Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Gentleman Jim" Reeves Memorial

This memorial to Gentleman Jim Reeves, a country music star, is located on US 79 near Panola, Texas, and not far from the Louisiana line. It's a nice memorial, although the pedestal strikes me as a little odd. It seems to bear a strong resemblance to an electric razor.

The two songs I always associate with Jim Reeves are "Four Walls" and "He'll Have to Go."

The photos were taken in early March 2008.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How Many of You Expect to Die?

The New York Times has an interesting article and discussion on this topic today. I'm guessing that all of us know we will, but none of us expect to.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Final destination

In response to the question I'm occasionally asked as to what I want done when time comes:

1. Cremation, as quickly as possible following death. The ideal is straight from the deathbed to the crematorium with no meddling by a funeral director in-between. No embalming, nothing, just a shroud (an old sheet would work just fine) and a cardboard tray for sliding the remains into the oven. Under Michigan law embalming is only required if there's going to be more than 48 hours from time of death to disposal of body. (Laws vary from state to state, but usually if it's straight to the crematorium there's absolutely no rationale or legal reason for embalming to take place.)

2. No urn for the ashes -- a cardboard carton will do just fine because it's not going to be used very long.

3. No holes dug in cemeteries -- I want to be scattered on the hillside above the orchard at the farm in Herman. Or in the orchard. Use your own judgement on how far up the hill you feel like walking. (Note: be sure to let the crematorium know the plan is to scatter -- they'll blend the cremains finer when they know that's the plan instead of a columbarium or someone's mantel.)

4. If this seems too minimalist, I'm okay with a cenotaph at the Herman Cemetery. There is a way to get one at basically no cost (see instructions for the S.O. below)

5. And if it feels like there should be some ritual involved, track down someone pagan or Wiccan to do it. No bible thumpers.

As for the S.O., similar instructions, and ditto on the cenotaph. The S.O. and I both qualify for a military headstone. Go with the traditional upright marble tablet-style and set them up in either the Mannikko or Farm family lots. I'll try to remember to fill the application forms out in advance and will keep them stashed with the other necessary paperwork, like the copies of the DD214s that prove we're veterans. Both family lots have plenty of room for a cenotaph or two when there's not going to be anything else (like a full-size casket) going with it.

The upright headstones do allow for a brief epitaph, and I may or may not have one composed in advance. I may joke about using "all we are is dust in the wind" but I'm not such a huge Kansas fan that I actually want to be linked to that lyric into perpetuity. (Then again, it is a nice counterpoint to all the "gone home" religious inanities.)

If survivors really insist on spending money, I've always been fond of memorial benches in cemeteries. Not cheap, though, and maybe not a good idea in a part of the country known for heavy snow fall.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Who are these people?

I wish I knew. I found these photos in a stack of loose photos that have been sitting in an envelope for years. I think they both came from photos that belonged to an aunt, but neither one is labelled. They each have a rubber stamp on the back from a film processing company (Arrow Photo Services) located in Minneapolis, but no names for the decedents or hints exactly where the pictures may have been taken.Is this girl a relative? I don't know. What did she die from? When the photo is enlarged her face looks swollen, so either diphtheria or mumps is a strong possibility. The flag-draped casket below does contain one clue -- the phrase "Died Feb 5, 1939" is written on the back of the photograph. The flag suggests the man was a veteran, but again, who knows? None of the older relatives I've shown the photos to recognize either person; the people who would have known are probably now long dead themselves.