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October 05, 2011

Call the Roller of Big Cigars

Call the Roller of Big Cigars

by Nancy Martin 

It’s been a month of family visits here at chez Martin. Lots of relatives have been using my house as a launching pad to visit elderly Aunt Nancy perhaps “for the last time.” Mind you, every year, family members make this pilgrimage—that is, every year for ten years, so nobody ever really takes that “for the last time” too seriously. After overcoming numerous medical incidents, Aunt Nancy is still quite perky.

But after the hilarious family stories wind down—we enjoy the way my brother Jock tells the tale of his boyhood hike in the woods with a friend that ended in a forest fire (just a teensy one) that he and his buddy completely didn’t see until they wandered out of the woods with the fish they’d caught but my mother still suspects they started (he swears not. I kinda believe him because although he loves the outdoors, he wasn’t exactly the start-a-fire-from-nothing type back then—I mean, c’mon, he was a doofus at the age of ten)---anyway, after the tall tales peter out, the conversation eventually turns to “end of life” plans.

Does your family talk about this stuff? Because what the rest of us are supposed to do with you after you die a big topic when we get together. I think our obsession with this subject is a result of there being only twelve places left in the family plot, but there plenty more than twelve of us vying for the spaces. (Although I suspect there are family members who have no intention of ending up on a hilltop with the rest of us for eternity, but they’re not speaking up yet.)

Cremation or embalming? Which way do you lean? My dad was adamant about embalming, so that what we did when he passed away. My mother, though, wants to be cremated and buried beside him, but . . . does it seem weird to you that they haven’t chosen the same thing? (My mother, by the way, is very firm about wearing her Do Not Resuscitate bracelet. If she has a nice, fast heart attack, that’s the way she wants to go. If she wakes up after having a stroke, I do not want to be at the bedside for the tongue-lashing, lemme tell you.)

Next decision? Is there something you want to be buried with? Like . . . a family heirloom or photos of loved ones or . . . your scuba mask? (I’m not saying who wants his scuba mask, but . . . his name starts with “J” and he might be my sibling.) Personally, I kinda like the idea of taking my chocolate chip cookie recipe to my grave.

A friend of mine went shopping for a suitable outfit for her mother to be buried in.  Seems the daughter never liked Mom's taste in clothes, so she found a tasteful black suit for her to wear.  On sale, too!

Or if you want to be cremated, is there someplace special you want your remains to end up? My sister chose to spread her first husband’s ashes off the beach of the island where they loved to go snorkeling. (Except she couldn’t quite commit to that decision and also kept some of his ashes on the mantel, and I wonder if her second husband regrets all of the first husband isn’t enjoying the Caribbean.) My cousin Maggie wants her ashes mixed with some kind of concrete product and left underwater to create a reef. (I’m not going to worry about the details of her request, since I am absolutely sure she’s going to outlive me. She’s very healthy.)

My husband wants his ashes spread on a football field.

 Now, since I don’t suppose that’s a request the Steelers are going to approve even if he has been a football official for decades, I sometimes amuse myself by picturing my children boosting each other over the fence in the—er—dead of night to honor his last wish.

What about your funeral? Do you want something tasteful or outlandish? A big noisy wake or a nice memorial service with poetry months after your demise? Here’s the poem I had read at my dad’s funeral. He was a pilot. Not long after he slipped the surly bonds of earth, Ronald Reagan also died, and the same poem was read at his funeral. Which I don't understand since Reagan wasn't a pilot, but my dad would have been pleased. 

 Aunt Nancy has already written her obituary, by the way. She doesn't want her cause of death listed in case it's embarrassing like choking on a ham sandwich, which you have to admit would be the last thing you'd want people to remember about you, right? Is there something in particular you want listed in yours? Or not?

Here's our only family scandal where death is concerned: Great Aunt Nelle wanted to be buried with her husband, whose family had a plot in--gasp!--a completely different cemetery! Years after her death, Aunt Nancy—who was very fond of Aunt Nelle--started lobbying to dig up Aunt Nelle and move her over to our family’s plot to be with her sisters. This turned into a big To Do. The whole idea blew my mind, and I must admit I came down hard on Aunt Nelle’s side, so she’s still with her husband.

