On Death

I was quite young when I saw my first dead person.  A Mr Wurm had a hardware store in the building my grandmother had a beauty shop on the 2nd floor.  His son committed suicide and for some reason my parents took me to the funeral home.  He had a bandage over his forehead but other than that it looked like he was asleep, and his chest wasn’t moving.  It felt weird being close to him.  The odor was of flowers in the room, and the lights were dimmed.  I kept wondering why he did that.  His Dad closed the store and I never heard of him again, but I still remember his name.

I was about 11 or 12 and was delivering some kind of flyer for the boy scouts.  New Bethlehem used to be on a railroad line with for real steam engines.  The tracks went by my house by maybe 100 yards.  I can still hear all those sounds.  There was a siding before the railroad moved out and there must have been about 8 sidings.  I’m not sure of the language here.  Anyway, in delivering the flyers, I decided to take a shortcut across the railroad sidings.  It was about 9 o’clock in the morning and I went to cross the tracks, I noticed a leg with a shoe on it.  I had problems comprehending that it really was a leg….and as I got closer, there was an arm, all dirty with railroad gravel on it, and then a torso with the other arm and leg, and then the head.  I suddenly realized it was the head of the father of one of my scouting friends.  I’ve since been informed that Bimp is not the guys son but it’s in my replies/comments somewhere if you’re interested. Bimp Musser.  I’ve forgotten how he got that nickname and now I don’t even remember his given name.  I got help and left after police arrived.  It was the first real trauma I ever saw and I can’t say it let me to my profession, but the shock value of seeing a torn up body may have.  I had dreams of sewing him back together.  Some years later, his son, my boy scout buddy…now of age…drank a full bottle of Vodka at the VFW, and died of acute alcohol poisoning.  I was gone from New Bethlehem by then.

So, in continuing on the subject of death.  For some reason, depression runs strongly in the Hayes side of the family.  I sure hope I have not passed it on.  The first time I was diagnosed with depression, I know damn well I was not depressed.  The doc however, took priority.  I may or may not write of the results of that…I’m just lucky to have survived and gone on to be a successful surgeon.  I now fully admit I’m depressed.  Have been so in the past with usually long intervals of “normal” between the bouts.  I also feel I have plenty reason to be depressed now and guess I may have to go back to the doc.  Dr. Antone Pitone M.D. was so very helpful but he had to leave me to take care of his father.  Wish I had known him earlier.  Then he passed me to a young Dr. Bass ?  or Ross?  I can never remember her name tho I saw her 4 or 5 times.  Black lady, very nice to communicate with.  Thought I was doing well on the meds but it’s getting worse.  I know where all the guns and ammo are in the house.  I know where all the drugs, esp. the right ones, are.  I’ve even hoarded them for a while.  It is starting to get scary to me.  Not sure why it should be scary.  In computer terms it’s little more than a toggle.  A switch.  Emotions run high.  Little things set me off.  Knowing I’m depressed and that it can get better is all that keeps me from hitting the toggle.  I just realized this is published.  Being new to blogging and my cynical nephew who is so intelligent it seems sad, won’t be there to answer any questions. (His choice)  So, I guess I’ll just hit update and watch the wheels turn.  Maybe if I write of something more interesting.

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2 Responses to On Death

  1. Paul Horton says:

    I didn’t come across any deceased people until I joined the cops in 1966, I was 21 and it was at the city morgue. He was a very fit young footballer that had been hit by another vehicle as he was crossing the road early in the evening. One of his legs had been severed below the knee but I cannot recall anything else. This was my first experience confronting deceased persons and I was accompanied by another experienced senior officer so he got the detail and I got the experience.

    Little did I know at that time just how much confronting dead bodies would become such a major part of my life at accident scenes, talking with people about events leading to their situation with acute awareness they were most probably going to die very shortly. A few years later when I moved into crime scene investigation the rate of exposure would increase significantly and one dreadful weekend in the Newcastle area of OZ as the officer ‘on call’ I investigated the deaths of 30 people in 3 days, 2 murders, 18 motor fatal vehicle collisions, several domestic and industrial deaths.

    I moved to Sydney a few years later where the exposure rate went through the roof and I personally dealt with 150 suspicious deaths annually. These were largely made up of drug overdoses where we found young people, in many cases beautiful young people, sitting on a toilet seat with a needle stuck in their arm. One very unusual event I will always remember is a young man of Indian or Malaysian background cut his all his toes off with a hand held tin or heavy wire cutter and he had started on his other hand before he was found. Again as shift supervisor I cannot recall all close detail as I handed the brief to my younger assistant (female now an Inspector of Police) because she wanted to do the job and I went on to the next for the evening.

    The lifestyle was pretty traumatic but someone had to do the job and I didn’t let it get to me, well I don’t think so, but time will tell I suppose and 15 years out of the pressure cooker life seems to be OK – but I think very deeply about events like the Japanese Tsunami

  2. Barbara Adams says:

    Hi Bob—-Your blog on seeing death for the first time. “methinks” that you possibly have the wrong name for the man you found on the railroad tracks. I think that man’s last name was Davis. He had a son, Bill & a daughter Barbara (she married John Smith in the Class of’ ’55. They are at every class reunion & live in Butler) I think Bill’s life ended tragically also.
    “Bimp” Musser’s given name was Arnold. His Dad’s name was Joe. Lum & I lived on Vine St from 1961-1966 & the Mussers & their boys lived across the St. at that time. I do not know if “Bimp” is still alive or how he got that nickname either.
    Get Well soon. Hope you were a good patient….Barbara

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