Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pre-Planning For The Future

Dave got a solicitation in the mail the other day from Neptune Cremation Service, which thought he might want to plan for the future. The only plan we've had so far is to have him go first, so that part was appropriate. And since cremators don't charge by the foot, he's already getting a better deal than I would. In the advertisement, Neptune Cremation Service points out that we can lock in today's prices, and that is a legitimate selling point in these days of rising energy costs. It's not easy to burn people thoroughly--we're seventy percent water, and it takes a lot of energy. That water weight is a big deal. If a woman succumbed during her period, she could end up smoldering for days. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often. Most deaths occur to people who happen to be nearby a woman having her period.

We also get mail from funeral homes. Most of them also remind us of the need to plan for the future, even though that is so much more challenging than planning for stuff that's already happened. Some of them up the ante by recommending pre-planning. But pre-plannig is what I'm already doing. I'm perpetually at the stage before planning, and that is why I'm unlikely to respond to this sort of advertisement. I am also not reassured by these outfits' tendency to use the word "pre-need." It should go without saying. People tend to lose a lot of their former charm almost immediately upon death, and something should be done, but you don't want to jump the gun on cremation. Some folks could use a little exfoliation, but that's about as far as it goes.

Neptune Cremation Service brought up some valid points. People move around so much these days that it makes less sense to place one's loved ones in a "local" cemetery. Which means "rest in peace" has turned into "buckle up, because your shiftless son is going to be toting you in a can from sofa to sofa for the next forty years." It's true that embalming and burial are a waste of resources, but cremation is not without its environmental impact. It would make more sense to get dug into the garden; it's not legal everywhere, although you could probably get away with it if you topped it with a little plywood headstone labeled "Fluffy." Better yet is to get staked out for the vultures, but people are excitable, and oddly begrudging of vultures, especially in your urban areas.

But wait! There's more! If we send in the enclosed card--you have to use your own Forever stamp--we can be put in the hopper to WIN A PRE-PAID CREMATION! which is no iPad, but I'd still probably mention it on Facebook if I won. The card insists it is a Confidential Data Card. No information will be released. So it's a little odd that they reveal last month's cremation winner. It's Charmaine Reed, y'all. If you know Charmaine, you might want to check on her to see if she's looking a little, uh, dehydrated.

Dave has cleaned out crematoria before. He used to be in the business of repairing and relining kilns and boilers. His mom sort of expected him to be an engineer, but instead he wore coveralls and scooped out cremation burners. Anyway, he's said many times that he wants to be cremated and have his ashes sent through a lime kiln one last time. I've got a plan too.

I want to have any functioning innards donated to whoever needs them (tip: go for my liver, it's a frickin' miracle worker), but then I would like to be taxidermed. I want my arms up and a fierce expression with big googly glass eyes, and then I want to be interred inside the wallboards of a new and totally useless partition in my house. One that the new owners will be anxious to demolish. They should probably have a pre-plan in place, too.

76 comments:

  1. This idea of staking people out for the buzzards seems like a pretty good one to me. It could be something like a national depository. Probably in some place like Utah. Next to the nuclear waste dump. Hold a service in a church with a fancy coffin where at the end the bottom drops out and you drop into some type of recycle bin for delivery to the dump. Shoot, that place would be so popular with the buzzards it might change migration habits.

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    1. I can't think of anything I'd rather be after I die than condor poop.

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  2. Sadly there are many people who would play along to see if they could win a pre-paid cremation. I don't understand....do they not get enough business as it is? Kind of like the ambulance chasing attorneys advertising on tv about how much money they'll get if they use them to sue. The poor unsuspecting sucker doesn't realize how much money the attorney is going to get out of the deal with no real regard to doing what's best for their client's best interest.

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    1. I'm just trying to imagine how, exactly, I would feel upon being informed I'd won the pre-paid cremation. Elated? Alarmed? A little funny in the tummy?

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  3. Taxidermy. Nice. i've just requested to be cooked up to a pile of gray dust, and left in an urn that says "Daisyfae's Ash Hole"...

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    1. I like it. Also, if someone doesn't write out a really funny obituary for me, I'm going to haunt you all.

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    2. OK now - THAT would be something worth winning, Murr: a pre-paid really funny obituary! I'm surprised you haven't pre-written your own ... actually, I'd bet you have already. Alternately, YOU could probably make a bundle, pre-writing funny obituaries for others.

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  4. I sat here for a long while trying to think of a snappy comment to put here, after all you gave ME so much pleasure when I read it. But nothing came up. Instead I am just saying thank you for making me laugh about dying...

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    1. You're welcome. I don't like any of the other choices...

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  5. We used to live in a town where there was a large sign for a cremation society. The sign was the kind that staff can change letters and numbers on. We always wondered whether the membership went up or down depending on # of cremations vs. new sign-ups.

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    1. Cremation "society." Huh. I wonder what their conventions are like. And the sign you can change numbers on? Whoa. "Over 1 million mold..."

