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Some Mightly Nice People

      
Todd Van Beck's picture
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OK I admit it.  I am biased to people from the Midwest.  This I believe is a natural psychology simply because I was born and raised between Iowa and Nebraska.  Interestingly while today I am drawn to people in the Midwest, when I was a young stupid lad I truthfully could not wait to get out of Southwestern Iowa.  Today I can’t wait to get back home.  As the veil of years has passed I find I am chronically homesick for home, for Iowa, for Nebraska, for Omaha, and for my little villages that are my hometowns, Avoca and Hancock, Iowa.  I probably will only return to Iowa to be buried, but in the meantime I think about the Midwest all the time.

Last week I returned to the Midwest to make a presentation to the Tri-State Funeral Directors Association convention which involved the Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri Funeral Directors Associations.  My longtime friend Pam Scott, executive director of the Kansas group, made the arrangements and as usual she did her work with quiet professionalism and great attention to detail.  It is always a joy to work with Pam; she is one of the best.

My purpose in recording these thoughts is simple.  The members of these three organizations are wonderful people.  They are kind, considerate, and thoughtful, and above all strike me as believing very much in the value and benefits of funeral service.

I got up and babbled on for a couple of hours, as usual my perspiration problem left me soaked, and I don’t believe I told the group anything they already did not now, but their response, in spite of my glaring deficiencies, left me with a warm spot in my heart. Add this to my warm spot for the Midwest in general. It was a mighty enjoyable experience.

One of the experiences that touched me the most was the utter reverence and compassion that I witnessed as I spoke at the Kansas group’s Service of Remembrance.  It was evident by the serious, sober, and reverential expressions on people’s faces that these funeral directors believe deeply in the value of rites, rituals and ceremonies.  I was honored to be asked to preside at this service.

One of my real heroes in life, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, once wrote, “A man searches the world over to discover what he wants and returns home to find it.”

The Tri-State convention was not just another professional assignment for speaking. I am certain 90% of the group had heard every one of my stories a hundred times, but for me the convention was an experience of traveling back home.  It did this old undertaker's heart and soul good.  TVB