Monday, March 31, 2014

A Dying Wordsmith’s Last Words.

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Jim Hayes, 88, has been an editor, professor and writing coach who instilled in his students an insistence on accuracy and an appreciation for storytelling. Now they are using their skills to write about him.

Jim led an active electronic life, so the sudden cyber silence was worrying. No emails. No posts on Facebook. No tweeting. No updates on LinkedIn. When word finally surfaced, it wasn't from him.

Jim Hayes for whom words never failed.

"If you have noticed Jim's absence from Facebook, there is a reason. He has been doing poorly for a week or so ... and yesterday they detected a mass in his brain. Having elected to have no extraordinary medical measures, he is at home in Los Osos and we are waiting for hospice to come."

The Facebook posting by Dayle Hayes about her 88-year-old father, Jim, is a perfect example of how the Internet has changed the American way of death. Online death announcements and Facebook memorial sites have become routine.

Hayes inspires an interactive memorial online.

The announcement about Hayes spurred an interactive memorial for an extraordinary man in his final months. It has music, videos and testimonials that are remarkable, not just for what they say, but for they are expressed.

Social media is best known for unfiltered communication of all types. Hayes' electronic tribute was as grammatical as it was heartfelt. Words are spelled correctly. Facts are checked. Sentences and thoughts are cogent and complete.

In life, Hayes was an editor, a professor and a coach who nurtured thousands of writers. Through the years, these men and women have worked for media outlets as varied as the New York Times, National Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times.

In death, which was approaching nearer every day, Hayes brought hundreds of people together online to do what mourners everywhere do —Comfort one another in the face of loss. Celebrate a life well lived. Reconnect. While he was till alive.

Hayes taught until the very end.

Hayes was a teacher first and foremost, so the conversation unfolding on his Facebook pages is also about the lessons that changed his grateful students' lives: How to write. How to think. How to tell a good story. And how to be a human being, even while writing about horrific events under the pressure of deadline.

As one former student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo put it: "During one of your classes … while we were reviewing coverage of some current disaster, you had us pass around a list of the victims and read off the names of the dead. The lesson — to think and feel beyond the body count — stuck with me from there forward."

Every day, new posts came in and family members read them aloud.

"Mr. Hayes told me to check your facts," one former student wrote. "Always. Because some people really do spell their name 'Joens.' If you can't get that right, why should anybody trust you to get the school board budget right or what the police say the guy did or what the farmer really did say about his crops?"

Hayes’ health started to decline a year ago.

About a year ago, Hayes came down with norovirus, a serious gastrointestinal ailment. When his temperature rose sharply, his son Jason, who lives with his parents, raced him to the emergency room. More serious problems were soon detected.

"CT scan found nodules on my lungs, but I rebelled at a biopsy," Hayes explained in a Facebook exchange three months later. "Too risky for a weak 87-year-old, and besides, if they found malignancy, I would have rejected surgery, chemo and radiation.

"Aggressive treatment is for the young," Hayes continued. "I've had a long, joyful ride and hope to exit smiling. Don't expect to read my obit any time soon; I have much to do."

Hayes leaves a legacy of writers behind.
But early this year, Hayes fell down and became disoriented. It was discovered that the nodules had grown and spread to Hayes' frontal lobe.

And now the family waits, making him comfortable, sharing the latest thank-yous that pour in.

Bodhi, one of Hayes' cats, keeps guard outside his bedroom window. The Santa Lucia Mountains are obscured by haze. The room is eerily quiet, except for Hayes' raspy, difficult breathing. The end is near.

Jim talked about the best writers he has known, colleagues, friends, the men and women he mentored. He discussed the elements of a good story. He is quiet now.

"If it makes you cry once," he said, "it's good. If it makes you cry twice, it's great."

We’re going to cry twice, Jim. 
Thanks for the lessons.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wedding dresses turned into 'angel gowns' for babies who returned to heaven too soon.


There's a group of caring ladies in Fort Worth,TX who are turning wedding dresses into tiny sacred garments for babies who never leave the hospital. They are called 'angel gowns'.

From wedding dresses to angel gowns.

Lisa Grubbs, of Fort Worth,Texas is collecting wedding gowns, but not for brides. They're for babies who are being returned to heaven. Babies who never leave intensive care. She and a group of volunteers make tiny garments for tiny angels.

Each donated dress is being transformed into angel gowns for babies who never make it home from the hospital.

"There's something hopeful about that start of life, about a wedding, and to me, it's that full circle,” said Grubbs, founder of NICU Helping Hands. “This child who is so loved by its parents, being wrapped in love by a bride.”

Lisa Grubbs is the wife of a specialist for premature babies. She and her husband believe the passing of a child is a sacred event that should be honored. It’s one reason she started NICU Helping Hands, a Fort Worth organization created to support parents both educationally and emotionally.

