Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck

Maybe it's more fitting that we should leave this world as we entered it. Certainly there is something honest about meeting your maker stripped bare. I say this in full memory of what I wrote yesterday. It all depends on what you believe, I suppose.

My friend's father passed away on Sunday, and while I never knew the man, I have been privy to the minutiae of his decline. Obviously there is a great deal of emotion surrounding this situation, but friend and the father had a great deal of humor about it as well. It's necessary, especially when someone takes his time, say fourteen years.

He tells me that while he was purchasing the modest pine box, as his father requested, the Mortuary Man informed him of various options for the casket. Some might call it festoonery, others simply flare. "Christ Head" was a possibility. This gave way to some nervous eruptions of laughter, and some renewed interest in the practice of genuflection. I'll leave the reasons to your imagination. And hey, don't blame me this time, I wasn't there.

Mr. Mortuary was concerned about the choice of vessel. Said it would be necessary to bend the legs a bit to fit him in; he was a bit too tall. Assume fetal position. Makes sense, really. I've seen those PBS shows of archaeological digs, and been to the monks' bones in the catacombs below Mexico City. Humans were often buried this way.

Later, on the phone:

"So, what did you choose to clothe him?"

"He'll be wearing nothing."

"You're having a nudist funeral?"

(laughter) "No, it's closed casket."

I used to think I'd prefer cremation. Now they have these green funerals, where you are interred in a biodegradable box. You can go old school, while truly honoring the injunction, "ashes to ashes" - fancy coffins don't allow for that. Cremation takes you there, too, but they have to superheat the fire to 8000 degrees or something, a gross overuse of fossil fuels. I plan on a low-impact death, another reason why I won't be padding my body with silicon.

Not that I intend to depart any time soon.


jt castleton said...

have i told you lately how beautifully you write?

"Maybe it was too graphic and confusing a reminder of the naughty bits, the place where ontogeny and the scatological live side by side. A physiological Scylla and Charybdis. The holy is holey. "

when can i expect the book tour? i will, of course, be the first in line for an autograph.

as for my rant against the mormons, well perhaps i should have kept it simple: genuine for all the right reasons, just a little crazy elsewhere.

my ashes, btw, will get a crazy sadhu send-off in the ganges.

stella said...

my ashes will get stirred up in an herbal tea and used to open the orifices of the heart. $80 a shot in chinatown...

Citizen H said...

While we're on this morbid drift of conversation, there's an oft-overlooked third option:

Burial at sea. No haggling with morticians over a "receptacle" and no nasty natural gas fumes. All anyone has to do is stitch you up in a canvas tarp with a couple of cinder blocks at your feet, and heave the remains over the side with some appropriate words said over them. no muss, no fuss.

Complete biodegradability to boot.

Or do a sick cross between cremation and burial at sea and do the flaming Viking-Death-Ship thing.

Come to think of it, that could make for a pretty cool after-party.