|The Reaper family, Grim, Marge and baby Bradley (*permissions below)|
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The one thing we ALL have in common...
We'll never make it out of this world alive... unless you're the first one, of course. Some of us live too short. Some of us live too long. Many, like baby bear, live 'just right.' Longest lived family, if you accept the bible's account, has to be Adam and Eve. I think their last name had to be Smith since there are so many in the phone book.
Adam celebrated his 930th birthday says the bible ("Your wish will come true if you blow out all the candles in one breath... " ) but didn't beget his first child, Cain, until he was in his hundreds. And look how he turned out.
A Jewish translatation credits Adam and Eve with 33 sons and 23 daughters--56 in all. Eve lived about as long as Adam but it must have seemed like thousands to her. Imagine having your first child when you are over 100... then having 55 more. Longest lived is Methuselah at 969 years. "I can't believe it," said a friend, "you don't look a day over 900."
So the Grim Reaper does his job and "poof," you're dead. Then ya' gotta' get rid of the body. That's an earth-y thing pretty much out of your hands unless you have expressed yourself before you-know-what. (If you want to read something interesting on the subject, check out Stiff, a most unusual non-fiction paperback by Mary Roach that made the NYTimes bestseller list for a while.)
For those who know what they want, some funeral directors will do it your way. And 'your way' could be kind of unusual.
One woman wanted to be remembered as she lived. So after she died, she was posed in a room sitting at a familiar table decorated with miniature New Orleans Saints helmets, an ash tray, a deck of cards and a framed photo. She was wearing sunglasses and smartly dressed in a denim jacket with Saints emblems, a yellow scarf around her neck. There was an open can of Busch beer by one hand and a menthol cigarette between the fingers of her other, just as she had spent a good number of her living days. "My, doesn't she look wonderful?" And so she did.
Elsewhere, a paramedic was displayed in uniform behind the wheel of his ambulance. One man was posed sitting cross-legged, dressed like Che Guevara with a cigar in his hand. These are referred to as 'Fun Funerals."
A boxer was propped up in a fake boxing ring, ready for the bell. Then there was the biker who chose to be towed to the cemetery in a plexiglass coffin with him astride his Harley... and that's how he was buried. There have been champagne drinkers and guys standing with their life-long cane, looking as jaunty as ever.
But don't get the impression these are tasteless efforts. "The family literally suffers less, because they see their loved one in a way that would have made them happy... (and) they still look alive," says one funeral director.
Who wouldn't want to remember mother (or Big Grandma to me) in her favorite rocker? I had my emotional thrill (and I'm not kidding) when, at age 5 or 6, I saw my beloved great-grandmother smiling at me from her favorite chair--three months after she died! "Why Big Grandma," I asked with absolute delight... and I can still hear myself saying it, "What are you doing here?" She didn't answer, but held her arms out to me. I turned to mom, dad and sis, who were just coming up the porch steps, and shouted, "Hey everyone, Big Grandma is here!" When I looked back, she was gone--but she WAS THERE for me. I'll remember that, with love, and be grateful for the rest of my life.
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