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  6. Its the postplanning part that gives me pause for thought

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    1. I think that's the part that gets most people. Not me, so much, though. You know, whatever. How's that for a religious credo? "Whatever."

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  7. Murr, you made me belly laugh this morning, which was fun except for the pulling of the stitches part. I think I'll stay stuck pre-planning with you. No need to go all the way into the planning phase.

    My husband and I have this running joke, as I do not want to be embalmed, just donated and disposed, and he swears if I go first he's asking for extra embalming fluid and displaying me in the front hall. I'm going to show him your photo and tell him that's what he'll get if he does.

    Thanks for proving that you can make anything funny.

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    1. He'll get whatever he wants--it's his dime. Remember the old joke about the man who wanted his two best hounds taxidermed because he'd miss them so much? The taxidermist said, "so do you want them mounted?" and he said, "no, shaking hands would be fine."

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    2. Murr, that one finished me. Now I will wake up in the night laughing every time I think of the two hounds.

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  8. When I die I will be going to New Orleans. That is unless I'm not in perfect shape. If I am in perfect shape only dead the medical school wants to practice "slice and dice" on me then add me to the BBQ as I understand it. I don't care much how it works out.

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    1. Barbecue is another excellent option I'll have to consider.

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  9. There's a Thurber cartoon with a guy sipping a highball, talking to a lady in a party dress. Behind him is crouched a naked, fierce woman. He's saying, "Oh, that's my first wife."

    My husband and I are donating ourselves to OHSU.

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    1. Good idea! If nothing else, they could boil you down and grease the tram.

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    2. Actually, the Thurber cartoon is of a man and two women, and the man is saying, "That's my first wife, and this is the present Mrs. Smith."

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    3. On a more serious note (snort), see what you can do with this:
      http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/

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  10. Take my organs to help whoever needs them. That part is easy. The next part? Dump my body up in the hills for the bear, cougar, or wolves to have a nice meal. Seems like they could use it.
    Cousin killed himself last weekend. His divorced parents and two very young adult children are left behind. He made no plans and the white trash hostility going on amongst his parents and kids is surreal.

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  11. So if you win, do you have to redeem your prize within a certain timeframe? 'Cause that could be... y'know... problematic...

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  12. Hey Murr! Damn, I love the googly eyes. Can you get a cartoon caption of "BRAAAAAINS!" to go next to it? PLEASE?! I dislike the shift in the world of marketing from "ambulance chasing" to "hearse articipating". I guess you only MIGHT have an accident, but you're SURE AS HELL going to die. Bastards. Roth x

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    1. I'm holding out. The exception proves the rule. (And what exactly does that mean? I don't know.)

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    2. I've been told twice by people on different continents that I'm going to live forever. They didn't explain, but it was fascinating.

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    3. The exception proves the rule originally meant that if there was an exception then the "rule" was proven invalid. Now it is taken to mean the exact opposite, which is stupid.

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    4. Huh. Well that explains everything. There are a few more expressions out there that got strung inside out and now make no sense, but I can't think of any.

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    5. How about the ubiquitous, "I could care less..." although that is not really an 'expression,' is it, but rather a colloquial STD?

      - Col

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  13. All I could think of when I saw the last picture was that you really ought to make sure they file your eyeteeth into points ... the rest of your wonderful post was not lost on me, yet this is all I can think of when I see that picture!

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  14. I have only one reason for wanting to be cremated. If there's any chance I'm coming back, I sure don't want to come back to this body!

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    1. God no, I'm hoping to come back as a marmot.

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  15. OMG!! I was laughing through this whole post! Cremation would also be good so you wouldn't have to worry about the zombie apocalypse. ;)

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    1. I hadn't worried about the Zombie Apocalypse until just now, so thanks for that, sugar.

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  16. I haven't laughed so hard or so loud for a long long time. With a little re-working, I expect this could be your obit...

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    1. Oh, I already wrote that. A couple years ago. I'd link, but it's going to be in my book.

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  17. I did stipulate that I want them to recycle what they can, but beyond that, I don't really reckon the detritus belongs to me. If the people who might want a memento each take a bone, that would be fine. Or they can bury me, or fire me up, or whatever. The only reason I might state a preference would be to head off a quarrel about it -- people do quarrel about the weirdest things, when they're tidying up after a death.

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    1. Ssh. I'm trying to decide on which bone to pick.

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  18. We have been getting invitations to move into 'senior living' for years. Now the mail comes with those, and funeral/cremation information. Which should we chose?

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    1. Don't ask me. For some reason, even the AARP isn't on to me.

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  19. I got stuck on the name: Neptune Cremation Service. Why Neptune? Wet and burning don't work well together. I could see it for a fish and chip place. But a crematorium? Do they make an ash of you and then take you out on a boat to give you the old heave ho? With my luck I wouldn't end up roaming the seven seas but would end up stuck in that plastic island swirling around mid-Pacific or in a Japanese cargo container heading up to Alaska.

