Shop ‘Til you Drop Dead

shopBenjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Well, tax season is over so let’s talk death.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but death is our common mortal birthright and I just spent most of Memorial Day mulling the subject with family members in a cemetery so it’s on the brain.

As I placed value pack mums next to headstones in a small Idaho town cemetery on Monday, I chatted with a relative about her life. She pointed just down the hill at the house she grew up in and told me how her father worked as the cemetery groundskeeper for years. While her dad manually mowed the acres, she’d bring her flock of sheep on the hill above the cemetery to graze then sing at the top of her lungs to pass the time.

Apparently the hills were alive with the sound of music in Paris as well as Austria in the 1950s.

It was a beautiful day and the cemetery was a lovely spot in this tiny Bear Lake hamlet. It seemed an ideal place to grow up, and end up. And that’s just what this sweet lady intends to do. She and her sweetheart of almost fifty years already have plots secured in that cemetery since they were both born and raised in Paris. I started to think how unique that was. There probably aren’t a lot of couples who have that in common. It sure would simplify choosing a final resting place though.

This got me thinking.

I walked over to my own sweetheart and asked, “If I died right now, where would you bury me?”

He answered, “Well, if you died right now, it would be pretty convenient to dig a hole and drop you in here.”

Cheeky, but we did have a discussion about burial options. While we do have a will and life insurance, we’ve never talked or shopped plots. Since we’re not originally from the same place, and we’ve moved around a bit in our married life—each place with its own sentimental value—we hadn’t really thought about where we’d like to rest in peace together. Though our teenagers think we’re geezers, we’re actually not old enough to do the complete death planning package just yet. But I have seen the process first hand.

As a kid I had a custodial job in a mortuary and “the showroom” was one of my cleaning responsibilities. I vacuumed out plush casket cushions and dusted sample solid oak body boxes to a high sheen for when folks came shopping for their death wishes. I saw little old ladies actually climb into caskets and stretch out to check the legroom.

All I could think was, “What will you care? You’ll be dead!”

But as my own skin reaches more and more toward Mother Earth, I think maybe because we don’t have much say in how and where we die, perhaps we find some comfort in choosing how and where we lie.

Really, the person with the last say is the one who writes the headstone inscription, which is why my children are treated very generously in my will.

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