Serving as a funeral director is arguably one of the most demanding career paths one could choose – or be chosen to do. While those employed by larger firms are given the option to work alternating weekends or to use livery services for nighttime removals, many family firms and genuine owner/operators work in the proverbial trenches by spending endless hours at the office during holidays, in the middle of the night and every day of the week – whenever duty calls. While rewarding in many ways, the profession can still be grueling, challenging the patience of spouses and families who remain optimistic and devoted despite having to share the attention of the person they love with a bereaved family.
“Staying grounded and setting priorities are just a few ways to successfully manage my life,” said Michelle Adams, a married, mortician mom who juggles three full-time roles – and not necessarily in that order.
Although Adams has called Savannah, Georgia, home for many years, the former military brat was actually born in Korea and spent her early childhood in Mississippi and Japan.
“My dad was in the Air Force for 23 years and met my mom while he was stationed in Korea,” she described, attributing their long marriage to a mutual love and respect for each other. “My mom knew very little English, and many Asians are not able to work for other people because of the language barrier, so she really made her own way and was a natural entrepreneur. After being awarded the contract, she began cleaning homes on the base.”
“It was so different from what I knew. The people showed up for funerals and carried themselves with reverence,” Hills said. “On the streets in town as well as on the highways, cars pulled over. Drivers often stopped their engines, got out and stood by their cars, removing their hats and placing them over their hearts when a procession passed. I had never seen anything like that.”
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Southern Calls Issue 24
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