Summer 2004

From time to time most of us feel the urge to have a "cleaning out"--determined to get rid of some of the stuff which is taking over our surroundings. Sometimes the results of this effort is a sale, now usually called a "garage sale" or a "yard sale." In the past these were often called "rummage sales," and some of us old-timers can remember rummage sales held on the parking lot on Van Buren Avenue back to Harrison Avenue. Very early on Saturday mornings cars began to pull in to get the choice spots for parking to display their wares then people began to pour in to do serious shopping. The bulk of sales were clothes, children’s clothes were a big seller, especially in the fall. Small stores, like the Golden Rule which was nearby, resented these sales and voiced complaints to city officials--no sales tax collected, no rent paid, etc.

A new way to declutter is being offered by people who organize businesses to come into your home and declutter for you. But this idea and the idea of offering my junk in a yard sale are not for me. I love my junk! I do try to control the junk; I hate obvious clutter more than dust on furniture or floor and webs in corners. I was pleased once to have a friend say that I liked "organized clutter."

Much of my prized clutter is photographs of my family. My refrigerator door abounds with photographs and clippings--some very old and some quite new. I am so attached to some of the photographs that a grandchild may be well into adulthood but still a toddler in my
refrigerator collection. One side of the refrigerator is reserved for magnetized happies given to me by dear friends through the years. I had thought that my days of posting children’s art were passed until last week, when, after great-granddaughter Murphy Grace had come for a visit, I found a drawing posted on the refrigerator at her two-year-old level.

Also posted on the refrigerator in colorful magnetized letters are the names and ages of the youngest grandchildren and the great-grandchild. Recently six-year-old Matt couldn’t wait to finish the singing of "Happy Birthday" to go change his age from a 5 to a 6.

My kitchen window is also a display area. Favorite scriptures and other quotes are pinned to the kitchen curtains. Other favorites (neatly typed and laminated by Trish) are taped to window panes shared with suncatchers and bluebirds.

Don has a box on the countertop desk. Recently I brought in a smoothing iron from the log cabin to weigh down the accumulation in his box, thinking this might shame him into some tossing. He, however, thought the iron was a great idea--now the papers stayed on the pile better.
The utility room’s charm comes from a collection of things I can’t bear to store out of my sight. The freezer there, like the aforementioned kitchen refrigerator, is covered with photographs of friends, family, and extended family. Also displayed in this room are a few crafts, items from our travels, my cuckoo clock, and favorite scenic pictures prepared for framing by friends. At ceiling level is Don’s collections of caps from his activities and travels. Holding first place in my collection is a 12-inch wooden cross made one Easter by grandson Chase. On one side he printed "PatPat and Daddy Don, 5-24-01," on the other side, "Jesus Saves."

A wall in our bathroom displays the six older grandchildren at high school graduations, Chase’s and Matt’s current school pictures, and three choice pictures of our children when they were youngsters. Each of these has its own story. Another, a special favorite, is Miss Emma in her Christmas sweater holding little baby Matt at a family gathering soon after his birth.

A wall in our bedroom holds other photographs--a "Duke’s mixture" of my and Don’s families. Just beneath these is a washstand covered with all sizes of very old family pictures I have collected from all around.

I feel certain there are many, many places where sentiment and personal taste defy all rules of good decorating. I do make an effort to limit my personal mementos to the back of the house, and I enjoy them daily as I go about my routine.

As I was making this survey of my personal keepsakes, I had restless nagging thoughts about my life. Once again I am drifting in and out of a satisfying, consistent prayer life. I have found some comfort in my large collection of devotional books. The old standbys with my marginal notes, much like a diary, remind me that I have traveled this road before. A new book, A Woman’s Call to Prayer: Making Your Desire to Pray a Reality, by Elizabeth George, has also been helpful. I am trying to overcome negative thoughts and influences in my life and to do something I long to do and feel in my heart is right for me and would glorify God and bring honor to His name.

I allow many opportunities to "do unto the least of these" to pass by. I accept that many things are now beyond my ability, but I do not always seek out and do those things of which I am capable. When the desire is strong enough, we can find means to minister to lonely, hurting people. We are surrounded by needs we can fill. My thoughts of these scatter like birdshot. My first move must be reliance upon God to lead me. He is waiting patiently for me to come to Him through prayer seeking his direction.

Prayer is one thing I can do. When I awoke at five o’clock on a recent morning, God brought to my mind a family who was waiting by the ICU. In the early morning stillness I prayed undistracted for each of these and for the critically ill one that God would give them peace and strength.

Some people come to mind who are always the first to offer a helping hand. I admire the way they arrange their lives based on unselfish priorities, and I think of the story of Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus, in which Jesus credits Mary for making the better choice—spending her time at Jesus’ feet instead of being occupied with household duties.

I recently attended the community-wide luncheon for Mississippi Army National Guard of this area being deployed for further training and action. As I looked from one to the other of those leaving, I was comforted to see that they were accompanied by a chaplain. I gained more understanding of the work of chaplains during a recent visit in our home by a former pastor who has just returned from spending six months as a chaplain in Iraq. In answer to my very pointed questions, he assured me that the chaplains are readily available to bring religious encouragement and comfort to the troops.

