Category Archives: Calumet Park Funeral Chapel of Hobart and Portage

Email to Jerry Davich, writer with the Post-Trib regarding this year’s Butterfly Release on July 20 at Calumet Park Cemetery…

The letter shown below was written to Jerry Davich regarding this coming week’s live butterfly release ceremony.  This is the 11th annual event and this year close to 900 people have signed up to attend.  I feel there might be something in this email for any readers of this blog so I am sharing it with you all.

Hello Jerry,
    Just shy of 900 signed up for butterfly release for Saturday.  We will see how many show with temp expected to be above 90 next week.
     Anyway, the song I wrote is attached.  In all my years in this business, God and lack of understanding why someone we love dies seems to be two of the most shared thoughts that I hear.  Either there is an eternal love and trust in God that He knows what He is doing or a turning away from God, or at lease an anger with Him, when a loved one dies.
     My first encounter with death was at 9 years old.  We lived in the country in up-state NY.  My cousin’s dog got distemper and his father told us to go dig a grave in the woods and then take the dog out and shoot it.  I guess he thought that would make us men.  We dug the grave and my cousin pointed the .22 rifle at his dog but could not shoot.  He stood there crying, rifle inches from his pet’s skull, and trembled.  I grabbed the rifle, pointed and shot the dog. We cried, filled in the grave, and never went to that part of the woods again.
     A couple years later, when I was 11, my dad died from a perforated ulcer.  Stupid reason to die but we had no money for him to go to the doctor.  He already had seven kids, and on the day of his death, the family doctor (without knowing that dad had died) called my mother to tell her she was pregnant with her eighth kid…congratulations, he is reputed to have said to her.  Irish Catholics, don’t you know!  No money, no insurance, no dad, no running water, no bathroom but a falling apart outhouse…why be mad at God?
     In high school a couple of classmates died in accidents and a friend of a friend died from suicide.  Then, on to the Army and Vietnam.  It was kill or be killed there as one fought sworn enemies with guns, and weather that nearly suffocated one from the high temps and intense humidity.  I stopped making friends there during my year and a half in country as a way to avoid the pain of loss when a friend would die in action…as a number of them did die.  Add in an uncle that was killed by a train, a mother and sister that died from cancers (both big smokers), my wife and I losing our first child in a miscarriage, the loss of her parents, a step-father passing from brain cancer all the way up to co-workers and bosses dying and you can see that I have a lot of shared grief and personal losses in my 70 years.
     Anyway, ten years ago  I met a woman who lost two daughters within months of each other (one by drugs and the second by car accident while texting).  She came to work here for awhile as a family service counselor.  I felt obligated to fire her after a year; not because she wasn’t doing a good job because she was doing a good job.  But what I observed was that being around death and dying everyday as a counselor at a cemetery seemed to prevent her from learning how to live without her 20 and 22 year old girls.
     I wrote the song as a culmination of many talks with her during that year.  She had so much trouble understanding why her girls were taken so young.  I also witnessed her intense belief in God.  She was absolute in her belief that she would see them again in heaven, and trusted God’s decision to end their lives on this plane when he did.
     So, in a way, this song was penned by me but written by these many experiences of death.  When you go to work every day and feel the pain of so many deaths, it is imperative to have a strong belief in something bigger than life.  I absolutely believe in God, and Jesus, and the whole eternity thing.  When I went though my own cancer a year and a half ago and a kidney was cut out and tossed, I surprised my family with having no fear of what might happen.  I even went so far as to talk to God and I told Him that if this is what had to be, then I trusted Him.  I remember telling Him that I would prefer no pain but if that was part of the plan, then I offered it up to Him.  Guess what?  A happy ultimate ending as the cancer is gone, but funny old God, there was pain x 100.
     I am sharing this story because I am not the best singer but sometimes it is important to know why a song is written and some of the meaning behind the words.  Dylan was not a good singer by most accounts, but he was a wordsmith like few others before or after him.  I do not claim to be the next Dylan, but my song and my interpretation of my song comes from my soul.
     Hope to see you Saturday.  Even if we do not get together, I respect you and know that you have family here.  So, this song is as much yours as it is for all the people that brave the heat to let a butterfly go free to carry their secret longings up to heaven.
     Respectfully, Dan

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Blood drive at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel on July 28, Sunday…

It is in your power to help save a life.  Call now to schedule your blood donation as shown above.  Thank you for giving something that cannot be bought…a gift of life.

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11th Annual Live Butterfly Release Ceremony coming up July 20 at Calumet Park Cemetery…

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The 11th Annual Butterfly Release Ceremony is coming up soon.  It will be held on July 20 at 11:00 a.m. at Calumet Park Cemetery on the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville (1 mile north of Route 30 on Taft).  This is an hour long event that celebrates the memory of those folks that have preceded us in death.  There will be live music, readings, and live butterflies for each person in attendance.  To be sure you get a butterfly, call before July 10 to reserve yours.  The butterflies are compliments of Calumet Park so please call now to 219-769-8803 to help us get an accurate count of the number of butterflies that must be ordered.  There were 600 butterflies released last year and we would love it to be a thousand or more this year.  Remember to bring a lawn chair or blanket for your comfort as this is an outdoor event and must be held, rain or shine, as the butterflies must be released.  Thanks and hope to see you there.

