You Do What For A Living!!?? Part 2
Part 2 from our awesome funeral director Toni…
Mortician!? That was an eye opener….for sure! Most people, when they think of a mortician, picture a portly older gentleman in a black suit and shiny wing tip shoes. Well, I might have the “portly” part down, but I’m FAR from a suit and wing tip shoe kind of person!! The only dead person I had actually seen “up close and personal” was my dad in 1988. At that time, I gave no thought as to how he got from the hospital in Kalispell where he had died, to the casket in the viewing room in our little town.
Now, with all those tests I’d taken having opened up an alternate path, I had some thinking to do. So…I “thunk” about it, talked to family, friends and the funeral director who had cared for my dad. I made the decision to go for it…and immediately thought “where do I go to learn this?” I knew positively that there was no school in Montana offering this type of program. I had no computer/internet then (1995) so trekked back down to the college counseling center and started paging through their catalogs. The closest Mortuary Science schools were in California (too far away for me) and Oregon (a possibility). Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon had an excellent 2 year Associates program, was close to home and was more affordable that a private college.
Got an application package sent off to them in November of 1995 and was accepted into the program for the 1996 term. Meanwhile, I’m checking out the course list and about to have a cow!! It was scary…lots of chemistry, biology and anatomy as you might expect. But also Mortuary & Cemetery Law (who knew!?), Embalming Chemistry, Funeral Service Microbiology (eyes starting to glaze over), plus Embalming 1, 2 AND 3!! Not to mention that at the end of our course of study we had to take the National Boards…No pass, No License. Scary and a bit daunting.
Fall 1996 finds me starting all over again, but pretty excited about it overall. The courses were hard, fun and rewarding, some were a revelation. I served an unpaid apprenticeship, was a paid intern at a corporate owned funeral home and was a body removal technician for a privately owned company. Through all this, I found that this type of career did indeed suit me and I was getting the feeling that I might be good at it as well.
We were heading towards graduation and I still had not actually decided if I would stay on Oregon or head home and look for work there. I figured I could worry about that after the National Boards were taken and scored and I knew for certain I had passed and could get licensed.
That was a background worry all through the final semester as it was so very important and from all I’d heard….difficult enough to give you a mini-stroke! But more on that and the end of the story in part 3. Until then, thanks for reading this…take care. Toni