Whether it is our outward, visible surroundings or our innermost beings, the many crises in our world just now behoove each of us to push back the confusion around us and feel the peace God offers. I firmly believe the only way we can know peace in our hearts and lives is to live close to the Lord. Claiming God’s help, I am striving for this!


Following the death of President Ronald Reagan on June 5, 2004, Waller Funeral Home provided a register for members of the community to sign as personal expressions of their sympathy to the Reagan family. Similar signings were held throughout the country by members of the National Funeral Directors Association, which offered some suggestions for this endeavor. After signing, the register and a letter of condolence were sent to Mrs. Reagan and the Reagan family in Simi Valley, California, to later be forwarded to the Reagan Presidential Library.

More than 500 people expressed their sympathy for the family and respect for President Reagan by coming to the funeral home to sign the register. This local response and tributes across the nation attested to the popularity of President Reagan. Even people who did not share his political views admired and respected him as a person.

We felt good to be a part of this project and appreciate the community response.

Can you train yourself to be happier? Researchers offer no elixir but scientific and anecdotal evidence suggest there are influences you can control:

Be Grateful: Dwell on the good things in life. Take time to savor everything from snagging a great parking spot to the loyalty of friends. Writing down things for which you are grateful each day can help.

Forgive: Let go of anger and hurt. It can be hard, but it’s liberating.

Make friends: The happiest people all enjoy great friendships. The number of friends may not matter as much as the closeness of the relationships.

Challenge yourself: Lose yourself in challenging activities that you enjoy, whether it’s playing the piano or training for a marathon. People who spend a lot of time in this "flow" zone tend to be happier.

Be good to others: Research shows that altruism causes others to be nicer to you, makes you feel good and creates an upward spiral of happiness.

Let small things slide: The happiest people don’t fixate on little things that go wrong. Fix them or move on.

Money isn’t everything. Really. Being rich may make you a bit happier, but pursuing wealth may require sacrificing close social relationships and challenging activities that make you happy.

—Kyung M. Song Knight Ridder News

The teacher was exploring the children’s notion of God. She asked, "Tommy, who is God?" Six-year-old Tommy furrowed his brow and thought for a moment or two about the question. Suddenly he brightened, and with a grin said: "I think God is the man who saved the Queen."

A mischievous boy was asked by his mother, "How do you expect to get into heaven?" He thought for a moment and said, "Well, I shall just run in and out and keep slamming the door until they say ‘for goodness sake come in or stay out,’ and then I’ll go in.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am saddened by the loss of a friend killed in an auto accident just a day before she would have participated in her graduation ceremony.

I knew her from her basketball games and often would talk to her mother at the games.

I want to pay my respects at the funeral home. I will be going by myself so I will be very nervous about the proper way to handle things. I want to send a card and flowers.

I purchased a sympathy card for the family. Should it be addressed to the parents or the deceased? I assume it should be addressed to the deceased. Please correct me if I am wrong. I have never had to handle anything like this before.

I have no idea what to say to the family. This is very painful for them because they were close to their daughter.

What is the proper way to express your concern and sorrow without upsetting them further?

Gentle Reader: This is always a daunting situation, even for those who have had to go through it before, and Miss Manners admires you for facing it. Many an adult takes the cruel and cowardly course of running away.

The only thing that could upset the parents more than they already are is the impression that others don’t care. But you have nobly determined to use all the ways to show that you do, and Miss Manners need only guide you through the technicalities.

The flowers should be sent to the funeral home, addressed to "The funeral of’ with your friend’s name. Condolences are addressed to the bereaved, in this case the parents, but a letter is infinitely preferable to a card where you merely sign someone else’s words.

This brings us to the question of what to say. Both in person and by letter, what you need to tell the parents is that you sympathize with them and cared for their daughter. The former is done just by saying "I’m so sorry," and by writing, "I send you my deepest sympathy." Elaborating on this is what gets people saying foolish, hurtful things such as "I know how you feel" or "Time will heal you."

Commercial Appeal June 1, 2003

As in some past issues of Seasons we are answering some questions frequently asked. Questions in this issue deal with cremation.

Does Waller Funeral Home offer cremation services? Yes. Any funeral home can help with cremations; the funeral home does not have to have their own crematory. Mississippi has several excellent crematories which serve the state’s funeral homes. Because cremation is not as common in Mississippi as in other parts of the country, many funeral homes do not have their own crematory.

Does cremation cost more when the funeral home does not have a crematory? No. It can even cost less. All funeral homes are required to have pricing for cremation on their general price list. You can compare prices to find out who has the best price and services. Waller Funeral Homes charges $1,000 for direct cremation.