A sacred burial dress.

One of their missions is to insure parents who lose babies in the hospital have something special and sacred to bury them in. Something special and angelic.

Grubbs has gathered a small team of volunteer seamstresses to transform bridal gowns into unique and beautiful baby garemnts. A single wedding dress can make a dozen or more of the tiny angel gowns. Many look like satin or silk christening gowns or doll clothes.

“Often, we would just wrap little babies just in tiny little hospital blankets or washrags or towels, and we didn't really have much to offer those families,” said Amy Vickers, a former NICU nurse who saw a need and volunteered to sew. “It doesn't take the hurt away from them. But it just lets them know that we feel like their baby's life means something."

Most of the volunteers who sew work alone, in their own homes, easing their own grief as they help other families.

By helping others, they help themselves.

LaJean Sturman sews for a son she lost shortly after birth, 30 years ago.

"It would have just meant the world, because I would have felt like I was sending him in something special, instead of something ill-fitting," LaJean said.

Lisa Grubbs said women who donate their gowns often do so for personal reasons. One such donation came from a woman who had recently lost her own infant. It was a “pay it forward” moment.

The angel gowns are donated to hospital NICU units. The need is far greater than it should be.

Volunteers say each angel gown is stitched with heart, and hope that the symbolic love of the wedding dresses are carried from the beginning of a new life, to another's end.

And so in donating their precious wedding dresses, these women are completing the circle of life.  
What a beautiful gift. 

If anyone feels inspired to donate their wedding dress, please email me for more information. We have a new group forming to make even more angel gowns in the Northeast.

Nancy Burban 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mourning in the Victorian Age.

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Death was a commonplace occurrence in the Victorian Age. Three of every twenty babies died before their first birthday, and those who survived infancy had a life expectancy of only forty-two years. No time period planned for, feared and even celebrated death more than the Victorian age.

Queen Victoria turned mourning into an art form.

The idea of deep mourning was introduced by Queen Victoria upon the death of her husband, King Albert, who died of typhoid in 1861. At that time and for forty years after (until the time of her death), the Queen mourned the loss of her beloved husband. She directed her court to dress in mourning with her for the first three years post-mortem.

Fearing the Queen's extreme actions, the Victorians elected to mimic her moral values. After her death, the world came out of mourning and began to change fashion, which introduced the Edwardian Period.

Mourning was also very expensive for all Victorians.

Mourning had to be fashionable. Many times after a period of mourning, the normal wardrobe would be out of fashion and all new clothing had to be purchased. If more than one death happened in a short period of time, (and it often did) the mourning clothing would have to be worn for a long period of time. 

If they became too soiled or worn, the mourning clothing would have to be completely replaced, which was a very large expense. There were many merchants who vied for the mourning clothes business and offered advice and etiquette of how the clothes should be worn.

When a person died, the mourning process began immediately.

Curtains were immediately drawn, clocks were stopped at the time of death and mirrors were covered because of the superstition that the spirit of the deceased could become trapped in the reflective glass.

Mourning Periods were strictly regulated and divided into two time frames: deep mourning and half mourning. A widow was expected to mourn her husband for at least two years during which time she was expected to wear black at all times with her only social time being at church. 

Parents who lost a child were in deep mourning for nine months and half mourning for three months. Children who lost their parents mourned for the same amount of time. The death of a sibling required three months of deep mourning and three months of half mourning. In-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives all had mourning periods that ranged from six weeks to six months.

It would not be unusual for a person to be in mourning sometimes for the better part of a year.

Mourning attire was also very strict.

Due to the strict adherence to mourning attire, it was quite easy to recognize not only who was in mourning but also for how long. Women had very specific clothing that was mandated.

For deepest mourning clothes were always black, symbolic of spiritual darkness. Dresses for deepest mourning were usually made of non-reflective paramatta silk or the cheaper bombazine. Dresses were trimmed with crape, a hard, scratchy silk with a peculiar crimped appearance produced by heat. Crape is associated with mourning because it doesn’t combine well with any other clothing – you can’t wear velvet or satin or lace or embroidery with it. 

After a specified period the crape could be removed – this was called "slighting the mourning." The color of cloth lightened as mourning went on, to grey, mauve, and white – called half-mourning.

On her head she would wear a crape bonnet with a long crape veil and a widow’s cap also of white crape with black kid gloves on her hands. All kinds of black fur and seal-skin were also worn during this time.

After six months, the crape material was removed and after three months the widow’s cap was removed. Now the widow could wear a dress made of silk garbardine, plain black grosgrain or crape trimmed cashmere with jet trimmings. She could also exchange the heavy crape veil for a lighter one.

The women's clothing was dangerous and often caused blindness.

