I don't give it a lot of thought, although I did have a lawyer go over some documents recently to be sure everything is in order and my survivors won't be thrown into the street. However, I usually subscribe to the advice of the fellow who noticed that nobody has any control over his/her birth and not much control over death. "So, enjoy the interval!" he said.The local obituaries have gained my interest in recent years. The names of my contemporaries seem to pop up in those sad columns frequently. Some of the obits are far too lengthy. The newspaper is glad to print them because they’re profitable, but mine is brief, partly as an economic measure and partly because my life exploits weren’t as interesting as I used to believe.
The missus asked me recently if I had given any thought to what kind of farewell service I’d like. I don’t plan to be there, of course, so it’s immaterial to me. I suggested something very short, like a memorial service for a friend we attended earlier this year. From opening remarks to benediction the entire service ran ten minutes. Even so, the eulogist wove some light-hearted humor into the proceedings that warmed the hearts of the congregation.
Anyone yearning for a sermon will go away empty handed from my funeral. The casket makers will, too. It seems such a waste to bury a steel casket containing enough metal to build a small refrigerator. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Americans currently bury one million TONS of steel caskets each year!
My foster father was a New England Congregational minister and conducted many funerals in his day. His own did not occur until he was 92. I was not surprised that he opted for cremation. I once overheard him remark to a friend that our remains were destined to return to dust anyway. Why delay the process with costly caskets and concrete vaults?
We hear that burial at sea is relatively popular with those who can afford to have it done within the confines of the law. The U.S. Coast Guard permits committing human ashes to the seas three miles or more offshore. If one wishes his carcass dropped into the seas without benefit of cremation, that must be done 25 miles offshore.
Another alternative - one of the forty environmentally friendly cemeteries here and there across the United States. An organization called The Green Burial Council can supply details. (Google its website.) It’s uncomplicated. A hole is dug, the body in shroud, cardboard casket or other biodegradable material, is buried and the location is recorded by the proprietors. Nature runs her course and the final resting place remains in its natural state. No headstones or bronze markers. And no metal vases with plastic flowers. It’s reported traditional funeral directors are not happy with this "green burial" scheme.
I’ve asked my offspring to keep my ashes in a sturdy cardboard box or other suitable container until my lady departs this life, at which time her ashes and mine will be mixed together. (None of this side-by-side stuff for us.)
At some appropriate time and place we will be “sprinkled” someplace where we can help Mother Nature in her work. The missus says a rose garden would be nice. I maintain one cannot eat flowers and therefore we’d do more good in a vegetable garden.
We’ll leave it to our descendants to settle that detail.
May 20, 2013.
Ourselves to Death
Just Plain Stealing?
A thing to fear
Unstuffing a Lifetime
And Lead us not into temptation
The Legislature and Embryos
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive
What Fools, We Mortals
My Immigrant Relative
The Eloquent Pogo
Hucksterism Gone Wild