My week started like any other ordinary Monday.  I had two funeral ceremonies to officiate, so my thoughts were with the two families who had a very difficult day ahead.  The ceremonies were prepared, rehearsed, printed out in a presentation folder and I was ready to ensure that the memories they had entrusted to me were going to be delivered in the most heartfelt manner.  I was cool, calm and collected. For a while at least.
I always plan to arrive at my funeral services at least ½ hour before the scheduled time, to check on the music, make sure everything is in place and to greet the family upon arrival.  And to make provision for those curve balls that the day can hurl at you. Like a flat tyre on the way to the first funeral service of the day. A mile from home, my car flashed at me like never before – warning me of low tyre pressure.  Being a bit of a girl – I turned the radio up so that it would distract me from the flashing light on the dashboard.  It seemed the most logical thing to do. On second thoughts, I turned the tunes down and pulled in to the local petrol station – just to be on the safe side.  After all – my car is very reliable (it has to be in my job) and she wouldn’t let me down – so I’d best heed her advice.  I was presented with a very very very flat back left. The modern woman that I am, I pulled up next to the ‘air supply machine thingy,’ unscrewed the cap off my tyre and that’s when I started to show myself up.  It just would not work.  After some nervous, embarrassed giggling and three aborted attempts, (and losing a little bit of the cool, calm and collected look) I turned to the couple in the car behind me with an exasperated gasp and a plead for help.  I could sense that the wife in the passenger seat was ‘with me’ – the husband dutifully got out to assist – but the ‘air supply machine thingy’ wouldn’t work for him either.
A Headless Chicken
By now I was flapping around like a headless chicken – my only thoughts were for the family who were relying on me for their loved ones farewell.  My car could wait, but they could not.  Any leading Funeral Celebrant will tell you that their greatest fear is to not let a family down.  I would just not let that happen but the clock was ticking.  A taxi wouldn’t be quick enough. I rang the funeral directors advising them of what was happening– fortunately they are local to me but their cars had already left for the chapel, but they were on the case.
Headless chicken
Good Samaritans
That is where the first of my good Samaritans came to my rescue.  A gentleman had heard and witnessed my dilemma, understood the role I had to be play and promptly offered to drive me to the crematorium. I could have kissed him.  My mother always taught me never to accept lifts from strangers – but that was the last thought on my mind (sorry mom).  Scripts, comb and lippy in hand, with my scarf blowing in the 80mph wind – I jumped into his car – my Knight in Shining Armour – I scooped up whatever was on his front seat – plonked it on my lap and strapped myself in.  As he was pulling away seconds later, I received a call from my Funeral Director saying that one of their cars was on its way to fetch me.  Now reverting to sign language as I gesticulated wildly to the Knight telling him to pull over – I can only surmise that he regretted ever getting out of bed. I’m embarrassed to say that as I got out of his car, I truly don’t believe that I said thank you properly.  I may have, but I don’t recall doing so. For that, Mr Good Samaritan, I can only apologise profusely and reassure you that you have restored my faith in humanity, yet you will never know how truly thankful I am for your very kind gesture. I didn’t ask your name, I didn’t make a note of your registration number or type of car – other than your vehicle was covered in branded logo’s – you may be in the racing car business – and you were one of my Samaritans at the Jet garage on the A435 in Mappleborough.  Perhaps I’ll do one of those social media posts that hopefully go viral and you’ll get to find out.  Please know that your mother, wife, family must be SO proud of you…
Knight in Shining Armour
Especially when I flung myself out of your car, only to realise some 5 minutes or so later that I had taken your diary with me, and then rang random numbers of the people in your diary that you may or may not have had appointments with on the same day. Only for you to return with a look of despair as you realised what had happened and definitely must have regretted that our paths ever crossed! All of this seems long-winded but I can assure you readers, this all happened in a flash and a blur.  My next Good Samaritan arrived in the form of John from Dyers Funeral Directors. In the comforting manner that he always is, and that one looks for, when dealing with a world turned upside down. We arrived at the crematorium ahead of time, and my composure regained – few would have known any different.   Post service, I was returned to my abandoned car, John went to fit my emergency tyre, so that I could at least get to my next service in another 2 hours’ time only to find out that I didn’t have a locking wheel nut removal tool.  My heart sank.  This was an item that could only be purchased from the car dealership.  No locking wheel nut removal tool = no change of tyre = up the creek without a paddle (so they say).  I’ll try and make the rest of this story shorter for you and cut to the chase.  Dearest John, my extra special Good Samaritan of the day, not only managed to work some miracle and pump my flat tyre sufficiently, but he followed me some 15 miles to the car dealership (they had to order the item but match it to my car before they could do so), he also followed me to my next funeral at a different crematorium that was not arranged by his firm, stayed with me, kept me company for the whole afternoon while I waited for the locking wheel nut and ensured that I got home safely. I left home at 09h30 and returned at 17h30.  He stayed with me the whole time.
The Moral of the Story?
No matter how prepared you are, no matter how much you think you are in control – life sometimes has a way of taking you out at the knees. I admit that I am fiercely independent, I’m proud of that but accept that I am sometimes too much so; without the genuine kindness and selflessness of a complete stranger and the dedication of colleagues in the funeral industry who share the passion that what we do, is not about ‘us’ – it’s about the commitment that as a collective, we ensure that the families we provide a service for, on one of the most difficult days they will face, receive the best attention that they can.

To upcoming Celebrants: I’ve been a Celebrant for 3 years and thought I’d seen it all.  From structuring a ceremony to accommodate a family member that has a coffin phobia, to working with families that don’t see eye-to-eye, to liaising with families that are in other countries across different time zones. Every day is different. No two services are the same. No amount of preparation or planning is fool proof, but my rule is to always have a Plan B, just in case.  My phone is always charged; I have access to an electronic copy of the ceremony from my phone so that I can email it to the FDs or another Celebrant if necessary; I always give myself at least ½ hour spare before the start of a funeral service and I always have enough petrol in my car.

And now? I always have a locking wheel nut tool “thingy” to hand.

Wheel lock key