As for the use of crape in mourning veils, medical personnel were very much opposed to its' usage. Most doctors felt that when worn over the face for an extended period of time, the black dye from the crape material was dangerous and could cause serious health problems. 

One doctor stated “it sheds its pernicious dye into the sensitive nostrils, producing catarrhal disease as well as blindness and cataract of the eye. It is a thousand pities that fashion dictates the crape veil, but so it is. It is the very banner of woe, and no one has the courage to go without it. We can only suggest to mourners wearing it that they should pin a small veil of black tulle over the eyes and nose, and throw back the heavy crape as often as possible, for health’s sake.”

And while women were slaves to their mourning attire, men however, had it easy. They simply wore their usual dark suits with black gloves and black cravats, season after season, death after death.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

The Environmental Impact of Funerals Illustrated (Infographic)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

'Homeland' actor James Rebhorn writes his own final tribute.

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James Rebhorn was a popular actor but most did not know that he was also a writer. In fact he wrote his own obituary and it was touching.

The"Homeland" and "White Collar" actor, who died Friday at age 65 after a long battle with melanoma, took time out before his death to write his own obituary.

Philadelphia native Rebhorn, a well-respected character actor with numerous roles in movies and TV shows, started his obituary by paying tribute to his mother Ardelle, who "loved him very much and supported all his dreams," and his father, who taught the actor that "there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done."

The actor went on to praise his wife Rebecca and his two daughters, who "anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor."

Rebhorn added that he hoped his daughters would "grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it."

The actor completed his obituary by praising the actors' unions who represented him, his teachers and his agents.

"He was a lucky man in every way," the obituary concluded.

Here is Jim's obituary:

His Life, According to Jim

James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.

He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.

He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.

His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.

His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.

Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.

Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. 

He was a lucky man in every way.

–Jim Rebhorn, March 2014

We think he was a lucky man too... R.I.P. Jim.

 Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Final Chapter of a 45-year Romantic Adventure Comes to a Close.

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Dad didn't know that she had passed, and she didn't know that he had passed. I don't understand it, but it's beautiful.' Said Troy Shirley, one of the couple's three sons. "He never knew she left and she never knew he was gone, but both left within 10 minutes of each other, you have to look at it in a romantic way, they did everything together."

A Florida couple who spent 45 years together died within minutes of each other.

A South Florida couple who spent all of their time together exploring and fighting to preserve the Everglades died just 10 minutes apart this weekend, bringing a sweet end to their 45-year love affair. In more than four decades of married life, Tom Shirley, a former state game warden, explored the Everglades — and more distant locales — with his wife Naomi at his side.

Saturday, the couple embarked on their final adventure together. They died separately at the same hospital, 10 minutes apart, their passing unknown to each other.

Their romance started at a local drug store.

The couple met 45 years ago when Naomi was working at a drug store. It was love at first sight.

Tom Shirley, a retired game warden for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was 83. Born in Texas, Tom moved to Florida when he was 3. Naomi Shirley, a retired nurse, was 75.

Naomi Shirley of Southwest Ranches, Fla., was on her way to visit her husband, Tom, in the hospital when she suffered a heart attack.

According to the couple's children, Tom Shirley, hospitalized with heart problems earlier Saturday, died shortly before his wife. Neither knew of the other's passing.

They both loved the everglades.

The Glades were where the couple like to spend their free time too, and Tom Shirley even designed an air boat of his own to ride on the marsh.

'My mother loved fishing and the outdoors life and he was a game warden and that's what attracted them to each other. They both liked the same things,' son Tom Shirley said.

While daughter Melanie Davis says it's been hard to process the death of both parents at the same time, she's grateful neither had to live without the other. 'I have to be thankful because she's not sitting somewhere sobbing and all upset dad's not here because they were each other's whole life,' Davis said.

"He fell in love with the Everglades," Troy Shirley said. He wrote a book, “Everglades Patrol," about his experiences preserving wildlife.

"He lived to protect the Everglades," another son, Tommy Shirley, said. "He kind of molded us into what he did and we passed that on to our kids as well. My mother loved fishing and the outdoors life and he was a game warden and that’s what attracted them to each other, they both liked the same things."

"It must have been such a surprise to him to get to the other side and see her waiting for him," The family is arranging an FWC honor guard to attend the couple's memorial service. "

The couple is survived by four children and eight grandchildren.

Stories of elderly couples dying in close succession are not so unusual.

· In 2012, a Pennsylvania couple together for 65 years died just 88 minutes apart.

· The same year, a Florida couple who had been together for over six decades died within minutes of each other.

· And just last month, an upstate New York couple — Floreen Hale, 82, and Ed Hale, 83 — died 36 hours apart. The pair, who had been in separate hospitals, were reunited so they could hold hands in their final hours.