So? If we find you passed out on the sidewalk, do you want us to call the EMTs to start CPR? Or do you want us to pop a bottle of champagne and talk about the good times? And what's your idea of a great place for your remains--in whatever form you choose--to spend eternity? Do you talk about this kind of thing in your family? Or is it taboo and therefore you take your chance that Uncle Milt might decide to bury you in a clown suit in your beloved Mercury convertible?

About our family plot that’s too small for the remaining family members? I’m voting to build a mausoleum so we can all be together and hear the same stories over and over.  Makes sense, right?


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Everybody in my family is pretty much of the "if i'm dead, do whatever the hell you want with my body" frame of mind. We buried my Dad, but my mom and all of us kids & grandkids are pro cremation.

Actually, if my wife goes before me and assuming I don't have any dogs to look after, I'll sell everything, give the money to the ASPCA and then grab my backpack and head out into the woods to run out the clock. I reckon by the time anyone would find my remains, there wouldn't be much left.

In the event that I get sick and fall into some sort of coma or some shit like that, arrangements have been made to speed up the checkout process. In return, I have made similar arrangements for others.

Of course, I don't really plan on dying. As soon as the cloning process or the android bodies or the braintaping for a VR life comes around, I'm stepping off the carbon based merry go 'round.

DNR and cremation here. Only way to go. The faintest concept of being hooked up to tubes and pumps and lines and a machine moving my chest gives me a *serious* case of the Wiggins.

After all the stuff stops beeping, one hell of a party. Lots of Rat Pack music REAL loud; I mean vibrate the windows a block away loud. If you have to cry over me, then do it and get it over with, but no one is allowed to be depressed or sad for more than a day, maybe two.

Want to remember me? Write good books. Read good books. Show the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren what a book really IS. Not eBooks or PDF files or LCD screens or audio books or any of that. Put a REAL book in their hands and teach them how important books are. That'll work....

DNR. I'm with your mother hoping for a dead-before-I-hit-the-ground aneurysm, but I also believe in euthenasia, so I may not give anyone the chance. (So I have control issues. Sue me.)

I'm fine with cremation but I also like cemeteries, both the above ground kinds that are part of our historical and social legacies, and the flat lands that are green and natural and save the world from yet another strip mall.

Doc, I gotta say I do not like the idea of you hiking off into eternity to get eaten by a grizzly or break your leg in a crevasse and die a long, lingering death after which you are eaten by coyotes, so I'm hoping for the android body option on your behalf.

William, I wish I could be there for the Rat Pack funeral, I really do, but I'll be long gone. A little Sinatra sounds good to me. (Nancy With the Laughing Eyes?)

Ramona? (Control issues? Really?) I love cemeteries, too, except the one in NOLA gave me a serious case of ick. I'm all for being buried under green, green grass where nobody can see--or imagine--what's becoming of my remains. Uh....I guess that gives me control issues, too, huh?

A little birdie told me today is the birthday of some nice lady in Ohio. (Happy birthday, Karen!)

Oh, Nancy, what a sweet note to read at the end of the blog, thank you for thinking of me!

It's Storyteller Mary's birthday today, too. (Waving at Mary, saying Happy Birthday to her!)

I grew up playing in the cemetery my grandfather lived next to, since he was the sexton (caretaker, but also he managed where the plots were, etc.). When my grandmother passed away I was at her bedside, along with a dozen other relatives, three generations thereof, and I learned that death is not a scary deal.

Not scary, but also, why do we feel that we need to claim a chunk of real estate for all eternity, though we've left this mortal coil? (And what the heck does that mean, anyway? Anyone?) At one point Steve and I had lost about two dozen family members and friends between us in an 18-month period, and we had a LOT of conversations about death and dying around that time. I have made my cremation and DNR preferences known to him, and to all three daughters. No hoopla, please. Have a party, and tell funny stories. I'll try to do my part to provide them while I'm alive, so they have some to tell!

Happy birthday, Mary and Karen!

