Dear Holly: You Won the Boat Race Against Your Brother!

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

You have now been initiated into the Shell tradition of boat racing in the creek.

Back in college, some of my friends and I would make silly boats of of plastic bottles and race them in the creek in a nearby park.

Several years ago, when your brother was about your age now, I started teaching him how to make boats to take to the creek.

Now this tradition has been passed down to you, as your brother built a brand-new boat for you.

Honestly, I wasn’t even involved in the process. He took care of it all.

All I did was walk the two of you down to the creek and watch you both have fun.

And as it turns out, you actually won the boat race!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Helping Your Sister Build a Boat for the Race

8 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Over the years, you and I have had this tradition of going to the creek in the next neighborhood over, to sail your newest homemade boat.

Now that it finally rained recently, allowing to give the creek water again, we decided to head back there.

But first, you spent some time with your sister after church, helping her design her own boat, so that the two of your could race them.

To your surprise, her boat won the face.

To my surprise, that didn’t bother you at all.

I think you were just proud to teach her how to have fun in a new way!

Love,

Daddy

How to Make Funeral Arrangements at the Last Minute

Did your loved one unexpectedly pass away? Your next step is to plan a funeral on short notice. Discover how to make funeral arrangements quickly.

How often do you think about dying? Even if you don’t obsess about your own death, you might think about what might happen if someone you love dies.

What would you do if a family member, partner, or close friend died unexpectedly and you had the job of planning their funeral?

Unless you’ve made a career of it, or you’ve planned the funerals for other loved ones, you have no idea how to make funeral arrangements. You’re not alone, and shouldn’t be at a time like this.

We want to take a minute and help you prepare for this difficult event. Read this post, print it out or save it in your archives. You’ll have a step-by-step plan at your fingertips.

Work with a Checklist

In a perfect world, you’d have time to talk with your loved one ahead of time. If you’re dealing with an unexpected death, you won’t have the luxury of knowing what they wanted for their final goodbye.

Making a funeral checklist as soon as possible after the death will make the rest of the planning process go smoothly.

The checklist should come before you set the funeral budget. Get together with other immediate family members and ask for input. Funerals have a way of bringing even the most disconnected families together and you should take care to not leave anyone out.

Make an extra effort to include people who’ve committed to helping you pay for the funeral expenses. A funeral checklist should include the following details:

  • Funeral Venue
  • Size
  • Viewing
  • Funeral Officiant
  • Reception

These are the basics, but you and your family should feel free to modify the checklist to serve your unique needs.

Put Together the Funeral Budget

What a relief if your loved one put money aside for their funeral expenses! Sometimes that isn’t possible, and you’ll end up covering the costs. If that’s the case with your situation, it’s up to you and your family to determine how much you can spend.

Planning a funeral and doing it with a budget in mind, doesn’t have to divide the family.

Emotions usually run high when a family faces the death of a person they love. Each person deals with the loss in their own way. Sometimes that includes going overboard with extravagant funeral details.

Putting together a budget and sticking with it can help make the entire funeral planning process easier for everyone.

The Money Talk

In 2019, the average funeral cost is between $7,000 and $9,000. Buying the casket is often your highest expense. If you’ve decided on cremation, you may spend anywhere from $2000-$4000.

Paying for a funeral is difficult enough if you’re on your own and don’t have the money. If you have siblings or other family members who want to have a say in things, it’s even harder.

While you certainly can’t force anyone to contribute, you should present the budget and the funeral checklist so that everyone who needs to be involved gains an understanding of how much money you’ll need.

It’s easiest if each person can pay an equal amount towards the costs. Maybe you have family members who can’t afford to pay as much as the others. Whatever you do, don’t make them feel uncomfortable—encourage them to contribute what they can (if anything) financially.

You’ll have plenty of tasks you can divide up among the group. Allow people to share in that aspect of the funeral so that they feel like they’re contributing something even if it’s not money.

Is There a Life Insurance Policy?

Another blessing many people forget about when a loved one dies suddenly is a life insurance policy.

It’s great if you’re the beneficiary of a policy because it’s possible you can use the money for funeral expenses. Contact the insurance company for instructions about filing a claim. Keep in mind that you may need to cover the funeral initially while waiting for the claim processing.

Don’t rule out seeking help with funeral expenses from a church or other community group where your loved one had ties. Also, if they were a veteran, check with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for information on filing a claim.

Taking Care of the Body

No one wants to think about transporting a loved one’s body, but it’s a necessary part of the planning process.

Nursing homes and hospitals take care of moving the body to a funeral home. If the person dies at home or away from a healthcare facility, a coroner typically comes and officially pronounces the death.

Depending on your location, your state may require an autopsy. You’ll pay to transport the body to a morgue for the autopsy, and then to the funeral home.

