The Greatest People I Never Knew
The Greatest People I Never Knew
A Funeral Director's lessons about people he came to know only in death, and how they changed his life
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When you lose someone you love, you learn new things about them---often from strangers who were touched by the one you lost.  This book is about how thirteen people touched the man who met them in his Funeral Home.  Without ever knowing them personally---hearing their laughter or seeing their tears---Eric Daniels describes how he's come to understand and value the lives of those he tended to in death.

In today's busy and uncertain world, the stories presented here are gentle reminders to appreciate the blessings of each day.   They are also a source of comfort for those who've lost family and friends.  The loved ones who've gone before us have left legacies which are often worth sharing.  And thus, with surprising candor and compassion, Mr. Daniels passes the torch to the reader, with a clear message: what you do each day really does matter.  Your legacy is at your fingertips.

“Carter’s Blessings”
The Story of J. Carter Brown
1987 – 2001

 To everything there is a season and a time
to every purpose under the heavens”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Life was just beginning for J. Carter Brown, a happy, outgoing, vibrant and handsome 13 year old, whose life ended in a most unusual way and at an already difficult time for his family.

The son of a certified social worker/minister, Billy and his wife Nancy, Carter was family oriented and was very involved in his church’s activities. Living in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, he enjoyed the life of a small town boy and had the good fortune of belonging to the South Congregational Church in Concord. At a young age, Carter learned the importance and value in helping others, so he was more than willing to volunteer his time and services with a smile on his face. In fact, he was the first and only male member of the church’s Guild!

Among the activities which Carter enjoyed, a favorite was visiting his grandparents in Virginia. “Cold Spring” ...the 860-acre family farm...gave Carter and his little sister, Elizabeth, freedom to roam. He loved to ride an old green tractor his Grandpa had bought years earlier. Every visit was a happy adventure, although not every visit was for pleasure.

On May 4, 2001, Carter’s grandmother, Elizabeth, died at the age of 81. Because he knew where his grandmother was, Carter was in peace about her death, but was naturally sad that he’d never see her again. Her funeral was held on May 7, 2001 at 2:00 p.m. After returning to the farm, Carter put his Grandma’s memorial folder in his pocket, changed into his jeans, and headed off for a ride on his favorite tractor.

Because Carter was a regular pro with the tractor, no one worried about him. As time went by, from minutes to hours, everyone figured he needed to be alone for awhile. But after several hours, Billy and Nancy figured he’d lost track of time, so they decided to walk the farm to find Carter riding atop the tractor. I wish that’s what they had found. Instead, they found the tractor tipped on its side on a hill and Carter lay dead 20 feet away. The tractor had evidently rolled 40 yards down an embankment, fatally injuring Carter’s internal organs, before resting on its side a few feet away.

I was called by a funeral director at McCoy Funeral Home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He had just finished the funeral of Carter’s grandmother, and now he had to bring her dead 13-year-old grandson to the Funeral Home for preparation and transportation back to New Hampshire. While he was incredulous about what had happened, he managed to explain the situation to me. He told me how polite and handsome Carter was, and that he was just talking to him in the limousine a few hours earlier. We were both concerned for the family, but especially Carter’s dad. We asked each other, “How could he lose his mother and then, on the day of her funeral, lose his only son at the age of 13?” Life didn’t seem fair. Despite our sadness, we knew we had a job to do and we tended to the business of ensuring a smooth transition from Virginia to New Hampshire, where I would begin to coordinate a fitting tribute and farewell for Carter.

Once the travel logistics had been arranged, I set up with Billy and Nancy, to meet the following day. It’s impossible to explain ho

After serving in the U.S. Army as a Paratrooper, Eric Daniels studied Funeral Science, winning recognition and highest honors during his schooling. He became a Funeral Director in 1995, and has worked in Funeral Homes in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Mr. Daniels has published articles in newspapers and trade magazines, and is also a former  member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

He lives in Melbourne, Florida.

The author can be reached at:
The Greatest People
c/o Eric Daniels
7827 Citrus Creek Drive

Melbourne, FL. 32940

Photo credit: Photography by Nylora, Concord, NH


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