Taking your parents to Houston's National Museum of Funeral History might be considered not the most diplomatic of moves, but my Dad was insistent. So we jumped in my car, which is certainly not a hearse, and drove north. Using the freeways around here is always dicing with death but we arrived in one piece.
The museum, like so many of these sort of American places, is a tribute to one person's passion, in this case Robert L. Waltrip’s "25-year dream of establishing an institution to educate the public and preserve the heritage of death care." And he certainly delivers, with a sprawling tribute to all things mortal - hearses, coffins, funeral programs...you name it.
Highlights include the Mercedes Benz that drove Princess Grace of Monaco to her final resting place. The vehicles are the stars, really, although there's also the Popemobile His Holiness used on a trip to Britain (a white Range Rover, of course) and a Batmobile. It was $5 to sit in it, which I judged a bargain until I discovered it was a replica and was never driven by Adam West. There's a tribute to the recently deceased West too.
You may think this would all be a bit morbid. And you'd be right! I mean, the whole thing is about death, so, as my mother pointed out, I probably shouldn't have been surprised. Although I did spot one major factual inaccuracy: they claim that Elvis is dead! #elvislives!
We left, having discussed coffin designs, celebrating our not-dead state. Hopefully the undertaker will stay away for a good few years yet, although as I've just discovered that my Dad opened my pack of chocolate Hobnobs without asking, then left the packet open so the top one went stale, perhaps we should take nothing for granted.
Family holidays, a chance to make happy memories together.
Mum standing on the "selfie spot" in front of the Presidential hearse. Respectful.
George Washington's funeral bill, a bargain $11.25. Take note, parents.
Moving through the cheery exhibits.
Wait, you use a machine for embalming? How does...no, on second thoughts...
A lock of Abraham Lincoln's hair, cut from his corpse. Nice.
Cupcakes for Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday. He was dead by then, but they added his favourite jelly beans anyway.
I'll sleep when I'm dead...on a nice adjustable spring mattress.
A triple coffin. There's a story attached. Which I'm not going to go into.
You can't take it with you! But you can try.
A hearse of an entirely different colour.
This one will do - nothing too flashy.
A "tribute" to the Marlboro Man.
I'd better watch out when I turn 27.
And, the Pope.
Comedy coffins, to lighten the mood.
Exit through the gift shop.