Category Archives: veterans at calumet Park cemetery

The day my dead dad saved my life….

It was an early June day in 1971.  Dad died in 1960 when I was but a boy of 11.

In May of 1971, I finished up my second tour of duty in Vietnam with the Green Berets, 5th Special Forces Group.  I was 22 then, going on 60.  This is not a story of Vietnam so much but how my Dad rescued me from thoughts of suicide.  Stay with me as this story has a happy ending.

Fresh home from the war, my war, as most people who have served have tattooed to their soul who have experienced man’s inhumanity to man up close and personal.  I joined the military in 1968, gung ho to save the world from communism.  I was an innocent, a person whose life was pretty simple up to those Vietnam days.  Post-Vietnam, I returned to my small-town life in upstate New York a changed person.

I was hardened by the things that I saw and things that I did and things that kept me awake at night.  I wanted to be a kid again, and have the experiences of the jungle sucked from my brain.  I felt like my insides were trying to run away from my body.  Anxiety, and what is now better known at PTSD gave me panic attacks.  I had disturbing thoughts and feelings and nightmares.

Before Vietnam, I was all over the God thing.  I believed in all the stories of the bible and all the wonders of Jesus that the nuns and priests brainwashed into us Catholic school kids.  For me, I attended Catholic school my entire life, so I was on board with God and heaven and hell and purgatory, venial sins and mortal sins, and what life was supposed to be about.

Except life away from the good ‘ol U.S of A. did not fit the mold.  So, the day came when I was going to stop running from the ghosts that haunted me every day.  I decided to go to St. Bonaventure Cemetery and tell Dad I was done with it all.  Life, as I could see it at that time, was too much.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  I found his grave and sat with my guitar.  And I talked to him.  I poured out my pain and sorrow and fears and dread.  I prayed that if there was a God, that it was time to prove it because I did not want to live any more.

Miraculously, a peace came over me.  It was almost like a movie flashing through my brain. All the good memories, the pre-war memories, flooded my body and took away my thoughts of suicide.  Dad was there and he saved me.  Dad and God.  Maybe Dad was God and God was Dad.  All I know is that having a place to go where I knew my Dad was at gave me physical, mental, and emotional strength to look for the good in life.

I have always been grateful that Mom laid him to rest at a cemetery as it offered a place for me to go to, and to contemplate life.  I truly believe that everyone should have that same feeling of being able to visit those people that were important to us in life.  I don’t get back to New York much lately, but it gives me peace just to know that Dad is there when I need him.  Even today, from many miles away from his grave, I can transport my being to his gravesite and hear him and God whisper of the glories of life and afterlife.  And what is that worth in silver and gold?

For information on preplanning, call 219-769-8803 or stop by the cemetery.  Its costs nothing to be educated.

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Final Arrangements…and I do mean final!

Regardless of whether one prearranges for their cemetery and funeral needs (advance planning) or leaves such arrangements to those left behind (at-need), this article will offer some basic guidelines.  When friends, relatives or new acquaintances find out that I work at a cemetery, the questions come with the main question being, “How much does it cost?”

To answer this question, I would have to ask a lot of questions in return, throwing the hot potato back at them.  “How much does a house cost, or a car, or an engagement ring or even something as simple as a dozen eggs.”  What is this guy talking about?  Take the eggs, for example.  Are they plain old, average sized eggs?  Are they jumbo sized?  Are they from free range chickens?  And that is just trying to get to the answer of how much do eggs cost.

A better approach to the question of the price of a funeral and cemetery arrangements is to let a person know that they should not spend any more than is necessary to meet their needs, or their budget.  And a budget is a funny thing as it was just proven during the government shut-down that most Americans are but a couple of paychecks away from being unable to meet their financial needs.  Sadly, a great many of the people that come to us unprepared are shocked at the cost of dying.  They lose the luxury of choice.  If one does not have pre-needed their cemetery and funeral arrangements, have guaranteed insurance money to be available when they die, or they outlive their income, or if they have huge medical bills that empty the money stash set aside for a rainy day, they are out of luck.

