Saturday, August 4, 2012

A hole for one

(Warning- I talk about death and burials, so if this is going to bother you, please skip this post)

Due to a health crisis with my father a year or so ago, (he's doing fine on dialysis now) the subject of funerals and final disposal has been discussed several times. As with anything else in my family, there are usually jokes and sarcasm involved. Mock arguments that 'you love her better' because one sister gets the extra cemetery plots, which no one else wanted anyway.

My parents each have their own desires, which in my mother's case means comfortable clothes and her glasses go in the coffin with her. She had cataract surgery and no longer needs glasses but she wears them low on her nose, because she did so for so long that it feels wrong without them. She would like a simple pine box and with a wave of her hand says "I just want to go back to nature". I tell her that J can build her a box, and would she like drain holes in the bottom so the decay will go faster? "No! I don't want worms in with me!"  What part of decay does she not understand?

My father has his own obituary written and saved on the computer. I believe it starts with "BB kicked the bucket" and we just have to fill in the date. I don't remember any specific requests he has, although he hasn't forbidden a funeral service as my mother has. An introvert to the end, she doesn't want a big production, but I think my father would like  a service with some of his favorite hymns sung.

Last month's visit saw the subject come up again and J repeated his wish to be buried in the back yard. to which I repeated my standard answer that the next owners of our house would probably not appreciate that. Since he was in the Army, he can be buried in a veteran's cemetery, as can I as his spouse. He isn't sure that he wants to be in Maine: maybe he should go in the cemetery in R.I. where his parents are buried? I told him that since he doesn't want to be cremated, then he better be happy with Maine, because I'm not driving his body down to Exeter- supposing I'm still around and driving.

I have had my organ donor sticker on my license for years and am willing to have doctors use whatever they can, then be cremated. I don't really care if I'm buried or scattered. Scattering ashes is cheaper, so that's what I would go for, I guess. I also said I was thinking of donating my body for research, since that really would be the cheapest way out. No embalming, right to the hospital or school and delivered back in ashes after they are done with me. My aunt pointed out that there was a fee or donation required, as was the case with her mother.

So, as is our wont when presented with new information, I investigated. Maine has a program for body donation for residents that doesn't cost anything, so that's good. However, the only organs that can be donated are the eyes, so I'll have to decide which way I want to go. Assuming that they can be used, donate as many body parts as I can, or the whole enchilada for students to learn on? I plan on a long time to ponder this decision.

While I was in the Internet neighborhood, I checked on private cemeteries. Once again, Maine is easy- as long as it's less than 1/4 acre, we just have to demarcate the area, and let our town office know about it. There are also no restrictions on 'green burials" so embalming in not needed, nor is a fancy coffin. We could easily build the coffins ourselves way ahead of time- a regular one for J and a wee one for my ashes.
 This would be a good place- over to the side of the lawn, next to the hay field

 The big drawback is the hole. Contrary to popular belief, there is no 6 foot deep requirement. Deep enough is a personal choice I guess. Figuring a coffin is maybe two feet high, you want a couple of feet of dirt on top so we're talking four feet anyway. Now, I plan on this taking place not any sooner than 20, better yet, 30 years from now, so who's digging the hole? Not me or J, whichever one of us is left standing. Our kids will be in their 50's, and presumably still out of state. Ameranth did point out that Sectaurs always enjoyed digging our holes and trenches for various projects. And there's only 6, maybe 7 months where hole-digging is feasible up here. Maybe the best way is to predig the holes as well, as J has for our mean rooster. There's a little pit in the chicken yard waiting for the day he attacks again and J gets a hold of him. J thinks it's a warning to him to behave.

Hmmmm. Maybe that's the way to go after all.


Grampa said...

Yup! After I have kicked the bucket and crossed the river to the Glory Land, it doesn't really bother me what is done with remains. Maybe all the survivors could vote on it; that would be the democratic way! Just don't go too deep in the hole with extravagant expensive goodies! And I don't care how deep I'm buried; just below the frost line so I don'y freeze to death!!

Sally said...

Linda, I don't think it was a requirement that a fee be paid, it was a suggestion that a donation be made to help defray the costs.
And I already have my cremation paid for, Marlow and I paid several years ago. Saved several hundred on Marlow's cremation when the time came, should be even more for mine! And I'm with your Mom,no funeral please.............

B2 said...

I think it should be a fine wake and celebration of life.
We should be happy a person had a good life and that we are there to remember them fondly.
I don't want any money, time or effort expended on my remains when I'm gone that should be saved for the living. That is the way I treat life and it is the way I would expect others to treat mine. We are only dust in the wind when the wind settles we are back to the earth.