Funeral Fun - The Crowed and Dementia Lady

    As a family car driver it is quite common to be out and about on the roads all day.  You may get a pickup so early that you barely have time to get changed and go, then finish so late the sun has gone down.  But you get use to it after a while, and do little things to make the day go by a bit easier.  Such as keeping snack on your person to much on when nobody is looking.

    One of these days however had been so long and tiring.  In fact it had been a long week of me racing about doing lots of things in each day.  It was the middle of the week and I had to pick up the wife of the deceased at 13:15.  The day sheet specified that she did not want to get there too early, before the coffin was at and in the church and was to call her on approach 5minutes before I arrived.  And considering the service started at 13:30 and church was literally 5 minutes drive away this could be an issue.  But no worries, I worked out a way that would take up some time, plus by the time she actually got in the car we would not be there too early.

    When it was time to set off I said bye to the conductor, telling him I would not be there before 13:30.  He replied that he knew the situation and would make sure the coffin was in before I even picked her up.  Little did we know things would not turn out this way.

    I arrived at the nursing home, a rather nice middle-class one with lots of independent living.  As traffic was good and the distance short I got there at 13:00, too early.  Again, I was not worried as it gave me time to make sure the car was clean and organised and to phone her without driving.  I had a habit of calling 15minutes before the pickup time and let them know I would be 5 minutes early.  Not too early as to hurry them but definitely not late either.  This was because many a time the family would more about the pickup time about.  So I called at 13:00, informing the wife that I would be there at about 13:10 and there was no need to hurry as I knew the church was close.  This is something I soon regretted.  The wife was a lovely lady, very kind and nice, but mostly checked out.  We later discovered she had milde to moderate dementia and the event of her husbands sudden death exacerbated it.  She had trouble making, and communicating, decisions or information over the phone.  At first she was quite happy with what I told her, then suddenly worried insisting I arrive at 13:45.  Both not wanting to wait about and not wanting to rush over to the church I informed her that the service would start around then and it was probably best she arrive a little before to touch base with the priest, funeral staff and other mourners.  At first the conversation was very pleasant although confusing.  However it began to deteriorate into just confusion and indecision.  So I suggested and settled on picking her up at 13:20.

    After waiting about for ages it was finally time to get her.  I drove in and waited in the car park as instructed.  Eventually the wife and her sister, who was a sister (nun) came down.  We introduced ourselves and exchanged pleasantries, they were both quite nice people.  And off we went to the church.

    Driving up to the church we come around the last corner and are greeted with the sight of a small crowd around the back of the hearse.  There is the conductor and hearse driver and a bunch of people all doing something with the coffin inside the hearse.  Obviously things had not gone to plan, a fact which I would like to prevent the wife noticing more for her sake than anything else.  So I look about but the only place to park is right behind the hearse and the crowd, right in front of the ordeal.   As I pull up the conductor sees me, races over and opens my door, while the car is still moving.  I was just so shocked, this conductor is such a composed person who is really difficult to rattle.  Yet here he is, opening my door before I even stop to tell me there is a problem.

    Luckily, due possibly to her dementia she never noticed and upon seeing my door open also opened her door, proceeding to hope out as she did so.  Between the sight at the hearse and conductor opening my door so suddenly and unexpectedly I was surprised and still moving slightly.  Thankfully she was not hurt and got out like nothing was wrong.

    After everyone was out of the car the hearse driver, conductor and I went over to the coffin still in the hearse out front of the church.  Without wasting time talking we got a young kid to help us (the deceased was heavy) and took the coffin out, into the church.  The hearse driver and I went to one side where I asked what happened, why the coffin was not in place already.

    He told me that the staff member who was sent to help us had been called away by the big boss when he was only 5minutes from the church.  The boss had him race back to the office to get a payment check for the priest for this job, then come all the way back to the church.  Obviously he arrived late, unable to help.  All four of us were less than impressed, the whole point of having him on the funeral was defeated.  But this did not explain the crowd.  So I asked about why there were all those people fussing behind the hearse.  The hearse driver explained that they had found two people quite willing to help carry in, the young boy wo had helped us and a middle aged man.  However as they had pulled the coffin out the man told them he had bad knees and did not think he could hold the weight.  Seeing him start to wobble the conductor insisted they put the coffin straight back into the hearse.

    When the conductor came out he told us that the priest had already been paid, by the family, and did not need us to pay him to.  he could not understand the cheque that was so important (even if we did need to pay him, we could post the cheque as we have done before).  The conductor then rang up the office, not wanting to pay the priest twice for one job.  In a 'brilliant' move our office insisted he ask the wife about the payment.  Yes, our office wanted the conductor of her husbands funeral on her husbands funeral if she had paid the priest.  Even though I reminded the office and conductor of her dementia.  If she had trouble telling time then organising a payment might not be easy or reliable.  But the office insisted that the conductor ask.

    So the service ended, everyone is out the front milling about and the conductor seized this opportunity to ask the wife.  It was as good a time as any that would be found during a funeral.  He came back over to us after some time with his head in his hands.  The poor lady had no idea one way or the other and was now convinced she had to still pay him.  The priest was set to get paid three times for one job, at about $250 per job that would amount to a nice bit.  Another stick in the score for our offices ingrained inefficiency and borderline incompetence.

    Driving the wife to the cemetery she had no idea and was quite happy considering the circumstances.  Given that the funeral was exacerbating moderate dementia she only had a lose grasp on the situation.  But with her sister the sister looking out for her she would be fine.  However she later wanted to stop for a coffee after the cemetery service, something I did not want to do.  So in another post I'll explain the time I prevented a nice old lady with dementia stopping for a coffee.



  1. PLEASE would you fix your grammar and spelling. in every single section of this whole site are easy primary school errors in this area. Simple words such as coffin HANDLE not Handel (who was a composer in the Baroque era!!!) , I presume that when you say in this story 'Crowed' that you really mean CROWD??

    Just basic spelling and grammar could seriously improve this whole site! I hope that spellings on things such as important paperwork etc are always checked!! Other than that, great blog... nice idea. :) Kind Regards.

    1. I have just discovered this site, and find it absolutely fascinating. I know of no other where the mysterious (to me, at any rate) world of the Undertaker is discussed in such an open and friendly fashion. Surely it is rather petty (here I am attempting to remain polite) to publicly criticise the author's spelling? I will refrain from commenting further.


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