It was as if Plato's lost twin myth was true. The philosopher told of how we are born as only half of our true selves and wander the earth until we find our twin - our lost other half or soul mate.

Some people believe that couples who spend so much of their lives together become telepathic. They can connect to each other without words. Is that what happened to these couples who lived for each other – and died with each other? 

What a beautiful way to leave this earth.

Nancy Burban 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Students’ Baby Casket Project Builds Confidence and Changes Lives.

Thomas Hook, 14, works diligently to help build infant caskets at Bonner Springs High School in Kansas City, Kansas.

When wood shop teacher Kris Munsch asked his high school students to help the indigent by building infant caskets, he had no idea that he was changing the student’s lives as well.

By helping indigent families, they found a sense of purpose.

As the lining of the first infant casket was stapled into place and a tiny pillow and blanket was laid out, its builders at Bonner Springs High School in Kansas City, Kansas paused to look over their work with pride and a sense of purpose.

“We all just kind of stepped back and had to take in a deep breath after seeing it all come together,” said BSHS woodshop teacher Kris Munsch.

The intensity of the students’ project became a reality at that point as the final resting place for a future infant was complete.

From green caskets to helping babies.

The idea for the “burial cradles,” as the students call them, came from an e-mail Munsch received inquiring about his students’ ability to build adult-sized, simple pine caskets to be used in the growing trend of “green” funerals.

Because, Munsch said, no one in the area was making such caskets, he looked at the opportunity as a money-making business to benefit his classes’ future projects.

Then came another e-mail, and suddenly the project took a turn.

Munsch said he learned about families in the area who weren’t able to afford caskets for their infant children who died. When he discussed this with a few students they decided to build infant-sized caskets that could be donated to those in need.

It was a daunting task but so worthwhile.

“At first (some of the students) were a little scared,” Munsch said. “They said, ‘If the big one is that sad to make, I can’t imagine what the little ones will be like.’”

But Munsch said that fear subsided quickly, and as he asked for volunteers to come in during the summer to work on the project, the response was overwhelming.

Ethan Hook, 16, helped Munsch make the first prototype of the infant casket. He said he and Munsch worked on several projects throughout the years and had an understanding.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Hook said of the idea to make infant caskets. “It was something Munsch would do.”

Hook said the project was “a pretty big deal” to all the students involved. He said other people may be surprised by the project, but he and his fellow students knew they were doing something truly special.

“This is not like anything else,” Hook said of the various wood projects he’s made in Munsch’s classes. “We’re giving them away to people who need them. It’s not something we’d get to do every day.”

The community comes together to complete 22 tiny caskets.

So far, the volunteer students have made 22 caskets, which will now be stored at the school and given away as Munsch receives notification of a family in need. Community members throughout Bonner Springs who have gotten heard of the project have also offered their help.

A community sewing group made the liners for each casket, and another sewing group made the pillows and blankets. Other community members, as well as the students making the caskets, have been recruited to write condolence cards that will be placed in each casket, so the families who receive them will know the heart put in to the work by its builders.

But before the first piece of wood was ever cut, Munsch said he thought it was important to sit the students down and attempt to explain the depth of the project.

“I said, ‘We’re getting ready to start something that probably no other high school students in the country have ever done,’” Munsch said. “It’s a way to teach teenagers about grieving, about mortality, about community service.”

A woodworking teacher heals his own grief through the baby casket project.

Munsch, whose son died from a car accident in 2005, said not only has the project been healing for him, but teaching his students about the grieving process has been an important aspect.

He said often when people hear of someone’s tragedy, they run the other way, not knowing what to say to the person. But, Munsch said, this project shows his students actions truly speak louder than words.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are,” Munsch said. “You can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Yes, you can and we thank all of the wonderful students and teachers for helping these deserving families bury their babies.
Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sailor from famous World War II photo dies.

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Everybody knew his face, but nobody knew his name.

The photograph snapped in Times Square the day the Japanese surrendered in World War II would quickly become one of the most famous pictures in American history: A sailor celebrating the war’s end by stealing an exuberant kiss from a pretty woman, bending over with one arm wrapped around her waist and another hooked behind her neck.

The romantic gesture.

“Yeah, that was my girlfriend,” Glenn McDuffie later joked to the guys at Frency’s Barber Shop.

“She was standing out there in the middle of the street, she heard me, I turned around and did like this,” he recalled, bending over at the waist in a 2011 interview. “And I went over there and kissed her.”

Actually, he had never met the woman before the day he stepped out of a subway entrance and heard the war was over. And the photographer didn’t even bother asking his name. And so this iconic sailor in the photo became anonymous.

No one knew his name, buy he changed that.

So for more than six decades, McDuffie’s name was lost to history. And when he died in Dallas on March 9, 2014 the old sailor might have passed into obscurity if he hadn't obstinately decided to prove his place for posterity by contacting a police sketch artist.

