When reading a book about growing up above a funeral parlor, you probably wouldn’t expect it to be laugh-out-loud funny. But that’s exactly what you’ll find in the newly published Laid To Rest, co-written by mother and daughter Sheila Lamb-Gabler and Rose Gabler.
In addition, of course, there are many touching, tender moments—happy and sad, all bound together in an unforgettable account of Sheila’s childhood.
Both grew up in the southwest suburbs but have lived in Barrington for the past five years.
“The book is a memoir of my mom’s childhood and it’s all about experiencing and encountering death, from a child’s perspective,” says Rose.
“I started it about twenty years ago and picked it up and put it down and added more and put it in the closet,” says Sheila.
But the book always remained in her head and her heart. So when Rose published her recent book, The Creativity Gene, Sheila couldn’t help but think, “hey, my daughter could help me get this out there.”
“My mom grew up living above a funeral home (the Blake-Lamb Funeral Home in Oak Lawn) and during her childhood years she was obviously exposed to all these different cultures and different types of grieving, all while trying to live a normal life,” Rose says.
“I have been telling the kids different stories of living above the funeral home their whole lives,” Sheila says. In addition to Rose, Sheila also has two sons. “I said to Rose, ‘I will just relive my moments and then you put it all together and let’s write a book.’ Rose actually kept me on task and would send me emails, saying, ‘this is what you need to do this week or you need more stories or this needs to be elaborated on.’ ”
“Once we decided to actually do it and finish it, it didn’t take long. It was just a matter of me sitting down and walking through these different experiences.”
The book covers a wide range of Sheila’s equally humorous and incredibly moving stories. The funeral home was a family business in every sense of the word. She says that they often had 12 different funerals going at the same time and her mother insisted on feeding entire families, frequently over 100 people a night.
Rose also grew up in the funeral business. But as she says, “not to the extent of my mother, who would play hide and go seek in the caskets.”
Sheila and Rose already had a wonderful mother-daughter relationship prior to working on this book. But the process has brought them even closer. “Rose and I are best friends,” Sheila says. “Rose often said that she had no idea that’s how I grew up, because we were also in the funeral home business while my kids were growing up but they had a ‘normal’ upbringing. It wasn’t above a funeral home.”
“We had a lot of fun working on this. In fact, when we finished it, I said to her, ‘well, now we’ve got to write a second book because we have so much fun together.’”
The book, published on Amazon, is available in both paperback and e-book formats. The book is divided into 13 chapters and the chapters are broken up into different stories or experiences that Sheila had while living above the funeral parlor.
Sheila wants the book to illustrate how much her childhood experiences informed her adult attitude of making the most out of life. “Everybody knows that death is sad and that the worst thing that can happen to you is a loved one dying. None of that needed to be explained. What I wanted to explain was the delight that happens behind the scenes in the funeral home. And for me, what I learned through it is, I don’t have a regret in the world. I don’t regret anything because I saw so many people stand over caskets and say ‘I wish I said this.’ I learned to live without regrets. I take every opportunity asked of me. Someday, I’m going to die. I might as well just take this opportunity. I really don’t worry about anything. There’s nothing we’re going to do about it. It’s what happens, it’s why we’re alive and being able to experience that every day. It was drilled into my head, enjoy your life.”
Rose is grateful she was able to share this journey with her mom. “It was an incredible opportunity to be able to take my mom’s stories and put them down. This is my first time that I’ve ever done a book like this. My book The Creativity Gene was very research-based and this was personal life experiences, so it was a really fun challenge and to be able to take all these stories and know that we’re just going to bring so much humor and laughter to so many people’s lives is such a gift. And I loved the time that we spent writing it.”
Both mother and daughter indeed make the most of every moment.
For more information and to purchase a copy of the book, visit rosegabler.ck.page/laidtorest.