A series of humorous anecdotes from the long career of a New York City funeral director.
Casey started out in the funeral business as a young man, almost by accident. Over nearly 50 years, he rose from an apprenticeship to funeral home manager to president of his own consulting firm. As is easy to imagine, the author has collected some great stories along the way, and he presents his recollections in this book. Casey has a keen eye for character and comedy, and most of his stories are quite funny, some even bordering on hilarious. Highlights include the time the author had to move the body of a man who had grown too big to fit through his bedroom door, and Casey had to involve the building super, the police and a group of thirsty piano-movers. Another anecdote concerns two families holding viewings at the same time who were unhappy with the color of the dresses the funeral-home staff had chosen for their departed relatives, leading to a rather uncomfortable mid-viewing switch. One story revolves around an alcoholic doorman who tended to park visitors’ cars on the sidewalk, and the author’s failed attempts to get rid of him. Though Casey’s first concern is humor, there are oddly touching moments as well, as when he goes to great lengths, figuratively and literally, to help a poor widow arrange a burial at sea on the cheap. While most of the author’s tales are funny, he tells them with the utmost respect for the living and the dead. Casey is compassionate and clearly feels a strong sense of duty as the person responsible for seeing the deceased off to their final resting places, while helping the living achieve closure. His writing is plain and occasionally stiff, but it’s effective and clearly comes from the heart.
Engaging stories about an unusual career.