What are the different types of cremation? We offer two types: Direct cremation and traditional cremation. Direct cremation includes initial transfer of the deceased from the place of death, transportation to the crematory, cremation, and basic services of the staff. Traditional cremation includes basic services, embalming and other preparation of the body, use of the facilities and staff for visitation, use of facilities and staff for a funeral or memorial service, use of facilities for care and custody, register book, personalized or traditional memorial folders, acknowledgment cards, pictures of floral arrangements delivered to the funeral home, personalized video tribute, transfer of remains to the funeral home, transportation to the crematory, cremation.

Why do families chose traditional cremation over direct cremation? It is often said that funerals are for the survivors. Cremation families want the support of the funeral service even if the deceased has requested cremation. Traditional cremation offers the family the opportunity to have viewing and visitation and also allows friends to have that opportunity. Helping families through a death experience is our number one priority, but friends also grieve. Traditional cremation allows more involvement and support for everyone. The family can go through some of what we call a traditional service.

Can you prearrange a cremation service? Yes, you can prearrange cremations just like traditional burial services.

What is the difference between a memorial service and a funeral service? The body is present at a funeral service. The body is not present at a memorial service. When cremains are present, the service is a memorial service.

Please feel free to ask: come to the funeral home, call (234-7971), write (P 0. Box 1200, Oxford, MS 38655), or e-mail ( We welcome the opportunity to talk with you.

Weather watching is part of our routine on funeral days at Waller Funeral Home. Our Mississippi climate provides variety which we, for the most part, enjoy. When the weather causes problems, we do whatever we can to adjust and provide the best measures we can--but that is another story. A recent Associated Press story makes us realize our problems could be worse--much worse—and different.

From October, when digging becomes next to impossible, until the spring thaw softens the ground, many of Alaska’s dead are put in storage. Digging usually begins with burial of infants and urns in early May, later in higher, colder elevations. Outside the cities, burials during the winter are still common though difficult. The idea of digging graves in advance of the freeze was once tried, but nobody wanted these graves; they wanted to be buried by their families or in another spot. 

Delayed burial occur also in other frigid climates across the North, including some parts of New England and northern Minnesota. In Canada, winter burials are still common. After clearing the snow, fires are used to slowly thaw the ground.

Reverend Scott Fisher, of the 1,200-member St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Fairbanks, was quoted in disagreement with the practice of storing bodies over the winter because the flow of a service from church to graveside is psychologically important for grieving families.

"The sound of the earth on the casket—ka-thud--breaks through some of the shock and the grief," he said. Also, he said, "Say somebody dies and nothing happens for seven months. By that amount of time—five months, six months, seven months—a thin veneer of feeling has begun and it gets ripped off."

Perhaps our occasional weather problems are not as bad as we thought!

Case Robert Walden Kennedy, infant son of Leslie and Rocky Kennedy, born prematurely on July 5, 2004, continues to improve at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Our thoughts and prayers continue for Case, Leslie, Rocky, and Brennice as we share their joy and anxiety.

Billy Graham, "My Way"
I know we should pray for our nation’s leaders, and my wife and I try to do this every day. But a friend of mine says we also ought to be praying for the leaders of other countries, even those that are our enemies. Is this true? I don’t know how I would pray for them?

It has been my privilege to know many of our nation’s leaders over the years, and virtually without exception they have expressed gratitude for the prayers of others (even if they weren't religious themselves). Our world has many problems--but it would be in even worse shape were it not for the prayers of people like you.

Yes, the Bible says we should pray for all leaders--even our enemies. After all, don’t they especially need God’s direction, and even His restraining hand to keep them from doing more evil? The Apostle Paul wrote, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority" (I Timothy 2:1-2).

Remember, too, that Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. He said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). I believe this is only possible when we allow Christ’s love to fill us.

What should you pray for them? Pray that God will hinder their evil plans and cause them to do good instead. Pray also that God will turn their hearts to Himself and away from evil. And continue to pray for the leaders of our own nation, for they need God’s wisdom.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

—Thomas Obediah Chisholm

We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from May 30, 2004, through August 16, 2004.

Mr. John H. "Buddy" Bowen / May 30, 2004
Mrs. Mamie Downs Ausburn / June 5, 2004
Mrs. Zola Metts Fudge / June 12, 2004
Mr. James William "Jim" Pennington / June 20, 2004
Mrs. Mildred Davis "Millie" Niehus / June 24, 2004
Mrs. Carolyn Downs DuBois / June 25, 2004
Mr. Payne Avent Sneed / June 27, 2004
Mrs. Norma Jacobson Burnham / July 2, 2004
Mr. Angelo Verucchi / July 7, 2004
Mr. Danny Jeroll Hudson / July 8, 2004
Mrs. Janet Ivy Whitten / July 12, 2004
Mr. William Arden "Bill" Langdon, Jr / July 15, 2004
Mr. Barry Royce Linton / July 18, 2004
Mrs. Audrey Lefler Murchison / July 24, 2004
Mrs. Mary Lee Rea / July 26, 2004
Mr. T. J. Walls / July 29, 2004
Mrs. Sarah Simpson Bedell / August 13, 2004
Mrs. Barbara Conlee Mize/ August 14, 2004
Mr. Van E. Burgess / August 16, 2004

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