“I had him come to my house and I had him kissing a pillow,” said Lois Gibson, showing off photographs hanging in her office at Houston police headquarters. “I had him in the same position as the kissing sailor. And I took almost a hundred pictures.”

Gibson, renowned for drawing strikingly precise likenesses of faces using nothing more than clues provided by traumatized witnesses or decomposed corpses, didn't believe she could prove McDuffie’s claim.

“I thought it was impossible,” she recalled. “I would've been thrilled to have the guy live here that was the guy in that famous kissing picture. So when I laid him on top of the other one and I saw it lined up, I started crying.”

After comparing the original photograph with her staged recreation, she had no doubt the retired sailor living in Houston was telling the truth.

“Every strand of muscle, every bone, the ears – the most complicated thing on your head – the ear was exact,” she said. “Everything. It’s him. I’m positive.”

McDuffie became famous after 60 years of obscurity.

After the news broke, McDuffie became famous all over again as the story spread around the world. Suddenly, he was invited to fly first class to naval balls. Sports teams gave him free seats in fancy suites, projecting his picture on stadium screens for cheering crowds.

And he ended up smooching with a lot of women.

“Everywhere he went, women would want to kiss him on the cheek and get their picture taken,” Gibson remembered. “And he was making $200 an hour signing the picture for $10 a picture. He was rolling in money and kissing women.”

With his place in history secured, McDuffie died at 86. 

But that picture of a young sailor stealing a kiss in Times Square will live forever.

Rest in peace dear sailor. You'll always be remembered for that kiss.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Friday, March 14, 2014

7-Year-Old Boy Raises More Than $750K To Fight His Best Friend's Disease.

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Dylan and Jonah are best friends since preschool.
Dylan Siegel, 6, and Jonah Pournazarian, 7, are best-buds. The two are inseparable, however Jonah suffers from a one-in-a-million liver disease called glycogen storage disease type 1B – and there is no cure.

Dylan takes “best friend” to a whole new level.

Dylan Siegel, 7, would do anything for a friend and he’s gone way beyond friendship for his best friend, 8-year-old Jonah Pournazarian. 

The pair has been inseparable ever since they met in preschool, when Dylan learned that Jonah faces a rare battle their other classmates didn't -- glycogen storage disease, or GSD, according to LEX 18. The condition causes Jonah's blood sugar to drop to potentially fatal levels, forcing his parents to follow an inflexible, round-the-clock schedule of feeding Jonah through a stomach tube in order to keep his metabolism stable

Jonah has to eat through a tube every 1 to 3 hours during the day to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. “What could be a common cold … will land Jonah in the hospital for five to six days,” his father said. “It happened last month.”

Dylan writes a book to raise money for research.

So, back in 2013, when he was 6 years old, Dylan wrote a book to help his friend and others struggling with the disease. But, it's not your typical page-turner and every penny from sales of "Chocolate Bar" goes to research. The book consists of 16 pages and is handwritten and illustrated by Dylan. To him “Chocolate Bar” means “cool” or “awesome”. The book starts out “Disneyland is so chocolate bar” and the ending is the best! Dylan says, “I like to help my friends. That is the biggest chocolate bar.”

The book debuted at a special “good deeds” event at the boys’ school. Over 200 books and 150 custom wrapped chocolate bars sold out quickly, raising $6,000 in just a few hours. . "Chocolate Bar" has given those suffering from GSD renewed hope for a better tomorrow.

Sales of the book and chocolate bars donated by Whole Foods reached $30,000 and tripled in two days. The donations currently totaling $90,000 will go to a research program at the University Of Florida School Of Medicine in Gainesville, Fla.

The money will further research taking place by Dr. David Weinstein, who is working with 200 families. "It is now reality. It's not just a dream that these children can be cured”. 

Dylan wrote a book to raise monies for his best friend.

Dylan’s goal is a million dollars!

Now the goal, set by young Dylan, is $1,000,000 toward a cure.

Jonah's parents set up a fund for their son six years ago which has raised $400,000, mostly through donations from friends and family.

But the couple says that Chocolate Bar is set to surpass that number. For his part, Jonah has helped the cause by signing copies of the book.

Jonah is so “chocolate bar”!

Jonah 'gets the importance of finding a cure as much as a 7-year-old can,' says Mr. Pournazarian. 'He doesn't want his [feeding] tube forever.'

"It's an amazing thing the fact that he didn't just have the idea, he followed through and he actually did it," Debra Siegel, Dylan's mom, said. "And he was so persistent trying to get us to publish the book and sell the book. And he was really, really motivated."

Helping out others is ‘so chocolate bar’, so be sure help Dylan reach his goal and donate. You can find out more about this book here:

A sweet book that's changing the world. Now, that’s so “chocolate bar”!

