The family and a few friends had simply gathered together in the chapel.

I recalled another time when a family was eager to know if they could use two Elvis Presley tapes which their teenage son had especially liked. We were able to put these through our music system. We have been asked to leave caskets open for services, to open them at the close of services, and to even open them again at grave sites; and we have always obliged. At some deaths, a memorial service, rather than a funeral service is the choice of the family. Often the minister is present as we plan with the family on arrangement of the chapel and other details. If he is not present when the service is planned, we are always certain he is advised of the family’s decisions immediately so that he too may discuss these with the family
I feel god’s presence strongly in the chapel. I remember times when I slipped away for a few minutes as we worked, to bring my mind and body together with prayer, for guidance.

As I resumed my walk on that recent day, I went from the chapel through the family room. Fewer families use this room now. Most seem to prefer to be out in the chapel. I feel though it is good to have this space available for those who want to use it. Too, it helps when a large crowd overflows from the chapel. 

Going out into the hall, I went through the staterooms. Here family members often stand for hours greeting those who have come to express their own grief and offer their condolences. Flowers often line the walls. I have thought, "the flowers are the most beautiful I have ever seen," only to think the same think very soon. I have seen family members deeply touched by the beauty of the flowers and by individual cards accompanying arrangements. As I looked around the stateroom, one poignant memory was of a service held in a stateroom at the request of a family for their own personal reasons. The memory of this service reminded me of two home funerals I attended many years ago, Mrs. Walter ("Miss Minnie") Denton, at Delay, and "Cousin" Johnny Brown, in Oxford.

If a family member wants time alone with a deceased loved one in the stateroom, we can and do assure that this is quite all right, and we can help others to understand this need for solitude. Some find that talking there, although they know they are not heard, helps in saying good-bye and helps begin the healing of the grief.

As I crossed the hall and entered the lounge, I thought of groups gathering there to relax a few minutes perhaps to have a cup of coffee, and to share time with someone. Visitors have said they felt a little guilty about this relaxation and refreshment, but, as I have said to some, no disrespect is meant. The enjoyment of friendships and family ties which often previously involved the deceased can only strengthen the appreciation of life. Thinking of gatherings in the lounge carries me back to those days when funeral homes were not available and families remained at home for friends and loved ones to gather. Often friends and family members sat up all night with the deceased as a way of showing affection and respect. This practice was very important to some people. My Aunt Fadrie Knight, for example, had listed those she wanted to "situp" with her at the funeral home. We have, when requested, taken a loved one back home for a night before the funeral.

Going into the prayer room, I remembered times I have been blessed by being a part of the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, entreatment, and commitment offered there. Gathering there for prayer just before services seems to bring families together and gives a few moments to prepare mentally and emotionally for the funeral service. In addition to serving as a place of prayer, the prayer room may be used for a time of respite, for discussion of services with the minister, for a family conference, or for an arrangements room for larger families.

As I began to retrace my steps through the foyer, I admired the beautiful plants there. We have always insisted upon live plants or none at all.

My time of remembering led me to the room we referred to as my office. It is the arrangements room. As I sat down there, I saw the picture of Don and me made the day the funeral home was dedicated in December of 1977. Beth has suggested we might like to update this picture. I am inclined to agree with her. A number of years have slipped by. I looked and lingered on a number of personal things which remain there although I have not worked at the funeral home in three years. Perhaps by leaving these things, lam expressing my continuing desire to be a part —which I very much am — and also perhaps subconsciously I see myself there again someday.