My instructions are simple: Just make sure I'm really dead before you bury me or cremate me. I don't care where my remains end up. I don't really care what kind of funeral I have. I hope I'll be busy with other things, although I DO kind of like the idea of being able to haunt certain people. Gee, I could hang around at the wake or funeral and whisper into the ears of any attendees: "what makes you think that's what I wanted? Who picked out those flowers? I would have looked better in red. Who picked out that outfit? I didn't want to be embalmed (or cremated, or whatever they choose.) I can't wait until you hear my Last Will and Testament. Spend that $1.98 wisely."

What a great way to start off the morning, Nancy! Gee, thanks!

Happy birthday Karen and Mary! How auspicious!!

My dad was cremated and we're still figuring out what to so with our respective rations of his ashes. My mom wants to be cremated and have "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" played at her funeral, and she's already bought her headstone and has it installed in her family's cemetery, I think because they used to only let sons and their wives be buried there and that pissed her off.

Uncle Tony slipped a nip bottle of bourbon into the hole with my grandmother's ashes, there. I'd like to be cremated, and probably be put in the lake at Camp in the Adirondacks, but that's a long winter and some of the relatives already in it are kid of bitchy... Hmmm mm.....

Happy Birthday Karen and Mary!!

It's so nice to know the both of you through this blog.

I'm not sure how old this blog is but thanks to all of you who make it happen. It's such a joy to be able to share thoughts with others who love to read, and to meet (at least in cyberspace) so many of the authors who have given me such pleasure over the years. So, a Belated or Early or Whatever it is Happy Birthday to TLC!

Do with me what you will – I won't care, I'll be dead. The desires and economy of the survivors are what matter to me, not what my body becomes after I no longer need it.

If I die in some outrageous way, I think it would awesome to have a rollicking obituary. I think it would be awesome to have a rollicking obituary in any case, really. Something personal, not just the staid born to soandso, survivors include, blah blah blah boring old stuff in every obituary ever. You can put in there that I whistle loudly, swear profusely, dance inappropriately, sing raunchy songs taught to me by my parents, you know, that sort of thing.

Unless that would embarrass my family, because once you're dead, your life is really about them, not you anymore. What brings them peace or comfort or a laugh or a reason to cry is what matters.

I hope I have a chance to say goodbye, and I hope I don't linger so long that it hurts everyone *too* much. It always hurts too much, but sometimes it hurts *too* much.

Happy birthday, Mary!

No hoopla for Karen?? Somehow, I doubt that last wish is going to be honored.

Deb, you're not going to haunt TLC, are you? (Actually, I kinda like that idea!)

Cornelia, your story about the bourbon donig into Grandmother's grave made me wonder if the Queen Mum got a little gin in hers? I hope so, although I doubt Charlie was the one to do it.

Recently I paid for the right to be buried (cremains only) in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA, for several reasons. (1) My great-great-great grandmother, her husband, and several of her children are buried there; (2) I first visited there with my mother and my grandmother, who had been present at the last interment in 1935; and (3), it's right down the hill from the graves of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott. I know--that influence won't do me a lot of good when I join them, but at least I can count on having some visitors!

Sheila, talk about planning ahead! But now you've got me thinking about what writers I might like to spend eternity with. Jane Austen? Patti Smith? Hm....

Interesting blog, this morning. From Summer 2010 to April 2011, my husband and I went to about eight funerals, all totally different. We went to a Jewish memorial service where all the speakers told hilarious stories about our deceased friend, and people were laughing so hard they were crying. We attended a Catholic mass that was sad but lighthearted too. Another was a fire and brimstone Baptist offering in a funeral home, where the pastor kept asking if everybody there was ready to die.

But my All. Time. Favorite. was the gospel Baptist funeral service for a close friend. A Power Point presentation showing loving and fun pictures of our dead friend were projected onto the walls of the church, and people were singing, clapping and dancing up and down the aisles. It was awesome! I told my husband that's the kind of service I want...where people are rejoicing my life and having lots of fun. (And I want a similar yummy homemade feast for the people who attend the service. Homemade banana pudding...YUM!) Since my second favorite was the happy Jewish service, I think it's safe to say I want the people at my service to be laughing and smiling the whole time.

