About C J’s Spirit To Achieve Her Goals and Realize a Dream
My pursuit to become a funeral director and professional in death care really didn’t begin until my 30’s. Until that point, it was a pipe dream. I was a waitress with 3 jobs. Fresh out of a rotten marriage. No hope of going anywhere in life without getting a career and away from the dead-end work I was in. I didn’t know how exactly I was going to get in, but I had my mind set that I would get there someday. Let me tell you, it sure was no walk in the park trying to get anyone’s attention, in the beginning. It was a man’s world. I had no idea what I was getting into without experience or prior schooling. It didn’t look too good for the home team. Still, I didn’t give up. I sure as heck didn’t sit idle and just hope for it to “happen” either.
Sometimes you pursue relentlessly and doors open. Then the hard work begins. That’s what happened for me. As a woman, I found I had to do quite a bit extra to be considered “able” and I had to pull some amazingly long hours, and put on a happy face when it felt like I could take no more. I was extremely fortunate to have been presented with the opportunity to go to work in an independently owned funeral home, about 90 miles north of my hometown. I was sent the proposal which offered me a 3-bedroom home ( rent-free, with all utilities paid, except telephone), a salary, and an additional scholarship fund setting aside the costs to attend college, after completing the apprenticeship of 2 years. I felt I had won the lottery!!! I moved myself and my two daughters as soon as I was able to finish my term of notice to my jobs.
The work was so hard! But, in return for this opportunity — a chance to write my own ticket to my future, once I was fully trained, schooled, and licensed. I was fully trained and ‘universal’ by the time it was all said and done. In the funeral service profession, ‘universal’ was a rarity in the current era. It meant I would be taught to operate and understand the entire business, according to this proposed contract. I learned more than just how to embalm bodies; the boss owned a cemetery and a crematory — I also learned practices and protocols for running the day-to-day business in the funeral home, such as working and arranging services, filing with county and state agencies all the paperwork required, death certification and permitting. Actually, there WAS one small area of the business I was not shown…selling insurance for pre-need plans. That was because there was already an in-house contractor being paid to handle those. Trust me, I did get to do the other things that go on as well…such as being tasked to have every part of the OSHA requirements fulfilled, ensuring an inspection-readiness of the crematory and the prep room at all times, procuring stockroom and mortuary goods, securing and accounting for all prepared or cremated remains in our care, ensuring the rolling stock was serviced, maintained, and in top-working condition, etc. That was a very busy two years. Before I knew it, the time was over and it was onto college for the ‘book-learning.’
I had to leave my 2 little girls behind as I left for the toughest schooling I’d ever been through. I somehow had to hold a job down and attend school full-time all while living 120 miles away from all of my support systems. It was huge for me. I was terrified living in a stranger’s home in a metro area of one of the densest cities in the U.S. No family. Heck no kitchen privileges! Working all night in downtown Los Angeles, getting home to grab 1 hour of sleep maybe 2 if lucky most days before class started. Can’t tell you how many times I caught myself drifting to sleep at the wheel on the freeway in morning darkness. I was exhausted. Midway through the mortuary science schooling a terrible, tragic accident happened back home. I had to have special time off. I missed classes and was forced to return after a couple of days or face being dropped with just a couple of months more to go to graduation. Just when I was sure it all might kill me…I graduated…with HONORS yet! Then I took the licensing exams and passed those. I was home free and I made it! I did it! How liberating and wonderful! How all of it came together and God it was just the most fantastic thing ever!
So, if you have a dream that you really aspire to make a reality, you will have to remember that it is going to be up to YOU to see that success happen.
It won’t happen by ‘happy accident’ or on luck. It will require an extreme commitment of your time and effort…IF you believe it is something you desire badly enough. If you quit, or lay back and wait for that proverbial ship to just roll in, you will have as good as said the dream was folly.
You can do it. Yes. Even when it appears the whole deck is stacked against you. Even if nobody supports your efforts or goals. Work hard and stay focused. You will find your glory in the accomplishment eventually. Stay the course.