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    1. At least if you were in the plastic swirling island you'd have a shot at eternal life.

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  20. I hate to be the one to explain to Tiffin that the Neptune Society still does include disposal at sea of your ashes after they frizzle you......it is mostly not legal to just dump them anywhere and not everyones' relations want you sitting in an urn on their mantle.

    I also hate to probably be the only one who has already prepaid for my cremation and burial, but hell.....I am 85 so it makes some sense, especially if you are a control freak.

    I must also tell you that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR LAST IDEA and wish to hell I had not already prepaid for cremation. I wonder if I can get my money back?

    And, finally, dammit, Murr.....you made me wet my bloomers again laughing. You are amazing.

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    1. Go for it, Lo! What do you need with money when you're dead?

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  21. As an artist, when I die I want to be cremated and my ashes sprinkled in ashtrays at the Louvre.

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    1. Naw. Go for the performance art. Stake yourself out in the sun until the gases build up.

      You know, ashtrays is a good idea.

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  22. I have to say this post is a hot one.

    We went through this whole pre-death planning several years ago. Makes things neat and tidy (so to speak), so the children don't have to worry about what to do with us.

    We have even arranged where to be buried. We just haven't told anyone (other than the children). We don't want to scare the whole community.

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    1. Wouldn't you hate to know that the community was considering prophylactic action?

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  23. You have another option...you can donate your body to science. After they harvest what could be helpful to others, they use the rest for science study for upcoming doctors and such. After they are done, they will cremate your remains and provide 2 copies of the death certificate, all with no cost to you!! I wonder if instead of cremation you could be canned for critter food?? Just kidding!

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    1. As long as I don't go for feral cat feed.

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  24. The Harvard Brain Bank would joyfully receive your offerings. I am relatively certain there is something unique about the brains of Murr and her many followers!

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    1. Braaiinnnnnns.....braaiinnnnns...
      Mine's Abbie Normal.

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  25. Taxidermy instead of a traditional burial or cremation sounds great! Imagine what a great conversation piece your remains will make when guests visit!

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    1. You know, now I'm wondering. It must have been done, sometime, somewhere.

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  26. Check out the Funeral Consumer Alliance (http://www.funerals.org/); lots of nifty nuts & bolts death poop there.
    Bill

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    1. Will do, thanks! I loves me some nifty death poop!

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  27. "Neptune Cremation Service points out that we can lock in today's prices..."
    Cremation and "locked in" in the same sentence...ugh...that gives me the willies. Sounds like a Poe story.
    I kind of like the taxidermy angle, though. Been wondering how to keep the poachers out of the woods after I'm gone. A stuffed effigy might just do the trick, especially if I leave instructions for them to "stilt" me up a little, so that the thing stands, say, 8 feet tall. It's damp as hell out there in the woods, though, so I'll probably need a long-term maintenance service warranty.

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    1. You know, it's a good plan, if you can't manage a good old-fashioned haunting.

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  28. "but then I would like to be taxidermed. I want my arms up and a fierce expression with big googly glass eyes, and then I want to be interred inside the wallboards of a new and totally useless partition in my house. One that the new owners will be anxious to demolish."


    AHAhaHAHhHAHhahHAAHah!


    Oh My God! You SLAY ME!!

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  29. A marmot??? I am dying to know why of all the creatures available to choose from you pick marmot.

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    1. I used to say otter, like everyone else. But then I remembered I don't swim very well. And I'm not quite that adorable. And then I remembered those big fat fattycakes marmots waaaaay up in alpine country where I most like to hang out, eating all day long, gathering flowers, going underground and stocking their little cabinets in their little pantries and then sleeping all winter long. That's the life for me.

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  30. I want to be wrapped in a sheet (wrapped because a naked dead old lady might scare the great grandchildren) and planted. Who knows what might grow?

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  31. My folks were all organized and had prepaid for their cremations. They passed away 10 years ago, about 6 months apart. Mom first. At Dad's viewing (why oh why do we have those?) the lady from the funeral home came into where the five of us "boys" were sitting. She was in her navy blue somber suit with somber face to match and asked us if we intended to have Dad cremated. My brother pipes up "You're damn right. He made Mom do it so he has to, too". The poor woman did not know what to do and beat a hasty retreat.

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  32. Love this post. My mom died 2 years ago and I skipped the whole viewing thing, had her cremated, and just had a memorial service at her church a couple of weeks later. Half of her ashes went next to dad in the cemetery I never visit, and the other half got scattered in the bay at Cape Cod, a few under the bushes at the place we always stay, and I've got some more still hanging around, not sure what to do with them! I want to go the same way, minus the cemetery burial part. Donating the organs is good too, but in my case I'm sure the liver is shot from the wine...

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  33. I can't help but laugh the the your picture (the one with bulging-eye effect). Wait before you say yes to that plan, maybe you should your luck with portfolio optimization first.

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  34. I come back to this post as your conclusion both delights and scares the shit out of me.

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