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Procession of 100 FedEx Trucks for a Fellow Employee. It’s Tears All The Way.

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These heart-warming pictures were shared by a FedEx delivery driver about his dear friend, Mickey. They show how hundreds of FedEx Express drivers commemorated a fallen fellow employee and friend. They rounded up about 100 trucks to surprise his family by escorting his funeral procession to the cemetery.

The drivers rounded up 100 trucks in Pittsburgh for the start of their journey.

Here they are at their destination, to surprise and escort Mickey’s family to the cemetery. Mickey’s family was happily surprised to see them all there to give their support. As you can imagine, everyone was in tears at this point

What a lovely gesture by them all. I can imagine how proud the family might feel in seeing the respect being paid to their loved one by so many co-workers.

So if you live in Pittsburgh and your package was a bit late last week, then this is probably why. I’d say it’s a worthy reason, wouldn't you?

Thanks for being an outstanding person and making an impact on so many lives. You will never be forgotten. "Fedex, there is nothing like it!"

From his friends:

"Mickey was a ramp agent at Fedex Express. He was basically a manager, and he was on top of his game all the time. God, he had to be working there forever! He never called off, took a vacation, or worked less than 8 hours a day. Mickey loved everyone, and did so many generous things for people. He had no selflessness what so ever." 

"He was so special to me because he was the first person I met at Fedex. He trained me and made me always be happy to be at work. He is a role model to me, and a lot of other people. He is one of those people that never take credit for what tasks he achieved. No one disliked him and he was the hardest worker I knew. Mickey used to give me 5 bucks for the vending machine. Why, I don't know. He just did it all the time."

What a heartwarming tribute to Mickey who devoted his career to FedEx.

Relax, Mickey, FedEx is watching over you.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Bernabel Archuleta Sr. - Funeral Fund

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Bernabel Archuleta Sr. Funeral Fund Campaign

Bernie departed this world on March 6, 2014 from cardiac and pulmonary arrest. He suffered several years from congestive heart failure. He is survived by his sweetheart Marcella, his ex-wife Gloria and his four children Ava, Bernie, William and Christian. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and his brother George W. Archuleta.

It is difficult to put into words the depth of our loss of Bernie. He had many friends and loved ones who cared deeply about him. His personality was lighthearted and full of humor and smiles. He didn't let things get him down and he always looked to God for solutions and peace in his life. He was a good listener and resisted the urge to judge others. His heart was about love and forgiveness and he passed these traits to his children. He had the ability to make friends easily, was comfortable talking to strangers and making them laugh. He loved his children and grandchildren immensely as well as his extended family and friends at the senior center.

In leiu of flowers the family created this page for donations. Bernie did not have life insurance and the family will need assistance with settling his affairs after his death. 

Funeral fund

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Free Online Tool Provides Vital Info. to Funeral Home Immediately.

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It is no easy task to effectively plan and prepare for a funeral, especially if you are in a heightened emotional state following bereavement.

Providing the vital statistics for a death certificate while at the funeral home can be overwhelming for some families. Wouldn't it be convenient for all if the funeral home already had all the death certificate info. before your family shows up for final arrangements?

Families are overwhelmed by the tasks involved.

If the death was unexpected, then you are thrust into the arduous task of planning the funeral with very little time. As soon as you are aware a death is imminent, or have just been notified of a death, the first thing you need to do is say your goodbyes to your loved one and arrange to have the deceased transferred to a funeral home.

Choosing a funeral home before a death saves precious time.

If you have already decided upon which funeral home you are going to use, you will be saving a lot of time and will not have to make important financial and logistical decisions at the worst time in your life. Choose a funeral home before a death occurs so you can make educated choices.

The arrangement conference.

After the funeral director takes your loved one into their care, you will have to visit soon after to make the final arrangements for funeral and burial plans.

In this digital age, wouldn’t it be convenient if you could just fill out a form with all the information that the funeral home would need for the death certificate from the comfort of your home? This would allow you some time to compose yourself before you meet with the funeral director to plan your loved one’s funeral.

For times when it’s just not possible for your family to travel to the funeral home right away this can be a convenient way to communicate wherever you happen to be at the time of death.

There is a free form online that can save you time.

Now there’s a free online tool that you can download, fill in the information that the funeral home will need and concentrate on other tasks that need to be completed before the funeral.

Simply click on the link below, complete the form and email the information directly to the funeral home. The funeral director will instantly get an email with all the information you provided. It's fast and simple and FREE.

Funeral homes can email this link to families and save time.

Funeral homes can also utilize the link by supplying it to their families. This assistance to the family is very helpful. It's a time saver and we can all use the extra time to help plan the funeral. The arrangement conference can be spent planning, not collecting vital data. Funeral Directors can better utilize their time providing counseling and advice.

