A Hurst pulled up and unload a casket, entering through the unlock doors of the church. A set of ten year-old twins observed this activity like they had observed so many times before from the window of their Chicago home. Their home gave a bird’s eye view to the front of the church located at the corner of the street. Unknown to their parents the twins, Kourtney and Hiliary, dashed from their home as the Hurst leaves the church and make their way into the church sanctuary before the grieving family and friends arrive. Kourtney, three minutes older than his sister, Hiliary, examine the decease and critiques the work of the mortician, saying, “I could have done a better job”. Normally children their age would be fearful and not willing to enter into an empty church with the decease. But these two were far from “normal” in that regard. They were more than inquisitive as they made a routine habit of observing the work of the local mortician and somehow were in “awe” regarding death. At the age of 10, Kourtney’s dream of becoming a mortician was engrained in his heart. Kourtney tells when asked what he wanted to be in elementary school he stated a mortician. “The teacher had to explained to the other students what a mortician was.” said Kourtney.
Some 30 years later, Kourtney finished high school in Chicago, graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Economics and later successfully completed a two year program in “one year” at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in their Mortuary Science Program. He worked part time at a local restraunt while in pursuit of becoming a licensed mortician. By license he explained he had to pass a state exam before he was granted his license. “I had to pass a 500 question exams that took 8 hours to complete,” Kourtney replied. He is also an ordain minister as well.
I officially met Kourtney after my 98-year old aunt transition from here to
eternity on Christmas Day. My aunt had made prior preparation for her journey, having purchase the burial plots for her and her husband some 60 years earlier. Her husband died after 48 years of marriage. They never had any children. My aunt and her niece (my wife) picked out her transition clothing about seven years ago and planned her home going celebration at her church including her favorite gospel songs. Kourtney was amazed at her level of preparation as he stated she had to purchase two of the first “one hundreds” plots sold by the cemetery. “Over 26,000 people had been buried at this cemetery since she purchased these plots.” Kourtney said as we attended a private burial. As a licensed funeral director and embalmer servicing Illinois and Missouri, Kourtney also provides his professional service to four other funeral homes as he continue to pursue his dream and goals first established at the young age of 10 years.
I recall a billboard of one out of state funeral home where the company slogan was “Only heaven could provide better service.” The dignity, the professionalism and the care we witnessed from Teat Chapel, under the direction of a child with a dream captivated our hearts. But that should not be a surprise from a 10 year-old twin telling his sister as they inspected the work of a local mortician, “I could have done a better job.” And a “better job” he does.