The Art of Undertaking
Southern Calls – Volume 18, December 2018
There was no “Merry” Christmas in the small farming community of Germanton, North Carolina on December 25th, 1929, after word got out that Charlie Lawson had murdered his wife and six of their seven children. Eighty-eight years later, a small close-knit community about 35 miles west of San Antonio, Texas will not celebrate a “Merry” Christmas this year, and perhaps for many years to come.
In each of these two horrific events, men and women of our profession were called upon to prepare the bodies of these victims, each one according to the desires of heart-broken family members. Those of us who have not experienced this firsthand, cannot begin to imagine the physical task required of these, our colleagues, much less the emotional stress that follows.
John Cascio is executive director of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association. In a phone conversation a few days following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I asked John how he was getting along. After a moment of silence, he replied, “Mike, I saw more than I needed to see.”
I’ve never forgotten his words.
Whether for an elderly man having lived a full and meaningful life, a young firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty, or a young mother carrying an unborn child murdered while sitting in a church pew, their loved ones call upon you on the worst day of their lives, not to fix what cannot be fixed, but for your compassionate counsel in matters concerning the care of the dead.
This issue of Southern Calls shares “The Calling” of first generation undertaker Luke Teague of Augusta, Georgia, Nicole Charlet Wilcher, first female president of the Louisiana Funeral Directors Association, and Jack Briggs, age 78, of Denton, North Carolina, who found his calling at age 15. Each unique, and each dedicated to serving at the highest level – artists within our profession.
Art defined by Webster is “skill acquired by experience, study or observation.” And, as we begin the fifth year of publication, Southern Calls proudly reaffirms our commitment to share, in both printed word and photography, the People, Places, and Passions devoted to The Art of Undertaking.