Chapter 9: The Taggart funeral home
The Taggart Funeral Home was situated on Avenue Road in the small town of Whitedeer Ontario, Canada. The parlor was a beautiful one hundred year old Victorian style home, converted into a funeral home. Inside it was mostly oak. Most of the carpentry, including the floors, stairs, railings and wainscoting were made of oak. It was very rich and opulent looking. It was the only funeral parlor in Whitedeer, and had been for sixty years.
The town of Whitedeer had a population of about seventeen thousand people. It was nestled deep in the heart of farm country. It was a sleepy little town, where nothing of any real importance ever happened.
The funeral home had been owned and operated as a family business ever since it opened in the 1920’s. It was in every sense a Mom and Pop business.
The current owner operators were the descendants of the original Taggart family that had started the business so long ago. Fletcher Taggart and his wife Kate were in their sixties now and ready to retire. Fletcher Taggart had run the family business for the past forty years. He had met Kate when she started working for Fletcher’s dad. At the time Kate was only twenty-two years old. Together they had two children, Frank and Jean.
The two children had been brought up helping in the funeral home. Eventually they both expressed a wish to continue in the business. When they had both completed a proper university education they were allowed to join the family business in a more substantive way. First they were both taught the embalming trade. Fletcher felt that this was a must know for anyone serious about running a funeral home.
Secondly they would both need skills that would help them in the running of the business. Frank went back to university to obtain an MBA (master in business administration) and Jean went back to get a degree in accounting.
Jean was a good-looking woman. She was twenty-five years old, petite and had a hairstyle in the Goth style along with several piercings and tattoos. How appropriate for someone working in a funeral home. She showed up for work every day in a normal manner, at least while Mr. and Mrs. Taggart were alive. She was a bit of an odd duck shall I say. Her friends were all in the Goth movement and dressed in that style. She had become morbidly fascinated with the dead. She would spend hours in the mortuary talking to the bodies being prepared for burial.
Frank was very popular with his friends. He was twenty-eight years old and was very thin, too thin, and very pale looking kind of ghoulish really.
They had great aspirations for the funeral home. Jean and Frank had planes to keep the place running in an efficient manner long after their parents pass on. But things were going to change to be a little more profitable.
It was Saturday afternoon. A day Frank and Jean will never forget. There was only one service that day so Fletcher and Kate had left the parlor in the capable hands of Frank and Jean. It was a good opportunity for Fletcher and Kate to venture out and take a trip to Peterborough and try their hand at the casino. They did this at least once a year. They would gamble a couple of hundred dollars and then go for an early dinner before going home.
Unfortunately it was raining and the roads were slick. A driver coming the other way crossed the median hitting the Taggart car head-on. Fletcher died on impact while Kate was airlifted to hospital in critical condition. By the time she got to hospital she had passed on.
At the funeral parlor there was a knock at the front door. The parlor was closed. There were no showings. The one service they had that day had been over for hours. Frank answered the door. It was a police officer.
“Hi Tim how are you today?” asked Frank in a friendly tone.
“I’m fine, Frank, may I come in?” the officer said in a very sullen tone.
“Well yes of course, is there something wrong?” asked Frank
“I’m afraid so, earlier this afternoon there was an accident about twenty five miles this side of Peterborough.” The officer stated.
As soon as Frank heard the word Peterborough, he thought he knew what was coming but said nothing.
“Your parents were both killed in a head on collision, I’m so sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do?” the officer stated.
Frank was speechless. He had to sit down. He held his head in his hands until the news finally sunk in. Frank had loved his parents with all his heart. Although he knew the day would come when they would both pass on he hadn’t expected anything like this to happen.
“Is Jean here Frank?” the officer asked
“No Tim, she just went to a friends for a bit.” Frank muttered.
“Is there someone I can call for you? You shouldn’t be left alone right now.” The officer said.
“No that’s ok Tim, I’ll just wait here for my sister, she’ll take it hard.” Frank said
“If it’s ok with you I’m just going to make a call, then I’ll stay here until Jean gets back? We have already taken care of the identification of your parents. The chief went to the hospital on your behalf to identify them.” Said Tim.
“Oh that’s fine, I think I need your company right now.
The two men talked while they waited for Jean. Frank insisted that his parents be brought back to their parlor. Frank would call in another undertaker to prepare the bodies for viewing.
It wasn’t long before Jean arrived home. She had seen the police car out front and the first thing she said when she walked in the door was “Frank, is everything ok”.
Frank led her into the office where he told her the news in private. She screamed and then wept uncontrollably.
“ I think we’ll be ok now Tim, thanks so much for your help.” Frank said to the officer.
“Well folks I’ll leave you two alone and again my condolences.” The officer said.
The next few days went by in a blur. Frank had called in another undertaker to prepare his parents for viewing. Other part time employees were also summoned to help out. They assured Frank and Jean that they would take care of everything for them.
It took a week after the funerals for Frank and Jean to finally start talking about the business again. They both agreed that their parents would have wanted them to continue on as normal. Frank and Jean agreed that now that the business was in their names a few changes were in order