So, setting the actual cost aside, lets explore all that is necessary to make complete cemetery and funeral arrangements.  By the way, when it comes to funerals, the Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes give you a copy of their price list when at a funeral home in person, or give you pricing on the phone when asked.

First, what do you want?  Do you want traditional ground burial at a cemetery?  If so, you will need a grave space, an outer container that the casket goes in, and an opening/closing of the grave.  In addition, most people that select ground burial want to place an above ground monument or at least flush memorials that mark the location of a loved one forever.

At the funeral home, most people that choose ground burial want to have a visitation with viewing followed by a funeral committal service at their cemetery.  A committal service is when you commit your loved one to a final resting place.  In Indiana, a funeral director must be present any time a burial takes place with people gathered to say goodbye.  For a funeral service with visitation, a casket would be necessary.  Also, supporting products go hand-in-hand when a funeral is arranged which may include a register book for guests to sign in, prayer cards and envelopes, flowers and quite often, food and drinks.

When you add all of these things together, the average cost of cemetery and funeral goods and services is around $12-$15,000.  Think of planning a wedding, and all of the costs involved.  From a venue, to rings, to wedding dress and attire for the wedding party, to food and music and photography, to guest lists and places for them to stay, to invitations and more.  Most weddings today run $20,000 and more…generally, a lot more.

A wedding is one of life’s biggest events and the final “biggest event” is one’s funeral.  There are many of the same types of things to arrange as a wedding.  The venue (what funeral home and what cemetery), the announcement (obituary), clothing for the decedent and for family that plan on attending, to music and clergy and on-and-on.  Now days, people want a funeral to be an experience and not just a cookie-cutter service that is just like every other funeral they have ever attended.

There will be a lifetime of grieving and learning to live without the deceased loved one.  A funeral is meant as a chance to gather with friends and family and celebrate the life that was lived.  When a person passes, they do not just disappear from the world and from our memories.  We all have a circle of friends and family that will also be grieving and that need a chance to say goodbye.  Believe me, there is nothing that shouts louder that a parent or child or spouse or friend is gone than to see them lying in state.

Arrangements that funeral homes and cemeteries provide are based on the cumulative needs of any given population.  In NW Indiana, seventy percent of the population still want a traditional funeral service followed by interment or entombment in a cemetery.  The other 30% select cremation.  Sometimes cremation is chosen because of money, sometimes for religious reasons and sometimes for ecological reasons.  Regardless, many of those that go with cremation still want and still need a chance to say a proper goodbye.  For those folks, they still want a traditional funeral service with all the trappings, to be followed by cremation.

Once the cremation is complete, the cremains (ashes) will be returned to the family for final disposition.  That can be as simple as keeping them at home, or letting them blow in the wind, or scattered over Lake Michigan.  But so many people have a need to be able to know where their loved one will be for eternity and want a place of peace and reverence that they can visit when the need arises “just to be near” their loved one.

Calumet Park, recent winner of the best cemetery in the country for 2018, has many, many possibilities that meet the needs, the wants and the pocket book of all who come to us.

Rather than try to make a list of meaningless pricing, you are invited to stop in at your convenience and one of our funeral directors or one of our family service people will be happy to take you on a tour of our facilities, and answer all of your questions.  In addition, they can tailor an event, whether grandiose or simple, and give you exact pricing.  It would be then in your hands to decide if you wanted to prearrange and freeze the price or go home and at least know what you would be up against financially to get what will best meet your needs.

Call 219-769-8803 to arrange a personal meeting with one of our professional staff members.  And remember that is better to have your arrangements and not need them than to need them and not be able to afford them.

 

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Life…a poem from Diane Zych printed with her permission

Diane Zych wrote a very beautiful poem that she is willing to share with our readers.  She was blessed with a 50 year marriage and lost her sweet and loving husband this past year.

   Life

It is said that man is destined to die

     from the moment of his birth.

