This Story Will Pierce Your Heart

, , , , , | Right | November 20, 2019

(I work in a popular alternative clothing store. I am pretty accustomed to getting customers with tattoos and piercings, but usually when a customer is “new to the scene” we end up having conversations about tattoos and piercings. I’m helping a woman in her late 40s pick out some studs for her nose.)

Customer: “Oh, I like your tattoo! What does it say?”

(I’m very used to this. I have a large script tattoo that covers the entire inside of my bicep.)

Me: “It says, ‘If we’re stuck on this ship and it’s sinking, then we might as well have a parade.’ It basically means we are all here for now and we should enjoy life before it ends.”

Customer: “Oh, I absolutely love it! You know, I lost both of my sons and my husband in a car accident. I miss them so much, but instead of being depressed about it, I try to live my life by having as many good experiences as I can. I know they’d want that for me. I know since they can’t live life anymore, I should live mine for them. I actually just got my nose pierced and I got a tattoo, because I figured, hey, try everything once. And you, you’re still young. Before you know it, you’ll be as old as me. So, live your life as best as you can and enjoy it. And love your loved ones every day, and appreciate them, because you never know when they’ll be gone forever. I love that you have that tattoo; it makes me hopeful for you.”

(This lovely woman’s words have stuck with me ever since that day. She really warmed my heart and made me learn to appreciate my loved ones and new experiences — and my tattoo — more than I already do. Her kind words will stay with me forever. And I hope, if I never see her again, that she lives the rest of her life as fully and as happily as she can.)

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Finding The Sugary Silver Lining

, , , , , , | Related | November 19, 2019

I was attending a funeral. The elderly mother of a friend had died, and close family members were reading personal messages. A granddaughter, about fifth or sixth grade, declared that it wasn’t so problematic that Grandmother had dementia:

It meant she sometimes forgot whether she had dealt sweets or not and they walked away with two pieces of candy.

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Paying For Real Estate Will Follow Us Into Death

, , , , , , , | Related | November 14, 2019

My grandfather recently passed away. Known for his frugality, he bought his burial plot in the cemetery at his summer home’s church when they were having some sort of sale, and he got a “super deal.” His brother-in-law and sister also bought a plot at the same time, and his brother-in-law passed six years prior to my grandfather’s death. My grandfather was a businessman and dabbled in many trades and industries and owned most of his own businesses. His most prominent one — and the one that lasted the longest and was his passion — was real estate.

We gathered around the gravesite for the burial service. Afterward, we wanted to walk to my great-uncle’s gravesite, which we could make out in the distance, but was still in view of my grandfather’s gravesite. In an effort to lighten the mood, my cousin said the following:

“Corner plot, direct line of sight from Old Uncle Jack, plenty of parking on both sides, beautiful greenery, location at his favorite church on the Cape… He really was a real estate man. Location, location, location!”

We all laughed and appreciated his humor after an emotional and somber week.

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That’s A Lot Of Dead Pauls

, , , , , , | Related | November 7, 2019

(My grandfather recently passed away. In planning the services, my father and his siblings ask us cousins to be pallbearers. Even though we’ve known quite a few people who have passed, my sister has not been to as many funerals as I have and is not accustomed to some of the terms related to the event. When my father asks if we are okay with being pallbearers, my 26-year-old sister asks a very interesting question:)

Sister: “So… is it called ‘pallbearers’ because Grampa’s name was Paul?”

(She thought it was a Paulbearer for Paul, Tombearer for Tom, Marybearer for Mary, etc. My family and I had a good chuckle during an emotional week.)

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We All Hail From Coincidenceville

, , , , , | Right | October 20, 2019

(I am the OP of this story. I’m posting this years later, but this event happened later that same day. I am in the back room, showing off my grandfather’s flag to one of our security officers who trained at the same base my grandfather was stationed at. A coworker calls me to the front.)

Coworker: “Hey, [My Name], this guy is asking about some cigarettes I’ve never heard of. You’re the one who knows where to go if we don’t carry something; can you help him?”

(I get to the front and this guy has a pack of cigarettes that aren’t found in this state, but I have seen them before. My mom and I stopped at a convenience store for gas at one point while waiting on my grandfather’s funeral, and they had a sign advertising a price drop in this particular brand, and the design of the box had caught my eye.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, I think you can only get these in Kentucky, maybe in places close to the state line. I’ve only seen one store in Tennessee just last week that has these.”

Customer: “Oh! I’m from Tennessee! That’s so cool; where’d you visit?”

(As my family is from the Appalachian region, it’s filled with some very small towns that most people wouldn’t have heard of, so I have to pause and think of the nearest big city.)

Me: “Uh… do you know where [Town] is? Or New [Town]?”

Customer: “I’m from New [Town]!”

Me: “I was in [Smaller Town] last week! My grandpa was [Grandpa]!”

(The customer’s face lights up with recognition when I say that.)

Customer: “YOU’RE [DAD]’S DAUGHTER! I go to church with your father; he’s always talking about you! I forgot where he said you lived, but I knew it was around here somewhere! How is everyone up there?”

Me: “Not so good. I just got back from grandpa’s funeral; it’s my first shift since last Wednesday.”

Customer: “What?! [Grandfather] is dead?! No one told me he’d been sick! You have a great day, [My Name]. I need to go call my brother!”

(He hurries out of the store. My coworkers think it is an amazing coincidence, but I just kind of laugh.)

Me: “Pretty sure he’s an alcoholic.”

Coworker: “Why do you say that?”

Me: “He’s clearly not close blood family, or he’d have known about Grandpa’s fall a couple of weeks ago. The only reason I could think he’d be that upset is if he bought Moonshine off him.”

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