Things of interest around Fairhaven.
Easter is often a time for reflection. With its connection to the Bible and the resurrection, it also has many ties to grief. People remember their lost loved ones at Easter causing grief to raise it's head and swamp our emotions. Those who are religious are reminded that they will see their lost loved ones again some day. Those beliefs comfort them but can also give rise to renewed grief.
Here at Fairhaven, we have a tradition of Easter Sunrise services. This year marks our 18th annual event. (Click HERE for a flyer.) When I was thinking of what to write about Easter and grief I somehow ended up thinking of all the people I work with who come here at 4 and 5 am on Easter to help put on this special event. These people give from their hearts to the community and the families we serve at Fairhaven in order to present a special service of remembrance. This service is part of what we do to help families deal with their loss and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
The first Easter after I was hired, I volunteered to help with the event. I was to assist the Easter Bunny since the person who wears the costume can't see and needs to be led. I arrived about 5 am and the park was very dark. However, there was a bustle of people, lights and sound in the administration building. I made my way to the Florist shop where the florist gave me a huge basket of plastic eggs filled with candy for the kids. The florist, Roger Peterson, who is now retired, warned me that even though the Easter Bunny would give away the eggs, the basket would get heavier as the morning wore on so I shouldn't carry it around until I absolutely needed to.
I took the basket and made my way to the historic mausoleum in search of that year's Easter Bunny, Ruth Velez, the President's assistant. When I found her, she wasn't wearing the bunny costume. Ruth was bustling around making sure trays of doughnuts and pastries were set up along with coffee and juice for all the participating guests and staff. I took a muffin and went into the Rose Window Chapel inside the mausoleum. I left the heavy basket with the bunny costume and, munching my muffin, I wandered outside to see what everyone was doing.
Despite the darkness, it was easy to see what the staff was doing. Everything.
Each year that I volunteered, I gained a new appreciation for what the staff at Fairhaven is capable of. I spent several years wearing a goofy headband with floppy bunny ears, struggling to carry the heavy basket of eggs, leading the Easter Bunny around the park and putting eggs in her hand so she could give them to children. I spent a few years dressed as a peasant, mourning at the foot of the cross in the vignette that we put on.
For several of these years, my daughter accompanied me and one year when we were peasants, my daughter had to lead the donkey that Jesus rode because everyone else was afraid of the animal! And my daughter wasn't the only person who participated just because someone in her family worked at Fairhaven. Ruth Velez's husband Jaime was an angel for several years. Vice President Tiffany Gallarzo's daughter was one too. And our IT vendor Steve Duff volunteered to be the Easter Bunny several times. In fact this year, the bunny is Andrew Gallarzo, who was once one of the children that Steve, Ruth, and Delia Teis, who was our Records Clerk for many years, gave candy to when they were dressed as the Easter Bunny.
For Easter, many of the staff have jobs far beyond the scope of their daily activities at Fairhaven. My boss, Jon Searfoss, the Accounting Manager, spent a few Easter mornings dressed in a Roman soldier costume which bared his legs, causing him to walk around to keep from getting too cold. One year, I recall hearing a disembodied voice coming from the roof of the mausoleum. I looked up to see the faint outline of the face of Omar Gallarzo, one of the Vice Presidents, dressed all in black, working behind the scenes to ensure the angels on the roof were all safe. And then there was the time I saw two Family Service Counselors herding a lost chicken back into the petting zoo. There were Service Directors dressed as thieves, carrying Styrofoam crosses in the vignette, staff with flashlights directing traffic, the florist in a tent selling flowers, and everywhere, staff with walkie talkies and radios working hard to make everything come together. Family Service Counselor Lou Carlson has always been there as our MC and Marla Noel, the President herself, has spent time driving a golf cart for local dignitaries and handicapped people.
Everyone who participates has a steadfast determination to make the service the best possible event for our families and the community. It is something we can do to give back to them at a time of emotional reflection and remembrance. Every year that I worked, when I drove home afterward, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I had done something to help make Easter special for those who attended the service. And I know, without a doubt, that all my co-workers feel exactly the same.
If you are in the Orange County area, you are welcome to join us for our 18th Annual Easter Sunrise Service at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary. Gates open at 5:30 am and the service is from 6 am to 7 am.
Happy Easter to all!
Charity Gallardo, Blog Coordinator – Charity has been the Network Administrator for the Fairhaven Family Group for 13 years. When she’s not assisting staff with their computer issues, she is a published author of romance novels, an award winning cover artist and a blogger.