But though I may try, I can not deny

     life’s merriment and mirth.

I have spent hours praising intoxicating flowers,

     and toasting the sinuous sun.

As the moon brightens, my inebriation heightens,

     in celebration of the day that is done.

So I shall be fanciful, lighthearted and gay

     and rejoice in the miracle of life.

For all too soon will come the day

     I shall be sobered by Death’s summoning fife.

Thank you for sharing these meaningful words.

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Top cemetery in the country awarded to Calumet Park Cemetery from American Cemetery and Cremation magazine…

ACE Winner  Click here for the article announcing Calumet Park Cemetery as the winner of the best cemetery in the country.  Thanks to all the employees and owners of Calumet Park Cemetery.  It is due to the dedication and true spirit of service to our neighbors that inspires the Calumet team to be the best.  Like the Wizard of Oz, we always knew that we had a brain, a heart and courage, and now we have bragging rights that our feelings about what we do is officially recognized.   Calumet Park has received runner-up awards a number of times so it is appreciated to be the recipient of this honor from the American Cemetery and Cremation magazine (celebrating their 90th anniversary just as Calumet Park Cemetery is doing the same…both founded in 1928).

For info on prearranging you cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803.

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Fall is in the air at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville…see below for upcoming events

Good week for colored leaf watching at Calumet Park.

It is a beautiful fall day in Merrillville.  Below are some random shots of Calumet Park Cemetery at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville, Indiana.  From atop the hill of crosses, it feels like the property is endless.  There are over 400 acres of land owned by Calumet Park, with 170 developed.  There are thousands of graves available from all price ranges in the area that is currently developed.  At approximately 1100 burials per acre and at the current rate of usage, Calumet Park has land for close to 550 years.  This means that it is OK to not worry about using up all the land.  In fact, there are seven different possibilities for permanent placement of cremains, along with private and community mausoleums, flush bronze on granite sections, flush granite sections, above ground monument sections and so much more.

Meditation Pond with fountain, bridge, niches, waterfalls and gazebo.

Crucifixion monument at Priest’s Circle.

Meditation Pond Niches which allow etchings of loved ones on the niche fronts.

Meditation Waterfalls.

Meditation Pond with fountain and bridge.

Meditation Pond fountain,.

First of many planned signs that will be placed around the cemetery describing features and history of the cemetery.

Monument memorializing the lost souls of American Eagle crash on Halloween night so many years ago.

Garden surrounding the American Eagle Memorial is designed in the shape of an angel if seen from above. Shown is the left wing.

Monument with names of all whose lives were cut short on that cold and wet evening.

Right wing of angel.

Some of the names of those unfortunate souls.

American flag at the SE corner of the Veteran Section (Section 17)

Crosses on the Hill…first phase of this holy place.

Standing beneath the crosses and looking north. Notice all the land space for future development as needed.

Looking N/NE from the hill.

Write your own thought or prayer as you view this photo.

Hundreds of acres of undeveloped land looking west from atop the hill.

Look S/SW from atop the hill.

Mark you calendars for Veterans Day, November 11 at 11:00 a.m. for a Memorial Service for veterans. Call 769-8803 for details.

November 29 will be the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rendina Funeral Chapel  from 6-8 p.m. (call early to reserve your angel and come early to have time to pick up your angel before the ceremony begins.  Call 980-1141 for details.

December 1 will be the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony at Merrillvile Funeral Chapel and will be from 3-5 p.m..  Try to come early to get your angel and to get good seats. Call 736-5840 for details.

December 8 will be the Angel Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Hobart Chapel on County Line Road in Hobart near the Apple Orchard.  The time for this event will be from 3-5 p.m. Call 940-3791 for details.

Call now to reserve your angel.