Cremation or embalmed? I haven't decided yet. But I'd love to be in one of the old cemeteries that have mausoleums, statues of angels crying over headstones, beautiful rolling hills and a little bubbling stream lazily running through the grounds. My favorite statue ever is in an old, old cemetery in Baltimore, where an angel is sitting atop a headstone, her chin in the cup of her hand, reading a book. Beautiful!


Happy Birthday, Mary and Karen!!! XXXXXXXXXX

My father's family is the extemporaneous poetry (limerick) and set your drink on the casket while you sing type. My mother's family is the "What? She died?" type.

Auntie-Mom made me promise to take her to a hospice that will give her a little extra when she needs it.

Me? I want my Episcopal side in charge, because I'm still mad at the monsignor for dumping CYO at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Marblehead just because we sang that song. Heh. And I don't want Step's sister Judith there because she'll film it and put it on her TV show and sing, "Ding Dong the Bitch is Dead . . . ." She hates me. And besides, I'm only a bitch to her."

In mid August my daughter was hired to run the office in a local funeral home. Dinnertime conversations are quite interesting these days and we've had quite a few centering on what we want to happen after we're dead. My father: no viewing, direct cremation and a memorial service at the church. My mother: embalming, viewing at the church, funeral at the church, and burial. My husband: direct cremation, no visitation, memorial service. Me direct cremation, no visitation, memorial service.

By the way, she loves her job and no she doesn't have to touch the bodies.

Oh yeah, just to piss off the 'Headers, I want my ashes to be buried in Salem with the French Protestant faction.

My family knows were the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney are. Molly (DW) was a little upset that I named my brother, but if he had to, he would pull the switch. I have been putting off where to be buried for a few years. I need to come to some agreement. Where my friend, parents (my mom is very much among the living. But there is a space for her next to dad.) and grand parents are is filling up. I'm not sure about where Molly's father is buried.

One thing is, if you are Jewish in St. Louis, odds are good one of Molly's cousins will be burying you. Two cousins manage a third of the Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis.

Tradition calls for a plain wood box and a shroud, so that is the way I will be going. My father never cared for the tradition of family members shoveling dirt on the grave. He died first. Mom, brother and I do like it, so it happened.

Happy Birthday, Mary and Karen!

I've tried to talk to my husband about this. He won't.

Happy happy birthday, Mary and Karen!

Great post this morning, Nancy. I vote for cremation, but I'm not sure where I want my ashes strewn. And a big party with good food, good wine, Springsteen and Sinatra blaring from the speakers. One of my best friends and I have promised each other that we'll make sure the church parking lot is full . . . even if we have to hire "fillers".

I come from long-lived people . . . my dear grandmother died "suddenly" at 103. I insisted that her obituary state that she died "unexpectedly". Which she had. So I'm hoping for the same thing.

I went to an airplane school. Copies of High Flight were in about half the dorm rooms. I love it. It was read at Ronald Regan's funeral because he read it at the Challenger Memorial Service. That ex-actor thing really paid off.

Where is Elaine? She tells some interesting stories after almost dieing from a stroke.

Happy Birthday, Karen and Mary!

Cremation. Full funeral mass only if my mother is still alive. I would like to have a sing-a-long instead of a funeral. I think I will put that on my to-do list.

DNR? Hell yeah. I'd wear the bracelet right now if it wouldn't freak out my family. This is not a body meant for rehab.

Happy birthday, Karen & Mary!!!

Please - Don't forget the part of the conversation that's about organ donation! PLEASE! My loved ones know that my #1 priority is that all usable parts get used, even if that means keeping me on life support for a day or two. After that, pull all plugs, cremate me, and bury my ashes in a mountain forest somewhere (preferably the redwoods, but I can be flexible). Note that my real preference would be to just take whatever's left of the body, bury it under a tree, and let me decay naturally, but that's not really an option.