Looking over the room, I lingered longest on the bookshelves. I have taken many of the books with me. One of the smaller books which was still there and surely one I have needed is Weatherhead’s The Will of God. It is quite worn as I carried it for a long time in my purse after my friend Dell Ross gave it to me. The inscription is not dated; however, I do know it was the early 70’s when she gave it to me. I have it with me at home now and have already begun to read and study it again. As I think of the books, I remember a time when I was sitting with a family I did not know who had come for the burial of their mother whom I did know, and we sat visiting and becoming acquainted before we went into the detailed plans. One member of the family commented that she was glad to see we shared an interest in many of the same books. I realized that to some extent I was being measured by the books on my shelf. They were entrusting us with one of the most important events of their lives — the burial of their mother —and they wanted to know that I/we measured up. This experience taught me a lesson I have not forgotten. We may all be evaluated when we are least expecting it and in a way we do not expect.

My time at the funeral home would not have been complete without my going into the casket selection room. We have endeavored to make this room attractive too. As I walked through the room, touching a piece of fabric here, stroking a lovely piece of wood there, I saw some selections which are new from my days there and I found that I still have favorites. The garment closet is nearby. Some families choose to purchase something from us for various reasons. We keep a selection of appropriate dresses, gowns, and suits.

As I complete the writing of this article, Don and I are many, many miles from Oxford on a trip, but, as always, we are as close as the telephone. Beth has just shared with me news of the death of a dear friend. My heart is there.

As I read back through this message to you, it seems I have put down some incidents and thoughts which I hope will help show that there are many alternatives in planning a funeral. We care about and respect all those we serve, and we are always eager to do whatever the family wishes.


We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who have died and whose families we served from May 19, 1991 to August 18, 1991.

Mrs. Leslie Ruth Johnson 5/19/91

Miss Stephanie Eugenia Brower 5/19/91

Dr. John Henry Berg 5/20/91

Sgt. Maj. Stephen Henry Beatty 5/26/91

Mrs. Burns Moore Fuller 5/30/91

Mr. Bobby Lee Allen 5/31/91

Mrs. Freda Joyce Akins 6/2/91

Mr. Felix Leroy Clanton, Sr. 6/4/91

Mr. Julian Porter Catledge 6/8/91

Mrs. Barbara Faye Holley 6/9/91

Mrs. Lois Sanders Miller 6/10/91

Mrs. Virginia Sizemore Lowry 6/12/91

Mrs. Zelma Hemphill Triplett 6/13/91

Mr. Jay Randall Kirchhoff 6/15/91

Rev. Spiva Leon McCullouch 6/16/91

Mr. Ferrell Sterling Bonds 6/19/91

Mrs. Ruby Jenkins Foshee 6/21/91

Chelsea Lynne Kruger 6/18/91

Mr. Handle Price Ray 6/26/91

Mrs. Mary Elois Bankston 6/26/91

Mrs. Bonnie Chrestman Sutton 6/30/91

Mr. Haldor Alvin Hvinden 7/2/91

Miss Lorette Hardin 7/5/91

Dr. David Lynn Hicks 7/7/91

Mr. William Sham Sills 7/13/91

Mrs. Ruth Eleanor Singley 7/20/91

Mrs. Nell Thomas Rogers 7/22/91

Mr. George Edwin Hall 7/24/91

Mr. Jones Russell Varner 7/25/91

Mrs. Rose Dutton Stiles 7/28/91

Mr. Harvey Thomas Evans 7/30/91

Mr. Howard Hamilton Maples 7/30/91

Mr. James Hulet Ratliff 8/9/91

Mrs. Mary Sanders Waits 8/11/91


Included below, as in some past issues of Seasons, is a question we have been asked about Waller Funeral Home along with our answer. Please let us know if you have questions.

What services does the Funeral Home provide? Transportation of the deceased to the Funeral Home; preparation of the body; assistance in selection of casket and in planning the services and interment; rooms where friends can pay their respects to the deceased and family; the chapel with music system available; grave preparation; transportation for casket, pallbearers, and flowers; acknowledgement cards; obituary service; assistance with death certification; assistance with burial insurance settlements; requests to pallbearers for their participation; other related services. The family makes decisions about what kind of services are desired and the Funeral Home staff carries out the family’s wishes.

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