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Although not part of Release, I just loved this scene last week near the 5 acre lake at Calumet Park Cemetery

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New addition to Calumet Park Cemetery…

The Bumblebee – specialty loader to move earth with the least damage to the lawns of Calumet Park Cemetery
Alex Dominguez driving the new earth mover, affectionately nicknamed “the bumblebee”.

     From October through April, graves do not get seeded as grass will not grow during the winter months.  Generally in Spring, after the last thaw, the grounds crew goes to work to level all graves from those months, put down a layer of topsoil, grass seed and topped with an erosion blanket.

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     Normally by Memorial Weekend all are completed and the grass is on its way to match the surrounding lawn.  This year, with all the rain (record rainfall in May) that NW Indiana has received, all the graves are not seeded as of the first part of June.  A check in the area with local farmers and you will find that they, too, are way behind on planting their crops due to the wet soil.
     We ask that our families be patient.  It does nobody any good to not have this very important step in the burial process completed.  Calumet Park Cemetery has over four hundred acres of land, with 170 developed.  During the course of October to June, there have been 421 immediate need families served by Calumet Park Cemetery, with each grave needing individual attention to get the grass as desired and deserved by our patron families. 
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     Add to all of those burials the ongoing task of new burials, cutting grass and trimming shrubs and bushes, and the normal routine of maintaining a cemetery, this year has been very challenging.  With all the rain comes quicker growth of grass which increases the need to make sure the cemetery is worthy of the families that come to us.
     Also, when the grounds are soaked, it takes more than one or two nice days to have the water seep deep enough or drain away.  When the grounds are soft, their sponginess makes it impossible to drive heavy vehicles laden with dirt fill across the surface without tearing up the grounds.  It is for this reason that Calumet Park invested in “the bumblebee” which will make it possible to get the heavy dirt needed to fill in a grave to the grave.
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     Every family is important.  The loss of a loved one moves their passing to the highest degree of attention and respect in their survivor’s minds and hearts.  However, since this is true of all who have passed, Calumet Park cannot move one families needs before needs of another family.  It is our absolute goal to take care of every family.  We have not found the magic wand that lets us sweep across the entire cemetery, say a magic word, and have every grave filled in and grass planted at the same time.
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     It pains each of us that work at Calumet Park when we see so much rain as we know there will be discomfort, delays and many other challenges that occur due to inclement weather.  We do our best and our grounds crew is absolutely dedicated to be worthy of the trust that families put in them.  As good as they are (number one cemetery of the year for the country for 2018), they are human and do the best that is humanly possible to meet the needs of every family that enters this sacred place.
     On your next visit to the cemetery, do a slow 360 degree spin and see how nice the land is maintained all around your space.  Your grave will blend in as time passes as it has for all you see for as far as you can see.  It has been this way since our founding in 1928 and it will be for all time. 
     For information on prearranging for your cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803. 



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Veteran Memorial Service at Calumet Park Cemetery … 2019

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Memorial Weekend at Calumet Park Cemetery…announcing gravefinder program for your use…

Look at previous posts as newsletter shows the schedule of events for the weekend along with many interesting stories.  For your copy of the newsletter, call or visit this Memorial Weekend as everyone through the gates will receive a copy.  Also, visit our new website at mycalumetpark.com to use the new gravefinder program.  It is very simple:   go to website, scroll down to gravefinder and follow the prompts.  All you will need to do is enter the location and you will be directed to the lot you are seeking.  The program  for the gravefinder is triggered by the location and not the name at this time.  If you are not sure of the location, stop at the office and we will get the info for you.

A special thanks to Dee Harrison for creating the gravefinder for Calumet Park.  This is a huge accomplishment as there are tens of thousands of lots that needed to be included in this program.

Have an enjoyable Memorial Weekend and remember the reason for the holiday…REMEMBERING THE PASSING OF WARRIORS FOR YOUR COUNTRY!  Call 219-769-8803 for help.

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Spring has arrived at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, Indiana…Happy Mother’s Day to all…

Administration Building

Check out other posts in this blog to see the Spring newsletter, or stop at the office on your next visit to the cemetery.  The entire Memorial Day schedule is included.  If you have questions, call 769-8803.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s of the world.  Thank you for all you do.  Calumet Park will present a bouquet of flowers to all visitors to the cemetery on Mother’s Day until we run out.  Hope your day is great and thanks to all who come visit their Mother’s at whatever cemetery they are in.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers…..

The most important question that can be asked is the one that you need answered.  So, how can a FAQ sheet be put together that brings your question to the top of the list? A suggestion might be for you to scan through all the questions shown in this blog and find the one that you are looking for.  You can call 219-769-8803 at any time (8:30-4:30 Monday thru Friday) if you need an immediate answer, which generally prompts a caller to ask follow-up questions.  For non-urgent answers, read all the FAQ entries and you may discover questions that you had not thought about to ask but really wanted to know.