For the rest, my feeling is that my loved ones should do whatever makes *them* feel right. Want to cremate some memento with me? Fine. Not? That's cool, too. I'd like to think people could have a great party when I'm gone, but if that's too much for whomever's left in charge, that's OK. I would just hope that whatever happens is about celebration.

After my parents passed, I realized how important these conversations are. I'm so glad I learned that . . .

Amy, I love the idea of a rollicking obit. (Can we play a YouTube of you dancing??)

BEcky, I want one of those banana pudding, singing to the rafters kinda funerals, too. Sounds like a blast!

Reine, I am astonished that anyone thinks you're a bitch. I want you to come up with a limerick for that step sister!

Peach, I want assorted jams and jellies served at your funeral. We'll bring fresh-baked breads and have a party. (And how long before Peach Blossom is running that joint??)

Alan, I was passing by a cemetery one day and saw a mob of people standing on a heap of earth, shoveling it into the grave. I thought maybe it was a Jewish funeral.....turned out it was the local Harley Davidson club giving a big sendoff to one of their own. An amazing spectacle!

A singalong for Kathy! Can we have a playlist in advance, please?

Kerry, what was I thinking--?! Yes, yes to organ donation. (Except nobody would want mine. More trouble than they're worth. Wait--I have very good lungs. Take my lungs, please.)

I adore that John Denver clip! I've never seen it before. Posting to FB now....

Wow! Thanks so much. This blog went from death to birth very quickly! You all make the day special!
Karen and I met through TLC, and we have both met so many lovely people here -- it's a gift!
I'm filling in for my book club leader at the library tonight -- any insights on _Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil_ would be appreciated, especially since it creeped me out too much to finish. I plan to be a good listener tonight . . .

I was looking for another bracelet story online and found this one instead. Friendship is what lasts and matters. http://members.multimania.co.uk/shortstories/uchidabracelet.html

As for the death, burial thing? Besides the fact that I don't really want to think about it, I must be part Klingon, because I just don't care what happens with the empty shell once I leave. I have already signed the organ donor part of my driver's license, and should really arrange donation of the remainder to a med school.

Nah, Nancy M, I would never haunt TLC! I like all you ladies way too much and I wouldn't want to do something that might distract all of you from your writing. Just because I wouldn't be around to read your new books doesn't mean that I wouldn't want others to enjoy them, too.

Oh, yeah, Kerry, thanks for bringing up organ donation. Here in CT, we have the option of signing up to be an organ donor when we renew our drivers licenses. I always check that off on my application, and all my relatives know about it.

With no children, and all my relatives scattered all over a bunch of states, I'm not sure who would be able to show up for a funeral. It's not like they're all going to be heirs and heiresses when I kick off! I do like the idea of getting together and telling jokes (and eating my favorite foods, which would probably cut down on the number of attendees, though, since I have a reputation for liking "weird" foods). As long as my friends show up, I guess I should be happy! My closest friend lives in another part of the country.She's a great organizer, and I ought to arrange NOW to put her in charge of things! The food would be good, and she'd probably send everyone home with party favors!

Wow, thanks for the good wishes, everyone! Because this was one of those "end in 0" birthdays, my husband gave me the best party Sunday night. 20 of our dearest friends/relatives helped me get over the shock. It was a fun evening; wish you could have all been here.

Cremation. Spread the ashes in the creek at our farm, one of my favorite places in all the world. There's a crossing, where we can walk across the creek (the largest in the county) to the 15 acres we own on the other side, and it has to be one of the prettiest and most serene of all places. It's no wonder the pioneer cemetery on the farm is just up the hill from there.

When I was in grade school a classmate's father had the funeral home across the street. Later on a colleague from the insurance business told me she bought her suits from that same funeral home, because she could get really great deals from them. I always thought that was strange. Even more strange: burying brand-new clothing, jewelry, and other valuables. I don't get it. At all.

Mary & Deb--This is what friends are for! Discussing your funeral decades in advance.

Karen, you look great for a girl of merely 30!

Happy, happy, Karen, Mary!!