Happy thanksgiving to all.  You are all appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You can still participate in the Calumet Park Cemetery 5K Light the Darkness walk/run for suicide prevention…

 

2018-09-27 02.22.10http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-davich-lisa-gold-son-suicide-st-0928-story.html

Click on article above written by Jerry Davich, writer for the Post Tribune newspaper.  His article tells the story Dr. Gold.  She will be the  guest speaker for Saturday, September 29, 5K fundraiser for suicide awareness.  The map shows the path of the 3.1 mile course.  All are invited to join in on this fundraiser to bring suicide awareness and prevention into the public conversation.

Call 219-769-8803 for details.  Calumet Park is located at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville.  Over 100 runners/walkers have signed up and will participate.

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Fall newsletter at Calumet Park…important stories and upcoming events…

Fall 2018 Newsletter

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A fascinating story…

A time when “medaling” made a difference…

by Daniel Moran, G.M. Calumet Park Cemetery

I was standing outside the Calumet Park office in Merrillville in mid-August.  It was 91 degrees and very high humidity.  I was walking a man out to his car after helping with his cemetery questions.  For this story, I will refer to him as Bob.  I made mention that I could see he was riding with Christ and he stared at me for a second.  I pointed to the small statue on his dashboard.

“Oh! Oh yeah, that,” he answered.  And then, as we stood in the scorching sun, he told me his story.  A number of years ago, he spoke of riding his motorcycle and just loved the feeling of freedom this simple act gave him. His bike was not even a week old and he was putting it through the paces.    He said he might have been pushing the speed limit a little when, from his left mirror, he saw a car headed directly into his path.  To avoid being hit, throttled up to the max, lost control and veered directly into a concrete wall.

By all accounts, he said he should have died.  In fact, he even thinks that maybe he did die.  After three weeks in a coma, he awoke.  His first wife had died a couple of years before, and when he woke up after the crash, his second wife teared up as he spoke.  He whispered to her what you might expect someone to say when waking up in a hospital room.  “Where am I?” he asked.  “What happened?”

“Bob, you were in a serious accident,”  she answered.

“When?”

“Three weeks ago,” she replied.

Bob looked around the room.  He was connected to monitors and wires and tubes connecting him to life sustaining gadgetry.  He said a nurse came running in and doctors’ were called in to check on the return to life of this bandaged and broken body.  As things calmed down, he resumed his talk with his wife.  She explained that (please forgive the description of his injuries, but they are important to this miracle) his nose was torn to the side of his face.  Some of his teeth were gone and his lower jaw was ripped to the side.  Along with this were a number of broken bones but the facial injuries were the most severe.  He was knocked out completely and was constantly being monitored and observed as regards to brain injuries.

They talked and prayed and thanked everyone they saw that contributed to his recovery.  As Bob was wrapping up his story, I was sweating in the jungle-like heat and just wanted the story to be over so I could get back inside.  I was three feet away from one of my favorite inventions of all time…air conditioning, but I did not want to interrupt his story.

“So, I asked my wife about my chain and medal.  Did they find it?”

I figured it was maybe a medal from the service, or a gift from some special time in his life from some special person, or even a simple piece of gold jewelry that was important to him.  But, as he continued his story, the medal was a medallion that had the Sacred Heart of Jesus cast upon it.  It was a medal that Christians would wear as a reminder of the sacrifice made for all of our sins.

“My wife reached into her purse and stared down at the medal for a few seconds.  She started crying again.  I asked her what was wrong.  She handed me the silver chain and the medal.  My heart skipped a beat as I looked at my medallion.  It seems that when I hit the wall, I slammed so hard that somehow the medal was torn and bent…at the nose, mouth and chin.  My injuries were mirrored exactly on the medal. “

Bob stopped talking for a minute, and a chill ran down my sweat-soaked back.  It took a minute to register in my mind that his own injuries were replicated on a medal by a simple artists impression of what Jesus, the man, looked like….and how they melded into one on that fateful day three weeks previous to his regaining consciousness.

Coincidence?  Possibly.  But in this business, I hear too many stories of such incidents in people’s lives to believe in coincidence.  To me, his story rang true.  There was no need to enhance what happened.  It just happened.  There was nothing to be gained or lost in the telling of the story but I received it as an affirmation of the fact that God still makes miracles.

