Yet Another Milestone I’d Rather Avoid

tombstone2

 

According to the saying, “A diamond is forever.”  That’s why engagement rings have diamonds – they symbolize permanence.  But I know a rock that makes a diamond look as fleeting as a Popsicle on a summer sidewalk, and that’s a tombstone.

My husband and I just bought cemetery plots.

This shouldn’t be a big deal – after all, I’m on our church cemetery board.   But I must admit the experience has me a bit rattled.   When you buy a grave, you’re coming face-to-face with some major-league, weighty truths:

  • I am a grownup. I can think of a million things I’d rather spend our hard-earned cash on: designer clothes, exotic vacations or cosmetic surgery.  We could have bought a sophisticated condo in the city or a beach-front time-share in Waikiki.  Instead, our secondary residence is a little getaway in Forest Lawn.   I’m hoping 57-year-old Peg’s righteous glow of self-satisfaction will eventually outshine inner-21-year-old Peg’s disgust at such a sucky use of money.
  •  I am going to stay here forever.   My parents dragged us around the cemeteries in my hometown every Memorial Day when we were kids.   We weeded around the headstones while Mom told us how the people under them fit into our family tree.  Now we’ve got a place for our kids to weed and recite our lineage.  Nothing tethers you to an area like being permanently planted in the ground there.

Don’t get me wrong; I like it fine here.  But I’ve always held the secret fantasy of living somewhere a bit more exotic.  I could see myself in a hut on a tropical island, living off fish and coconuts (supplemented by a monthly supply boat full of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.)   Fat chance of that happening now.  We’ve done the last real estate deal you’ll ever do.

  • I am going to be with this person forever. Most of us mean it when we take our marriage vows; I certainly did, and after almost 35 years I think it’s safe to say this relationship is going to last.  But there’s always that teeny, tiny voice in the back of one’s head whispering, “If this doesn’t work, I’m outta here!”  No more.   You don’t know the meaning of the word “commitment” until you agree to lie side-by-side with someone for eternity.
  • I am going to die. We’re all going to die, obviously. I don’t have any immediate plans to do so, but who knows?   I believe that life is a preparation for eternal happiness with God, yet knowing something intellectually and believing in hazy euphemisms is entirely different from coming face-to-face with the reality that I am personally going to shuffle off this mortal coil.  My essence is going to flee my body (hopefully accompanied by angels singing me to my heavenly reward) and my earthly remains are going into a box for the final move to our cozy, little hideaway, complete with pastoral views.

Any one of these concepts is tough to handle; all of them stacked together makes a reality sandwich that’s hard to swallow.

I’ve become more reconciled to the idea now that we’ve signed on the dotted line.  I can even see a number of benefits to this arrangement.  Snow removal and yard maintenance are constant hassles at our current home in the country.  When we move to our new place, we’ll be able to lie back, relax, and let someone else mow the grass.  Right over our heads.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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62 Responses to Yet Another Milestone I’d Rather Avoid

  1. susielindau says:

    Ha! You just did your kids a huge favor. Death is stressful enough without having to figure out a burial. I still think you should plan that hut trip. In Colorado, that means all-terrain skiing from hut to hut in the mountains.

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  2. Amelie says:

    Been awhile since I commented around here. I don’t believe my parents have thought of cemetery plots and they are only a few years older than you. My mom has always stated she wants to be cremated which is fine but she has never indicated what she wants us to do with her ashes. I honestly have no desire to keep her ashes in an urn and have to stare at them. Will have to discuss with her what the heck she wants us to do with them. I’m not sentimental over urns and ashes and I don’t want to have to deal with a dumb box with ashes in it for the rest of my life!

    Buying a cemetery plot is maybe not a pleasant experience but you definitely saved your family a lot of grief. My mom was the executor of my grandparents’ estate and the experience took its toll on her. However they did have the foresight to buy a cemetery plot for the both of them before they both passed away. So when the time finally came, we had all that sorted out and there was no drama.

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  3. When I go, I wanna be cremated, because I’ll finally have a hot, smoking body…

    And I’ll finally be WARM.

    After which, anywhere the kids wanna scatter me is fine. The only way I’ll ever see the world.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Al says:

    We did this several years ago. Ours are right down the road from Thomas Jefferson’s. I figure maybe he started another America in heaven and we want in!

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  5. Your kids will thank you. Imagine trying to deal with all that when you’re gone. Now they don’t have to! Thanks, mom and dad! I’m not into any of the death traditions. I don’t want to be buried and I REALLY don’t want an open casket. How morbid. I don’t want folks looking at my corps. Gross. Some traditions need to die.

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  6. I’ve been thinking of this myself. Have to find out if there’s any room in the church cemetery where Pat’s folks are buried. Just haven’t gotten around to do it. We’ll have to talk this weekend about such things. Not fun but you got it done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      Someone commented above about not wanted to store their loved ones on their mantel forever, and I thought of you and the world’s most completely furnished, furnished apartment that you rented last year. I still have the pictures I took of your book shelves and plan to write a piece about it one of these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. lexiemom says:

    Don’t we all wish we didn’t have to think about this? But having gone through my father-in-law’s funeral, I promise you, you are being a true blessing to your kids. I only wish my FIL, who was a truly kind & loving man in life, would have put a little effort into thinking about his final resting place & what he wanted for services for the sake of his sons.