Great blog, Nancy. My mom called KU Med Center to ask if they'd want her 95 year old body, and she was amused and gratified to find out they not only want it, they will be downright excited to get it. She says there aren't that many places where a 95-year-old woman can get people excited to lay hands on her.

Me, I want to vaporize. Not sure how, yet.

I do love cemeteries, though, the old-fashioned kind, of course, so maybe I should contribute my own self to one of them?

My parents were married 48 years and adamant that they wanted to be cremated with no viewings or services. As for the ashes they said they didn't care where they went but they were going together. My job was make that happen. Dad died in 1999 and when Mom died last year I brought Dad's ashes to the funeral home and they mixed them together. The ashes were different shades of gray so there is a lovely marbling effects with them swirled together. They got their wish and are now together forever.

My husband and I have told our son we want the same thing.

Nancy, how gratifying for your mom. Clearly, she's an exceptional specimen.

Happy birthday to Karen and Mary, and, yes, I've done the DNR and in case of my death bit. I have a deal with my son-in-law whom I adore to spread my ashes into the Pacific Ocean near the Ritz Carlton near where I live, and he would like to play. I must admit I'm very very cliched, but I love Robert Louis Stevenson's Requiem-something about coming home is very moving to me. I think a wonderful rocking funeral would be great, but it won't happen for me.

Actually, have been listening to a new playlist of 22 versions of "St. James Infirmary" as I type toward deadline, and I rather like what the guy in that song wants: "When I die, bury me in straight-laced shoes, a box-back suit, and a Stetson hat/Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain, so the boys will know I died standing pat..."

Lil, I personally think eternity in the Ritz Carlton sounds like......well, heaven.

Cornelia: Here's Hugh Laurie doing the St. James Infirmary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPj6Ze4Oy_Y&feature=related

Ever since my brother, we have talked about our wishes, and all agree. Especially if I am the one making the decisions. :)

Keep alive if feasible, to enable any possible donation of vital organs. "Don't take your organs to heaven...Heaven knows, we need them here!"

My mom and stepdad have both requested cremation, and then burial up in the family cemetary near my brother, grandparents, great-grands and multitudes and generations of other relatives.

My dad better get busy and decide. If he wants to be buried up there, and near David, as he can't have my spot.

For that matter, I wonder if my dad and uncle have ever discussed my 105 year old grandmother, and what they would do. I sure hope that they don't bury her in NC, as there is no family there except my uncle and aunt. Or, in El Paso either, as although there is plenty of other family buried there, it isn't likely to be visited by anybody..ever. So, again, maybe my dad should purchase a two-fer spot near my brother, and then it would be VERY easy for me to visit everybody.

Me...Donate. Cremate. Bury.

Happy Birthday Karen & Mary! And many more healthy years to you both.

I am firmly in the DNR and cremation camp. I don't care what happens to my ashes, if someone wanted to take a 'pinch' of me down to Disney World and put me in a planter that would be great. When my brother died there was no service or funeral of any kind, when my dad died we had an invitation only wake. Can't say what kind of service anyone would have for me and since I would be dead, don't really care.

Neither my dad or brother have burial sites so no family gathering of the dead for me either.

I am an organ donor and it is registered with my driver's license as well. When my dad was terminal he was very upset to find out they wouldn't take his organs because he had had chemo.

Debby, I blush to think I forgot the whole donate angle in this blog. YOu and Kerry--mea culpa!

Gaylin, I love the idea of a pinch of you in a planter at Disney! But why think small? Maybe there's a way to send you up in the fireworks over Cinderella's castle? I think Me, Margie might know the right people to arrange that.

Nancy, a fireworks send-off, sounds great to me!

I thought about it and I think my sister and my other brother took my dads/brothers ashes out into the Georgia Straight and dumped them in the ocean. I don't want that, the ocean is cold . . .

Hahha, Nancy! I'm always up to a challenge, so here goes:

To be Read Aloud at Judith’s Memorial Service: In the Event SHE Murders ME First and I, therefore, Predecease Her

Judith the witch, the witch, the witch,
Called me a bitch, a bitch, a bitch,
But all of you know,
She was the ho,
Who shot me.
And kicked me,
And bashed my head in,
Then dumped me in Salem,
Where I started.

