” Sometimes Life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going [ after being fired from Apple ] was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
– Steve Jobs
Stanford University, 2005
Its easy to quote Steve Jobs because he believed in passionate work. He created fans of a company and product instead of simply a consumer, by being passionate about his work. It’s easy to admire him for that. I’m not going to elaborate much more on Steve Jobs even though I feel I could but rather the impact of loving what you do. Here lately more less the impact of loving what I do has had on me and other members of this staff.
Many of you know we endured a horrible fire nearly two years ago this April and spent a full year rebuilding. That year was more tethering to core values then anything we have ever experienced. We remembered on some level that we are privileged to have each little thing that we have no matter how small. We redefined how we wanted to serve families, and we resided to only keep family (staff) who truly knew how to serve people the way they should be. We didn’t settle….we began a new chapter. We continue to look for ways to serve families in a way that best suits each one.
Serving families is the reason we exist however to run a funeral home not corporately owned it often means that the funeral directors and family take true ownership. Those that went through the fire with us especially. So in the middle of the night last week when the fire department notified us to our horror that our alarm was going off. In fear our funeral director Kerry drove here in praying we would not be experiencing this once again. Well obviously we were not…malfunction of an alarm…I arrived a short time later, when they put us on fire watch. Fire watch means your alarm is off so it will not notify the fire dept. so somebody has to stay in the building. So we sat together in the back hallway of the funeral home while we waited on multiple people to show up to fix our malfunctioning fire alarm. My point…..Kerry took ownership of it….he cared. Like any of them would have if they would have answered the phone that evening.
We do what we love, and in order to do that some times it means sitting in a building till 3 am while they fix a fire alarm. It means cleaning bathrooms in between funerals so each time its clean and prepped for a family. It means often that your day begins at 1 am and may not end till well into the next night. Sometimes there are small things that are necessary in order to truly do “great work”. The life of funeral director is full of change and adaption each day at least for or some may say it is full of new beginnings and fire alarms.
Growing up my mother immediately noticed me scanning the newspaper columns while searching for the obituaries. Once I found the obituaries, I would examine the pictures of those printed. This started around the age of four. In 1999 at the age of 10 my great grandmother passed away. I remember staying with my grandmother to keep her company as she had just lost her mother, and I was somewhat angry I wasn’t allowed to make arrangements with her because the funeral home wasn’t a scary place to me like they described to me to lure my wants of going away. At the time I didn’t realize that making arrangements wasn’t a place for children.
Several years later, I lost both of my grandfathers within seven months of each other. Both grandmothers were extremely devastated and I remember ‘smothering” them with love in hopes of giving comfort in those days surrounding the visitation / service. They were just exhausted, and I didn’t want them to lift a finger.
Fast-forward several more years to graduation and college where I was attending Columbia State to become a registered nurse. During my second semester I lost a friend, in a horrible automobile accident, and was able to help her mother during the loss and funeral. These horrible minutes, weeks and months after her death molded my life. I found my purpose in life and it was to serve the community and people I love. I was able to come to Williams Funeral Home hoping for an interview, and they gave me that chance. Now that nursing school was out the window they guided me into Mortuary School.
Here we are 5 years later and I am now a licensed funeral director and crematory operator. Often, I have people ask me, “How did this happen and why do you work at a funeral home” They speak like its something that happens to the unfortunate, but to me there is no where I would rather be. I love serving the families placed before me.