Another part of taking care of your loved one’s remains deals with paperwork such as the Death Registration, Death Certificate, Burial Permit. Usually, you can get information on these forms from the Department of Health, also called the Department of Statistics in some counties.

Planning the Funeral Service

Now you can plan the funeral or memorial service for your loved one.

The traditional funeral service consists of 3 parts:

  • Visitation
  • Service
  • Burial

If you decide on a traditional funeral, you can hold the visitation and service at a funeral home. You can also hold the service at a place of worship. If you prefer a unique funeral service, consider any of the following locations:

  • A hotel
  • A boat
  • At home

People also hold funeral services in parks or natural areas. If your loved one enjoyed the ocean, consider a seaside service.

A viewing isn’t necessary, but do plan a service or memorial where people can come and say goodbye.

Now You Know How to Make Funeral Arrangements

Even though it’s not something any of us want to dwell on, it’s helpful to have a plan for the day a loved one dies.

Making a funeral checklist, putting together a budget, taking care of the business side of death, and finally planning the service is all part of knowing how to make funeral arrangements.

After reading this, hopefully, you feel more prepared for that day when it comes.

If you found this post helpful, continue reading through our archives. You’ll find articles on everything family. Thanks for reading!

 

Dear Holly: You Were Elsa for Halloween 2019… Of Course!

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

There was never a doubt in my mind that you wouldn’t be Elsa for Halloween this year.

Granted, you already had the dress anyway!

And this year, it was so cold that it felt like it might snow…

So as we walked up to neighbors’ home to trick-or-treat, Mommy would say, “Elsa brought the cold with her this year!”

Plus, we are now just a few weeks away from Frozen II coming to the theaters.

I’m pretty sure you’re going to remember all this Elsa stuff years from now.

Everything really is about Elsa these days!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Today, You Turned 3 Year and a Half Years Old

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

This week, I turned 38 and a half. I’m now just a year and a half away from turning 40.

And since our birthdays are just 4 days part, that means that now, today, you are officially 3 and half years old!

I just love you at this age.

I love how you sing all the time.

And talk all the time.

And how you love to make up games to play by yourself, even if no one else is watching.

As I look at this picture of you, I can’t help but think what a beautiful girl you are.

I can easily imagine how you will look as you get older.

I love you so much!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Old Abandoned House and Farm, Years Before It Became the Next Nice Neighborhood

8 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Part of the glory of owning a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler is that we get to explore roads most people wouldn’t be able to in their cars. Sunday after church, we drove down the barely visible path to take a look at some land that is being advertised for sale.

I had been noticing that wooded hill for the nearly 5 years we’ve lived at our house. And finally, now I know what’s out on that land that will ultimately likely be developed to become several more cookie-cutter neighborhoods.

We discovered an old abandoned farm and farmhouse; less than a half mile from the main road.

Obviously, we didn’t step foot inside the buildings: They are all on the verge of collapsing after the next gentle breeze.

But using the zoom on my camera, I was able to take a look at a magazine from 1977, as well as receipt from 1982.

In other words, the most recent proof of life at that place was a year after I was born- and I’m only a year and a half away from turning 40.

One of the strangest discoveries was what appeared to be what was left of an outhouse. It was just a small hole leading to a 10 feet deep put filled will some rainwater.

When you’re a teenager, you’ll be able to tell your friends what you saw that day, years before it all became it all was plowed over and became the next nice neighborhood.

Love,

Daddy

 

We Saw Jason Isbell Perform at The Ryman in Nashville on October 22nd, 2019

Despite moving to the Nashville area over 14 years ago, I had never been to see a show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

Fortunately, my wife was able to score some free tickets to not just any show, but Jason Isbell!

I first became familiar with his music back a few years ago when I was heavy into reviewing cars here on my website. Whatever the vehicle they gave me to drive for a week, it always came with SiriusXM.

About half the time, I would keep it on an Alternative Rock station, for myself; and for the other half, I would have it on a Country station, for my wife.

Jason Isbell consistently appeared on both types of stations.

The first song I ever heard of his was Alabama Pines. It naturally caught my attention, as I quickly learned he and I are from the same home state and are about the same age.

Jason Isbell is one of the few modern musicians that my wife and I can agree on 100%. My wife describes him as Americana. I describe him as what good Country Music should sound like.

No obligatory mentions of pick-up trucks and girls wearing their boyfriends’ t-shirts.

Instead, he sings about life and death that make you feel like you’re both alive and dying at the same time.

My wife and I couldn’t have enjoyed the show anymore than we did.

I am convinced that our going to see Jason Isbell perform at the Ryman will be a milestone memory of our shared lives together.