Click FAQ for inquisitive families

for answers to 67 frequently asked questions.  Take a little time to read through these questions as you may feel comforted knowing a little about a topic that nobody likes to talk about…

 

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He is risen…

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April 18, 2019 · 1:24 pm

Nobody is too tough to cry….

Nobody is too tough to cry

by Daniel Moran, G.M. Calumet Park Cemetery

I turned my car onto a rutted, dirt road.  About a quarter of a mile in, I passed a rusted gate hanging half off the hinges.  The house was really not much more than a shack with an old couch on the porch and windows that were in bad need of repair.  It was almost dark, that time when you can see a light on in a window when the sky is darker than it is light.  There was no garage and no car, so I was wondering if my appointment was even home.  I was there to talk about new windows, or at least storm windows, and a quick glance showed that the house was actually deteriorating around the frames so I was asking myself if we could even do anything for this homeowner.

I parked, picked my way past the rotted porch floorboards and knocked.  I confess, I knocked lightly as I was hoping nobody was home so I wouldn’t waste my time on this lead.  As I turned to leave, I heard a male voice shout that I should come in.  “Crap!” I thought as I turned the doorknob and tentatively entered the house.  “Hello, my name is Dan and I am from the replacement window company,” I said as I slowly obeyed the command.  The living room was very small, maybe 10 x 10 and there was a worn-out recliner straight on from the front door.

The man sat under a very low wattage lamp.  There was a small area rug, an old black and white TV, and a simple black phone on a tin tray table next to him along with an ash tray spilling out cigarette butts.  There was a pile of wood shavings on the floor in front of his chair and he was whittling something as I approached.  “Get a chair from the kitchen and come talk to me about my windows.   This past winter was brutal on me.”

I pulled up a chair and sat, and my heart was racing.  The man, we’ll call him Bob for this story, had no legs, a right arm with a hand that had nubs for fingers, no left arm, long, oily hair hanging down past his beard and an eye patch over his left eye.  His face was scarred and his voice was ragged, presumably from years of smoking.

I gave a quick presentation of storm windows because it seemed obvious he had little to no money, which turned out to be correct.  But in the time we were together, we found a common bond.  He was a door gunner in Vietnam during the TET Offensive in ’68, and went from a small-town boy to a torn apart body of a man whose heart and soul was ripped away along with his lost limbs and eye.  In fact, as I shared some of my story of being a ‘Nam alumni, he poured out his pain.  This meeting of veterans was in 1984, 14 years after his being torn apart from concentrated ground fire.  It was always the goal of the Viet Cong to take out a door gunner when possible to stop some of the devastating M-50 machine gun attacks from the sky.

He shared his story of being in the hospital for over a year, and of the complications from taking so many rounds.  At one point, he pulled up his shirt and showed his body; riddled with scars.  I cried as he related the pain, the loss of hope, the confusion, the loneliness and the isolation his life had become.  He nodded to a purple heart next to his phone and bitterly mocked what he got for his trouble as a soldier in Vietnam.

We talked for a couple of hours and I finally said I had to leave, but that I would be back.  I promised.  I told him that, one way or another, he was getting new windows for his house.  And I was good to my word as I split the cost with the owner of the company after sharing Bob’s story.  By the way, we had to give him a new fence, too, because I tore his fence up trying to back out in pitch dark as I was squinting through my reddened eyes from the experience of meeting Bob.

I am sharing this story because Memorial Day is upon us once again.  Many years have passed and nearly all of us “old timer Vietnam vets” still live out our night terrors.  For me, I took my uniform off in 1971…48 years ago.  But there are living vets from WWII, Korea, and all the mid-East wars right up to newly created vets leaving the service as you read this as people that served their country with pride, and dignity and honor.  These people, your grandparents and parents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters need to be remembered, particularly those whose deaths happened as a result of time served in our great military.  Veterans Day is meant for all of these people, and Memorial Day is for the departed.  However, I believe that there are many walking dead among us who lost a big part of who they might have been by fighting for this county, and they need to be honored and remembered every day.

I ask that all who read this article find time on Sunday, May 26 at 1:00, rain or shine, to come out to Calumet Park Cemetery and join with other like-minded people who wish to make a show of appreciation to our men and women of the armed forces.

People like Bob lost everything.  With his torn body, mind and soul, he had a lifetime that was so different than he could have ever imagined before he put on his first pair of Army boots.  He and all of his brothers and sisters in arms deserve an hour of respect and genuine thanks.

carving

Oh, the wood shavings.  The picture of the wood carving of the wizard shown with this article was carved by good old, one eyed, one armed, no fingered Bob as a gift to me in March of 1984.  It took him a couple of months to whittle it from a branch that came down with his fence from my inability to back up a car when leaving his home that winter night.  It hangs on my office wall to this day as a reminder that there can always be something good coming from something bad.  Bob was willing to share a couple of his hours with me, and created a work of art kindled by our mutual respect for time served for this country.  To me, this simple work of Bob has always had more meaning than all the medals that were awarded to me for my work in Nam.

I never saw Bob again, but that time together still occupies a part of my heart that reminds me that nobody is too tough to cry.  Never forget that “there but through the grace of God go I”.

mycalumetpark.com

 

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