I have my plot in the cemetery where my parents, grandparents, brother, sister, nephew & many other family members are buried. When my nephew died his wife knew he wanted to be buried in MO near the rest of the family and she asked if I would make sure I had a plot next to him (she will be cremated and buried in his plot). So I purchased my plot at that time. Once I'd paid for the plot, stone etc they set my headstone (it just needs the final date) which is a little bizarre. I didn't realize they would do that. A couple of years ago my cousin's husband died and as I was standing at the graveside for the final service I realized I was standing on my own headstone. I knew their plots were near mine but it was a little eerie.

As I've watched so many of my family members struggle through the last stages of the hell of ALS (paralysis,ventilator, feeding tube etc.) I am definitely on the DNR side unless there is hope for recovery. My family knows my wishes but I do need to put it in writing.

I hope that when the time comes my friends and family will share more laughs than tears and concentrate on the good times.

oops I meant to send birthday wishes to storyteller Mary and Karen.

My mother-in-law, father-in-law, and half of my sister-in-law, all in ash form, are in the same tiny plot. Sure makes things easier.

MIL died 15 years before FIL, and he went once a week to take flowers to her grave. Which was lovely and sweet, but I hope Steve would not do such a thing for me. Because I would be beyond caring. Give me the damn flowers while I'm alive and can smell them. Thank you.

Diana, ALS sucks huge. You probably know this, but I want to add, if you want a DNR order, make sure your doctor knows. Sometimes it also means asking family who might be there at the crucial moment in the future, to keep a copy of your DNR in their wallet.

BUT: To my own family and friends: One thing, though -- unless otherwise being dead or close to death -- being on a respirator is not necessarily awful. I have friends with a trach, who use portable respirators during the day, and really are alive and doing well because of it. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and as long as I am otherwise okay, I'd just as soon have a respirator and breathe.

Also to my family: If I haven't given you a copy of my DNR, you probably don't get the paragraph above, or you think Ive been witholding your annuity, and your name has an excellent chance of being Judith.

My great-uncle Charlie managed to take his money with him. He died in 1954 and in his will he left $1.00 to each of his brothers and specified that the rest of his estate be used to place flowers on his grave every week until the money ran out. My father and his late wife's brother were named as trustees and were designated to place the flowers on the grave each week. (They were paid $5 a month). I was 9 years old at the time.

Because my father was a man of his word flowers were placed on that grave every single Saturday until the money ran out (almost 20 years later). Rain,snow, sleet or hail be damned we put those stupid flowers on the grave every single Saturday.(Dad alternated months with her brother)After I got my driver's license I frequently was the person designated to do flower duty. We used the same florist so it was a standing order every Saturday. I can't tell you how many times I got there and they weren't ready regardless of whether I got there early in the morning or 20 minutes before they closed. I chipped ice out of the vase and scraped snow off the headstone on more than one occasion. As the years progressed my dad and the other guy started paying themselves more each week and of course the cost of flowers increased. If they hadn't done that the money would have lasted longer.

My grandfather and others could have contested the will but they decided if the old coot was that selfish they wouldn't bother. In fact I think my grandfather took his inherited one dollar and bought flowers. We always had to plan our summer vacations around flower month or else trade with the other guy. I doubt if there has been a flower placed on those graves since the money ran out. I could probably find that grave in my sleep.

Could I please just mention that the above Irish-wake, Dorchestr, Lower Mills type limerick I wrote and posted above hugely quick-like is not an example of my poetry . . . but it was really fun.

As my Mom said, I now work at a local funeral home. What an education. I definitely think people should discuss their wishes with the people who will be making the decision about what to do with your body is important. And if you get a chance, make per-arrangements with a funeral home. This does not have to involve money. We meet with you and write all the pertinent information that we will need for the obit and filling out the death certificate (and that is some surprising stuff that people always have to go home and look up or call their great-aunt or whoever when it isn't done in advance). Tell your family who you have the arrangements with.

Also, if your cheap or just can not afford the full funeral service, go direct cremation, no viewing, no obit in the paper, no memorial service. Nothing.