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    • pegoleg says:

      My husband left it all to me – said he trusted my judgement. We were at the graveside services for a dear friend’s mom a couple of months later. Her plot is near my in-laws. It was a really hot day and there was no room under the canopy by the graveside, so we stood under a nearby tree. It was cool and shady with a lovely breeze and we could still take part in the prayers, as well as see my in-law’s headstone. I turned to my husband and smiled and said, “This was my choice. We’re standing on our own graves.”

      He approved.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    Love your sense of humor about this, Peg. I suppose it has to be done. One less thing to leave for our kids. I’ve told my family to give me one of those green burials where I turn into a tree. Not sure they’re even legal here yet in the U.S., and my family might have to do something different, but what I don’t know won’t hurt me at that point, I guess. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well I think you’ve done a good thing Peg, at least it’s done and you don’t need to think about it any more and as others have said, it will make things much easier for your family. Grocery shopping, check! Laundry, check! Cemetry plots bought, check!

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  10. Both my dad and stepmother were cremated. My dad, according to his wishes, was scattered in the Western PA mountains. I gave my stepmother’s ashes to her niece who was going to bury them with Louise’s mother and father far away in Ohio. My mother had a traditional burial in PA 1965 and I have visited her grave once since then. I don’t miss being able to visit them – their memory is vivid in my mind and I know they spirits are soaring in the heavens. I get it that other folks are different and take comfort in visiting departed loved ones. It was just never important to me. Go figure…

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    • pegoleg says:

      Different strokes, right? My dad is originally from Florida but has lived in Michigan most of his life. He had a condo down there that he inherited and about 5 years ago he and my mom had to sell it – they just couldn’t manage snow-birding anymore because of age and ill health. He’s the last of his family who had a place there. I think one of the toughest things for him was leaving all his relatives down there in the cemetery, with nobody to visit them or care anymore.

      Different strokes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Awwww…that made me sad. 😦 I can see if that was something that was important to you and you were “carrying” the responsibility, it would be very difficult. My grandparents (whose graves I’ve never visited – both had passed by the time I was born) are in a cemetery that doesn’t have upkeep as part of the deal so my uncle had been paying the yearly fee until he passed 7 or 8 years ago. Since then, my cousin (adopted!) has been paying, but last year we started spreading it out over all the grandkids (8 of us). The “baby” is 62… Once we are all gone, I’m wondering what will happen.

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  11. List of X says:

    Personally, I’m going with cremation, because means I could be buried, scattered somewhere, planted as a tree, loaded into a firework and blown up in the night sky, launched into space, pressed into a diamond, and so on. With ashes, the possibilities are endless and not at all mutually exclusive.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You done good. Like someone else said, it’s better your kids don’t have to deal it after you die. Personally, I’m all for cremation. My dad was in an open casket (his mother insisted) but they neglected to tell me or my mom. To say it was traumatic is an understatement. I get why some people prefer it as a form of closure but uh… no thanks. I find funerals agony to attend. But I love visiting cemetaries. By the way, I am the office manager at an Episcopal Church now and I’ve already had to help with two funerals! I am not from the church so organizing each service order has been very challenging. (I don’t really identify with any specific religion beside maybe Buddhism…)

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    • pegoleg says:

      Really, Darla? How cool about your new job! I bet you’ll be great at it. You don’t need to be up on dogma, just have a kind heart for all the vulnerable people who often come for help, which you have. Also good to have patience and a thick skin for all the assholes.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Your sense of humour on this topic makes it much more palatable for most, Peg, and that has so many talking – well done!
    My dad was cremated and asked that his ashes be split in 3 locations with friends and family. My cousin and I had a great giggle when despite all our efforts to the contrary his ashes came back at us in the wind as we tossed them to the waves. It was the same thing that happened to my dad and his sister (my cousin’s mom) when they scattered my Grammma’s ashes. Go figure.
    My mom has just asked my brother and I about having a stone in her family plot, which is nowhere near where I live (but near where I am from). Neither my brother nor I have kids so this will be the one place we would be mentioned in stone, so to speak. More for my mom’s sake than mine, I have agreed to a mention so that the family legacy is complete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      That’s my main fear about scattering ashes. “damn! I got Aunt Myrtle in my eye!”

      It’s kind of a nice thought that you’ll be immortalized that way, isn’t it? And it makes your mom happy, so good plan.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. 21 year old me is sitting here trying not to think about the future. At this point, if I can make it through the next two weeks of the semester without “shuffling off my mortal coil” then I’ll be happy.

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  15. Elyse says:

    Like everybody else, I think you did the right thing. I should to (but won’t for a while, I’m sure because ewwww). My brother and I had to choose our dad’s casket which was horrible. My brother wanted top of the line — I managed to keep all of us from spending a fortune when my dad was a simple-pine loving man (literally he loved the wood, the smell of the trees …) So that’s next on your list, Peg.

    I do loove your sense of humor about this. We’re going through this with my mother in law. John wants to take her out for pizza and then to visit graveyards next weekend. Seems like at a minimum we should eat something healthier first.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Ha! Pizza and a grave; the new date night for us Boomers. I so agree about the caskets. People feel that somehow spending a ton means you loved them a ton – huge waste. I hope my family goes for the $500 option: a big roll of Saran Wrap.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Jackie says:

    Seems a missed opportunity to not just combine real adulty needs with less responsible indulgences and just have put the plot on a tropical island, no? Then you could finally get what’s yours in death if not in life, and the kids could actually enjoy the future visits 😉

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