“So, the fact that I am here talking to you, and showing you my scars, and telling you why I have a $10.00 statue on the dash of my car…man, I believe He was riding with me that day.  Now, I go no place without Him.  Before the accident, it was just an ornament that seemed cool.  But believe me, I totally believe He was watching over me that day.

dashboard_jesus_car_grande

With that, we shook hands and said goodbye.  I asked if I could tell his story and he said sure, I tell everyone anyway.  His story reminded me of one of my favorite prayers.  You know the one.  Footprints, where a man had a dream.  He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.  For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.  When the last scene of his life flashed before him he looked back at the footprints and he noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.  This really bothered him and he asked the Lord about it.  “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way.  But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.  I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child.  I love you and I would never leave you.  During the times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

I don’t know the author of Footprints, but the bike guy was looking me in the eye and telling his own version of Footprints.   You can read this and say it’s an interesting story, or you can read this and know that miracles still happen.  Simply put, for you to even be reading this story, at this moment, is quite a miracle when you consider how fragile life is for all of us.  I believe absolutely that we are here because we are supposed to be here, and if it is not our time to go, then we can run into a stone wall at 80 miles an hour and live to tell about it.

So, Bob, thanks for your story.  I am glad that we met and you shared your story.  Or…hey, maybe it was preordained that I hear your story so I could share it with those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

For info on pre-planning funeral and cemetery arrangements, stop in or call 219-769-8803

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Crosses erected at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville on August 1, 2018…

Pastor Rusty Shields was joined by Paul Vogel, son Quinn, Anne Jones, Richard Stake and Daniel Moran at an early morning, impromptu dedication of the crosses.  After singing Amazing Grace, the Thursday morning prayer group gathered around the crosses as Pastor Shields offered a prayer of thanks and a blessing that the crosses may bring all who see them a little closer to God.

Randy Music, Kevin Music, Tom Music, Orlando Perez, Shawn McClure, Jeremy Grant and Tim McClure – designers and installers of crosses on August 2, 2018.

After years of depositing dirt to make a small hill just west of the mausoleum complex, the time had come to bring this dream of acknowledgement and praise to fruition by erecting the three crosses.  Tim McClure and Tom Music, superintendent and assistant superintendent of Calumet Park Cemetery, with the help of the ground’s crew staff of Kevin Music, Randy Music, Shawn McClure, Jeremy Grant and Orlando Perez, set them in place on Wednesday, August 1.  They are impressive and inspiring and may be seen by all when you visit Calumet Park Cemetery.

The crosses offer an opportunity for reflection on the Christian belief that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice opened the path to eternity in heaven by simply accepting Him as the Savior…a path to eternal glory for all who seek Him.  A special thanks go out to the Board of Director’s of Calumet Park Cemetery for making this special place, now blessed, for all who visit the cemetery.

Stop in at the office and a Family Service Person will be more than happy to show you these beautiful crosses.  A formal dedication open to the public is being planned.  A notice will go out to all of our on-line newsletter subscribers as to a time and date.  If you are not currently on our email list,  send us an email with your name to:  newsletter@calumetparkcemetery.com  In subject portion, type “add me to email list” and in the message portion enter your name, address including zip and phone.  For instance, John Doe, 123 Smith Lane, Smallville, IN 56410 (219.771.7777).

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Butterfly Release for 2018 a resounding success…in spite of iffy weather…

Thanks to all who came out for the live butterfly release on Saturday, July 21.  The weather cooperated and all had a memorable time.  A

A special thanks to all the participants:  Paul Vogel II, Rob Vogel, Rusty Shields, Richard Stake, Dianne Correll, Stephanie Syzmanski, Marilyn Kligler, Sandy Ferris, Carrie Evans, Violeta de la Torre-Corona, Mike Poweska, Matt Hahn,Tim McClure, Tom Music and the entire grounds team who handled the set up and tear down and traffic control and parking.  See you again next year.

Hope I did not miss anyone.

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