The new online tool provides help regarding the collection of the information needed for a death certificate; they deliberately left out a space for the social security number because that information should never be shared electronically.

Thank you to Vermont Funeral Director Jeff Staab for creating this time-saving tool for grieving families.

Click the link provided below to view this free simple online death certificate tool:

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Thursday, March 6, 2014

98-Year-Old Woman Drives Kindness in her Retirement Home.

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Evelyn is 98 yrs. old and drives her friends who can no longer do so.

Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.

Evelyn, who resides in a retirement home is 98 years old and takes "love thy neighbor" to a whole new level of kindness.

When the retirement community where the nonagenarian lives discontinued its' bus service, her neighbor Joyce was unable to go to the grocery store. This affected Evelyn as much as it did Joyce. Knowing that Joyce might have to switch facilities, Evelyn took matters into her own hands.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Upon hearing that services were being cut at the retirement home, Evelyn didn’t complain or petition the facility to restore transportation services. She did none of that. What she did shocked everyone. 

At age 98, Evelyn went to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and renewed her driver's license so she could drive Joyce to the supermarket. She decided to help her neighbors, starting with Joyce.

Sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.

Evelyn didn’t think twice about helping her neighbors in the assisted living facility.

"I'm on the earth, I'm here. If I can contribute, I should. Shouldn't we all? And not just think of ourselves?" Evelyn said

Evelyn doesn't seek recognition for helping Joyce or her other “neighbors”.

"I mean, I don't do this so you think I'm great," she said. "I don't even think of that." She chooses that her last name and location remain anonymous.

I think the secret to Evelyn’s longevity is her innate kindness. She doesn’t have an angry bone in her body. She emanates love. And, her neighbors love her in return.

Evelyn and Joyce shopping for dinner.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
― Anne Frank, The diary of Anne Frank

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mae Keane, Believed To Be Last Of Waterbury's Radium Girls Dies at 107.

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Mae Keane at her Middlebury, CT home, shortly before her death at age 107.
Mae Keane did not care much for the job she had during the summer of 1924, painting radioactive radium onto watch dials to make them glow in the dark. Little did she know that poor job performance would save her life.

Keane, 107, died Saturday at her home in Middlebury, CT. Keane's family believes she was the last of the so-called radium girls from Waterbury, CT

Mae Keane’s life was saved by not doing her job well.

Keane isn't quite sure what led her to work at the clock factory. The pay was $18 a week for a 40-hour work week, and 8 cents a dial. That was a good salary for a woman back then but Mae disliked the work more than she liked the paycheck.

As it turned out, Keane, then 18, was not as fast as her supervisor wanted her to be. "I made 62 cents one day," Keane said 10 years ago. "That's when my boss came to me and said I better find another job."

The foreman probably saved Keane's life. She worked in the dial painting room for eight to nine weeks, then transferred to another job at the company

Keane and her co-workers at Waterbury Clock Co., all young women, were told they could paint faster if they dipped their brushes into the radium-laden paint and then sharpened the bristles with their lips. But the paint was bitter and Keane would not "lip-point," as the practice was known.

The watch factory in Waterbury, CT

Mae was a Waterbury radium girl.

She was among the women dubbed the Radium Girls after the greenish radium paint used to make the watch dials glow in the dark. It later caused significant health problems for many.

Though Keane worked at the clock factory just a couple of months, she lost her teeth, developed numerous skin ailments, eye problems and suffered through two bouts of cancer. Doctors could never pinpoint the exact cause of her ailments.

"I don't think the bosses even knew it was poison," she said. "The foreman would tell us it was very expensive, and to be careful. We had no idea. But when they did find out, they hid it" she once said.

Radium girls began to die several years after exposure.

Keane recalled learning of radium's deadly affects when her co-workers from that summer began to die in 1927. Later, a friend warned her not to have a tooth pulled because her mouth would never heal.

About 15 of the young dial painters in Waterbury died from radium poisoning during the 1920s and '30s. Scores of women died later after suffering for years from crumbling bones and rotted jaws.

"We were young. We didn't know anything about the paint," Keane said in 2004.

She eventually left Waterbury Clock — now Timex based in Middlebury — and held office jobs until her retirement. She married a Waterbury police officer, but never had children.

Keane lost all of her teeth in her 30s and suffered pain in her gums until she died. She also survived breast and colon cancer.

"I was one of the fortunate ones," Keane told an interviewer in 2004.

The green glow of radium was deadly.

We now know that radium causes cancer and damages skin and bones.

Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive material used from the 1900s to the 1940s to paint glow-in-the-dark dials on clocks, watches and aircraft navigation equipment.

Significant exposure can cause leukemia and anemia and has been linked to cancer of the bones, mouth and sinus cavities.

About 20 Waterbury Clock factory workers, mostly women hired because of their smaller fingers, died from exposure to radium in 1927.