Another thing, you should order AT LEAST 10 death certificates. A lot of times more. Though it is good to die in Pennsylvania as we are cheap, only $6. Other states are much more expensive ($30 in NY!!!!!! for a piece of paper!!!!)

I could just go on and on about the funeral business now...

Wiat---! What happened to my last comment? Honestly, Mr. Typepad needs a----well, nevermind.

Reine, I love your limerick. We need to set it to music.

Diana, my mother has purchased her headstone, and it's already set beside my dad. Waht the heck, we put flowers on it on Memorial Day--why not?

And Great Uncle Charlie sounds like a passive-aggressive coot, all right. And your dad so stubborn that he kept his promise!

Peach Blossom, you are now officially a source of research info!

I keep losing my comments! Yeeesh. Anyway:

I just heard Steve Jobs has died. Now, there's a guy who deserves a big sendoff.

I plan to be cremated and have my ashes put inside Christmas ornaments so that my neices and nephews can hang me on the tree!

Happy Birthday Karen and Mary!!

I'm so late to the party! Yes, the late Harley Jane.

Cremation, hands down, after donating my body to science, assuming they want it. (I never assume someone wants my body, dead or alive.) Ashes scattered, 1/3 in Topanga Canyon, where we lived when my children were born, 1/3 in Central Park and 1/3 over the Seine, so I can hear French in the afterlife.

Happy Birthday, everyone!

Oh, Steve! Rest in peace.

You all realize that dumping ashes is usually illegal, right? Gotta sneak those ashes around.

Personally, I like the somewhat cannibalistic idea of cooking some of the ashes into food, using a loved one's dead body to nourish and give life to your own. But only if they're a loved one. OK, I am not so sure I really like this idea, but it is interesting as a tribute.

So I suppose when you go to the can after you've eaten, "dumping" the ashes would be legal.

I have been checking in on this blog about once an hour since before work this morning, and have made a comment here and there. However, it was only around fifteen minutes ago that I suddenly had an urge to reread Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One. Peach Blossom's contribution had a lot to do with it. So if I can't locate my copy, I'll head to the library tomorrow or download it to my Kindle. That's a book I love to reread periodically!

And thanks again, Nancy, for introducing this topic today! SO much food for thought. I think I may replace the person I have named as my health care agent, or whatever the title is. I now suspect that serving in that capacity may be too burdensome for her. Oh, decisions, decisions! And to think I thought everything had been settled.

Happy Birthday Karen and Mary!!

I just realized I made some typos. It's supposed to be pre-arrangement not per and you're not your.

I'd be honored to be a source of information for mystery writers. The stories I can tell about people after only 2 months on the job. I can only imagine the stories I will be able to tell after a year. Contact my mom "Peach" if you need me.

Happy Birthday, Karen and Mary!!

My mom asked to be cremated, then she said she wanted the grandkids and I to sing Row Row Row Your Boat in a round as we sprinkled her ashes in the Mississippi. When she got cancer she decided to donate her body for research. The facility was in Memphis and they interred her ashes there after the research was finished. I decided not to have the ashes sent back home because Memphis is on the river and that was what she wanted all along. After the floods this spring I've wondered if she got to make that trip down the Mississippi after all, but I didn't really try to find out. The kids and I have decided after my youngest gets out of the Navy, we're going to road trip down to memphis to pay her a visit and sing her song for her.

She was adamant about not having a funeral, but I told her the funeral wasn't for her it was for us and we had a fun memorial service with lots of pictures, a powerpoint and laughter. Afterwards we went back to the house and had a BBQ. She would have enjoyed every minute of the day. It's kind of odd, but it was one of the happiest day's I've ever spent with my family. Lots of laughter, not many tears. It was perfect. I've done the paperwork for my own donation to the same research facility and hope my kids have as much fun at my memorial service as we did at Grammie''s. But I won't make them sing to me, unless that's what they want to do.
Mom's birthday is next week and we'll celebrate with cake and a fun dinner with the family cause she would have enjoyed it and well, we all like cake.

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