Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Everlasting Hope Funeral Home and Taxidermy

The Everlasting Hope Funeral Home and Taxidermy sits across the street from the Nearly There Rest Home for the Elderly and Infirmed in Cloverdale. The Mortimers opened Everlasting Hope in 1973 and are proud to be the villages only full service mortuary and taxidermy. Bob and Gale Mortimer specialize in the ‘Nearly Perfect’ method of restoring your recently departed to a nearly life like state using a combination of creams, make up, and wood glue mixed with finely ground saw dust.
“My Henry hasn’t looked this good in years,” testified Madge Truby during her husband’s funeral last week.
April Newsome was so pleased at the funeral of her great aunt in November that she inquired if the ‘Nearly Perfect’ age reversal process could be used on the living.

Of course, this masking process has its drawbacks. The deceased’s skin cannot be touched once the application has set and moving the casket must be done delicately. No sudden jerks or tilts beyond 20 degrees.
“The application can and does crack something fierce,” Gale Mortimer told me during my inquiries for this post. “So to prevent an emergency closing of the casket during the viewing it is important that everyone be instructed to look and not touch.”

The Mortimers have signs posted throughout the Home warning people not to touch the deceased. Non reading children are given a coloring book and box of 8 Crayolas when the walk in the door. The first two pages of the coloring book depict a dainty young girl being hoisted up by her father to see the deceased in a casket. The second page focuses on the girl’s look of horror after touching the face of the ‘dead and gone‘ (as the Mortimers call their deceased clients). The ‘dead and gone’s‘ face has multiple cracks radiating out from where the girl’s finger touched the cheek. The detached nose lying to next to the left ear is a nice touch. The artist did an amazing good job recreating that same look you get by tapping a hard boiled egg on a counter top before peeling away the shell. The rest of the coloring book show simple pictures of the Funeral Home, caskets and nearby local cemeteries.

The Mortimers spent Saturday decorating the funeral home for the holidays. “Christmas funerals are hard enough on a family,” Bob said while stringing the lights around the front window and setting up the plastic snowman. “Anything we can do to brighten the mood is appreciated.”

”Not to mention the joy our display gives the poor dears across the street at the Nearly There Rest Home," Gale added. "They see our front window from their day room. Here, take a look.”
She led me to the window and pointed across the street. I could see the large plate glass window of the Nearly There's Day Room. I could see several residents sitting in their wheel chairs. Some were asleep. Others were looking out in our direction. Gale waved. The alert ones waved back.
“Bess their hearts,” she said. “They know they’ll be ours soon enough, so I like to establish a relationship with them before its their time, you understand.” I nooded.

“Gale bakes cookies for them weekly, don’t you sweetheart?” Bob chimed in while bending over to plug in the snowman.
“I do. I do,” Gale replied modestly. “A little added service for the ones that have burial contracts with us and for those that don't.”
“That’s very generous of you to share with non customers,” I said.
“Well, what can one do? You can’t bring a plate of cookies and not offer one to everybody? It just wouldn’t be neighborly. Besides, maybe one of my Chocolate Chunk Delights may swing an undecided our way. It’s been known to happen.”
“Right you are,” Bob said while standing back to admire his Christmas window decorations.

“Look here,” Bob said pointing back out the window.
“Well I declare,” Gale said in astonishment.
The lighting of the window display caused a commotion with the elderly spectators. I saw many of them celebrating by swinging their canes in the air. One older gentleman was spinning doughnuts with his wheelchair. Orderlies moved quickly to restore order by dispensing tranquilizers.

“You see how they enjoy the little extras we provide,” Gale said as she lovingly clutched the arm of her husband.

Before leaving I spent a few more minutes with the Mortimers looking at their other seasonal options available to those that pass on during the holidays. On my walk home I passed the Nearly There's large day room window. The residents were secure in their wheelchairs - looking heavily medicated. They’d had enough excitement for one day.
A kindly old woman waved at me as an orderly gave her a pill. I laughed the rest of the way home after seeing her spit it out when he walked away.

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