"The girls sneaked the radium out of the factory to paint their toe nails to make them glow," Keane said.

Mae Keane’s humor and laziness helped her to reach 107.

Perhaps it is her sense of humor that has helped her live a long life. The only prescription medication she took was to control her blood pressure, though she was diagnosed with breast and colon cancer during her life.

"The doctor wanted to give me chemotherapy," Keane said. "I told him 'no.' After five weeks of radiation, she was on the mend.

In 2004, Keane and the late Josephine Lamb, another Radium Girl, were featured in a dance and video production that explored the work done by young women in clock factories. Josephine Lamb was bedridden for 50 years from the radium poisoning. She died in 1974 at the age of 79.

Keane, a Red Sox fan, laughs when asked about her secret to longevity.

"I'm lazy," Keane said, adding she never smoked, loved to walk and dance, and enjoys caramel candy, chocolate and an occasional apricot sour or Bailey's Irish Cream.

"I didn't get old until I was 98," she once said.”

That’s the key to longevity – a youthful attitude.

Keane and her co-workers at Waterbury Clock Co.,were told they could paint faster if they dipped their brushes into the radium-laden paint and then sharpened the bristles with their lips. But the paint was bitter and Keane would not "lip-point," as the practice was known. Her refusal saved her life.

Nancy Burban 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

How America’s Aging View Death.


New survey explores the individual preferences and choices that surround the universal experience of death.

Starting the conversation about the end of life is not always easy, and a large percentage of U.S. adults haven't given much thought to their choices at all, which is concerning.

Discussing death doesn't have to be morbid. It’s a good idea to talk about preferences before it's necessary. That's the idea behind "Death Over Dinner," which are meals organized in order to connect friends and strangers through conversations about life and death.

Laura Sweet, a former hospice volunteer and a "Death Over Dinner" host, says, "We want to talk in an informal way about personal experiences with death. How do people want to die? Have you shared that with anyone? What deaths have you experienced? We don't want it to be distasteful, or uncomfortable, but an uplifting atmosphere."

Here are 10 facts about American attitudes towards death.It emphasizes the importance of thinking about the end of life, and communicating with loved ones about end of life choices.

1. America's elderly population has more than tripled in size over the last century.

The share of the total U.S. population that is age 65 and older has more than tripled over the last century, from roughly 4% in 1900 to 14% in 2012. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78.7 years.

2. Over a quarter of U.S. adults haven't really thought about future medical treatment at the end of their lives.

Over 27% of adults say that they have not given very much thought or have given no thought at all to how they would like doctors and other medical professionals to handle their medical treatment at the end of their lives, even those aged 75 or older (25%).

3. The majority of U.S. adults would want to stop medical treatment if they were suffering a lot of pain with no hope for improvement.

57% of adults say that they would tell their doctors to stop treatment if they had an incurable disease with no hope of improvement and were suffering a great deal of pain.

4. About one third of Americans would fight for life no matter what.

About a third of adults (35%) say they would tell their doctors to do anything possible to keep them alive, even if the circumstances were so dire that they had a disease with no hope of improvement and were experiencing a great deal of pain.

5. A majority of adults believe in a moral right to suicide, if a person was in great pain with no hope of getting better.

62% of adults say that a person suffering a great deal of pain with no hope of improvement has a moral right to commit suicide.

6. There is a big split on the issue of the legitimacy of physician-assisted suicide.

47% of adults approve of laws to allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, while 49% disapprove.

7. Race greatly affects the answers of whether people would want to fight to stay alive in great pain and little hope of improvement.

Only 26% of white U.S. adults would ask their doctors to do everything possible to save their lives if they had a disease with no hope of improvement and were suffering a great deal of pain, in stark contrast with the 61% of black adults and 55% of Hispanic adults who would want the maximum effort expended on life-saving strategies.

8. Death has affected most people in the United States.

About half of adults (47%) say they have a friend or relative who has had a terminal illness or who has been a coma within the last five years.

9. Religion and race greatly affect people's response to the idea of a moral right to suicide in case of great pain.

Black Protestants are most inclined to reject the idea of a moral right to suicide, out of the religious and racial groups surveyed. Religiously unaffiliated adults were most likely to support a moral right to suicide.

10. Optimism for the future is harder to find in the older generation.

Only about a fifth (19%) of adults aged 75 and older expect their lives to be better in ten years compared with today, though 71% of people aged 18-49 believe that their life will improve in the future.

*Pew Research Center's report, "Americans' Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatment," explores the individual preferences and choices that surround the universal experience of death. Pew Research Center first surveyed American attitudes about death in 1990, then again in 2005. 1,994 interviews were conducted in English and Spanish from March 21 to April 8, 2013.

Nancy Burban 2014

Funeral fund