They Fell In Love For Life, After She Got Over All The Death

Oct 27, 2017
Originally published on October 27, 2017 10:08 am

Lynne and Greg Houston met 25 years ago, when Greg placed an order over the phone for some lunch. Lynne was working at a restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y. Greg was working across the street — as a mortician at a funeral home.

"The door was unlocked, so I came in with meatballs marinara, and you were doing some kind of autopsy or something. And I remember I just stood there staring at you in your white gown with blood all over it," says Lynne, 55.

Greg didn't think anything of it. But Lynne sure did.

"You were coming toward me with blood on your hands going, 'It's OK, it's OK,'" Lynne recalls. "So I dropped the food and ran out of there."

Later, Greg asked her out to dinner. At the time, he was always on call for work. And while they were out, Greg got a call.

"I was like, 'I'll wait here. I don't want to go pick up a body,'" Lynne says. "And you said it was nothing to worry about. I remember bringing the gurney in and you put it in the back of the van. We were driving and you stopped at the red light real quick. And then that gurney, and whoever was on there, rolled right up between us. Who feels like eating after that?"

Greg, for one.

"Well, he wasn't going to dinner with us," says Greg, who is also 55. "I wanted to see if you would hang in there because that was my lifestyle. And if it would freak you out, then there was no reason to go any further."

At that point, a lot of women would have "run for the hills," Lynne says.

She remembers when Greg asked if she wanted to go to Long Island for the weekend.

"But you didn't say that we were going to a military funeral. You came to pick me up in a hearse and you said, 'We just got to go drop off the colonel, then we'll have the whole weekend,' " she says.

When they finally reached the cemetery, Lynne says, the gates opened and Greg "knew everything."

"You knew what to do and what to say to them and all of a sudden, I see you in a whole different way," she says. "To me, that was my weekend because after that it was like, 'How is he going to top this?' "

"They're all special," Greg says about his clients. "That's why I like doing an average person because that person's not average to that family. And that's why it's so important when you make arrangements to listen — you got two ears and one mouth, use them in proportion. Get them talking, so they'll find that, OK, I know I can live on."

Greg and Lynne married in 2001 on All Souls' Day — two days after Halloween.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Danielle Roth and Jud Esty-Kendall.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. Today, a love story that is just ripe for Halloween. Lynne and Greg Houston met 25 years ago. Lynne was working at a restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y. Greg was a mortician at the funeral home across the street. It wasn't exactly love at first fright.

LYNNE HOUSTON: You placed an order over the phone and said, can you deliver some lunch to the funeral home? The door was unlocked, so I came in with meatballs marinara. And you were doing some kind of autopsy or something. And I remembered I just stood there staring at you in your white gown with blood all over it.

GREG HOUSTON: When you walked in, I didn't think anything of it.

L. HOUSTON: You were coming towards me with blood on your hands going, it's OK. It's OK (laughter). So I dropped the food and ran out of there. But later on, you asked me out to dinner. And back then, every day, you were on call.

G. HOUSTON: Then, we got a call.

L. HOUSTON: We were at the restaurant. I was like, I'll wait here. I don't want to go pick up a body. And you said it was nothing to worry about. I remember bringing the gurney in, and you put it in the back of the van. We were driving, and we stopped at the red light real quick. And then that gurney and whoever was on there rolled right up between us. Who feels like eating after that?

G. HOUSTON: Me.

L. HOUSTON: Oh, my God...

G. HOUSTON: Well, he wasn't going to dinner with us. I wanted to see if you would hang in there because that was my lifestyle. And if it would freak you out, then there was no reason to go any further.

L. HOUSTON: But that was the second date.

G. HOUSTON: Like a Band-Aid, right off.

L. HOUSTON: (Laughter) At that time, a lot of women would have run for the hills. But I remember you said, hey, you want to go up to Long Island for a weekend? But you didn't say that we were going to go to a military funeral. You came to pick me up in a hearse, and you said, we just got to go drop off the colonel, then we'll have the whole weekend.

When we did finally get to the cemetery, those gates open, and you knew everything. You knew what to do and what to say to them. And all of a sudden, I see you in a whole different way. To me, that was my weekend because after that, it was, like, how's he going to top this?

G. HOUSTON: They're all special. That's why I like doing an average person because that person's not average to that family. And that's why it's so important when you make arrangements to listen. You got two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion. Get them talking so they'll find that, OK, I know I can live on.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIC BOMMARITO'S "KTM (LOAD-SHEDDING)")

MARTIN: We heard from funeral director Greg Houston and his wife Lynne at StoryCorps in McLeansville, N.C. They married on All Souls Day, two days after Halloween. Their interview is archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress along with the rest of the StoryCorps Collection.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIC BOMMARITO'S "KTM (LOAD-SHEDDING)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.