I took a family out to sea not long ago, to scatter the ashes of their mother. The youngest daughter talked about her relationship with her mom from the moment we met. She spoke about places they had gone, things they had done together, just she and her mom. She spoke about things her mom had told her, that she remembered and held dear, she shared her thoughts and wishes to be just like her mom, but never once, did she seem to understand that her mom had passed. This tore at my heart the moment we left the shore. When we arrived at our site, a beautiful clear morning off the coast of Long Beach, I gave each person time to say goodbye before I recited the prayer. She continued to cheerfully recall moments of love and joy that she alone shared with her mom. When I lowered the basket covered with Rose Petals, and we watched the ashes slowly move away from the boat, she yelled….Goodbye Mommy, I love you! I’ll always love you! Goodbye Mommy…
I am in a Great location for my business now, I’m in Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach Marina, right outside of Gladstone’s Restaurant, next to the Pine Avenue Pier. I’m on Dock-5, and I share the dock with another company….Boat and Beds. I am on a side tie, the first position on the Port side facing the walkway, and Gladstone’s Restaurant. I have a large banner on the bridge that advertises Burials At Sea by Captain Johnnie Lee, I have a sign on a post at the entrance to the dock, and a Sandwich board on the walkway. So if you don’t bump your head on the sign, you’ll trip over the sandwich board, and then see the banner as you’re falling into the harbor….one way or the other, you can’t miss me.
This location isn’t great for privacy, you can’t really see details of what’s in the boat from the walkway, but you can see me if I’m standing up, which means taking a dash from the shower into the salon for whatever reason becomes trickier, and sometimes VERY revealing.
At least once per weekend, I try to go out on the walkway (in uniform) to pass out Trifolds to people passing by, and to answer any questions they may have about my business. At first people were ignoring me, as if acknowledging me standing there would somehow acknowledge my service, and very few people are comfortable talking about death, funerals or those types of topics. That seems to be changing, as people are getting a little use to seeing me out there. I’m meeting some really nice people as the weather is improving, and we kid and laugh about my services as they tell me they are not ready yet, and I reply….I can wait. The Trifolds are being taken, people are reading them and asking questions, I believe things are getting better.
I met a gentleman today named David, while standing out on the walkway. He was in a wheelchair, a retired Vet. We talked for awhile, and he said he would want to prepay for my services. I explained that Pre-payment was possible, and briefly how it would be handled. He became a little emotional and said he wasn’t ready to go, and I said it wasn’t his choice, it was Gods choice and decision when we would all leave here. I told him he needed to talk to God, and trust and have faith in God for all of his concerns. I shared a bible verse that always helped me during times of struggle….
Mark 11:23 “For verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatever he saith”.
I told David that Faith was the key, and was so very important. The name of my boat is Great Faith, which I hope says a lot about Gods character in me, and how I know that my business will succeed.
I await my next Jabez appointment, and pray that I will handle it better next time.
I believe that most people think that we in the funeral industry are immune to the pain and grief of losing a loved one, because we are exposed to death so frequently. I thought this as well before becoming a part of this industry, but this belief could not be more wrong.
My association with Los Angeles County Funeral Directors Association has shown me that our collective mutual priority, is to help the remaining family members and friends through this transition, as best we can.
I lost my best friend to cancer recently, she was 55. I lost my Dad a few weeks after Candace, and it is still difficult to talk about him at length without fighting back tears.
I listen to the families that I take out to sea, and sincerely pray for them, as much as I pray for their loved ones soul, who’s ashes we are scattering at sea. It is the family and friends who remain that must overcome the emotional, financial and personal void that was lovingly filled by their loved one.
Comfort, care, safety and peace are only some of the things that make me different from my competitors. I seek and receive these things from God for you and I, before we leave the shore.
You are welcome to visit me on my vessel “Great Faith”, on Dock-5 in Rainbow Harbor Marina, Long Beach, CA.