Thursday, October 6, 2016

DYI Funerals

Swiped this off Facebook because it reminded me of my late father.

My maternal grandfather died in Cottonwood, AZ. The family wanted him buried in Walden, CO. My father borrowed a station wagon/hearse from the Mortuary in Steamboat Springs, CO. This was not the formal hearse but a utility vehicle. After loading an empty coffin he headed to Cottonwood.

Enroute the alternator failed and he had to stop in Kayenta Springs, AZ.No alternator was available and had to come from Tuba City, AZ. Since he had to wait,  he slid the coffin to one side, laid down, and caught some sleep.

Kayenta Springs is a Navajo town, and a tough town at that. This was prior to the coal mines and power plants.  Navajos have strong beliefs about death and dead people, as in they want nothing to do with them or anyone associated with them. Not dissing their beliefs but situations can become awkward. The alternator finally arrived but the repair place employees wouldn’t come near the station wagon or my father. Finally, with the intervention of tribal police (who also kept their distance) the staff put the  alternator and some tools where my father could reach them. He promptly made the necessary repair. There was more awkwardness as he returned the tools and paid for the alternator but he was soon on his way.

I’m sure the situation was helped by my father’s people skills and that he could get by in their language. He had a gift for languages and had Navajo work gangs while he was with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. He was by no means fluent but had enough to communicate.

At Cottonwood, the remains were placed in the coffin and my father, mother, and her oldest sister made the drive back to Steamboat Springs.

My sister and I are descendants of a long line of hard nosed,  practical people. We learned most things are nothing more than a job of work. Some jobs are damned unpleasant, to be sure, but they nothing more than a job that needs to be done. So, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Git’er done”.


  1. When the auto supply store balked at delivering the necessary parts, our Mother told them that if they didn't deliver them she "would have her father in the coffin haunt them". The tribal police arrived at the garage with 2 squad cars, 4 officers and Code Red. The owner of the garage had told our father to fix the vehicle, leave the extra parts on the counter with the tools and he proceeded to go home. He wanted no part of that operation. Dad left the money, parts and tools on the counter and proceeded on his way. Problem solved.

    We are a family that does not let minor impediments get in the way of solving a problem. Maybe sometimes we should. We also never learned the meaning of the word "quit". This is one of our virtues and strengths.

    1. Thanks for adding details. I was in Germany when this all happened. Think Mom read a lot of Tony Hillerman novels. She, too, could communicate quite well when the occasion warranted.

    2. Brings to mind another funeral where your excellent communication skills kept your brother from beating the shit our of someone who had it coming.

  2. Awe sweet memories!!! Somebody needs to be around to somewhat keep you in check. Sisty