The postcard came in the mail right before Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses, but I could tell at a glance it wasn’t from a secret admirer. It was some kind of reminder. Probably from my dentist or insurance provider. The next day I took a closer look. It seemed that someone named Ginny wanted to know if my New Year resolutions included making final arrangements.
I checked my list.
Add leafy greens.
Spend less time on Facebook.
Sorry, Ginny — not a word about cremation or burial, casket or urn, monuments and inscriptions — as you kindly suggested with little boxes to check off.
But now that you mention it …
This gave me pause. Was this grim reminder sent to me by mistake? Or am I officially of the age where planning my Final Goodbye should be right up there with scheduling a colonoscopy and a facelift? I am younger than the presidential candidates. (Well, the ones that actually have a shot.) More importantly, I am uniquely immature for my age, as my relatives will happily testify.
And yet, this unexpected postcard has me thinking. Where, exactly, do I want to spend Eternity? Certainly not in the cemetery where my parents and grandparents are buried. Once set in bucolic farmland, it’s now cramped by housing developments on all sides and under the management of a thug who makes Trump look like Mother Teresa. (If you don’t pay on time, he’ll dig up your loved one and dump them on your lawn.)
I think you should spend Eternity where you’ve been happiest. Like many women, I’ve been happiest shopping. If the King of Prussia Mall offered burial vaults, I’d be thrilled to take the Big Sleep between Nordstroms and Lord & Taylor. I am not the first one to come up with the idea. Comedian Joan Rivers reportedly followed through on a friend’s wish to have her ashes scattered in Saks’ shoe department.
Another place where I’ve been happy is at the library. Considering their current financial troubles which cause them to be closed on Fridays, I would think my local library would be thrilled to offer members the option of taking a permanent snooze in the Dewey Decimal number of their choice. As it is, there are patrons who appear to be all but embalmed in the Periodicals Section. I would opt for mysteries, snuggled between Agatha Christie and Ruth Rendel.
If the Board of Health didn’t frown on it, I would also be delighted to spend Eternity in the Baked Goods department of Whole Foods. Perhaps they could place my ashes in an urn disguised as a cookie jar?
However, I am aware that people have very different ideas of Happy Places. For Eagles fans, it would be the 50 yard line of Lincoln Financial Field. Phillies fans would kill to be buried in right field of Citizens Bank Park. Flyers and Sixers fan would pay top dollar to be a permanent part of Wells Fargo Center. The advantages are obvious. This not only provides an additional source of income for sports arenas, but gives a festive air to a funeral. There’d be tail gating before, beer guzzling during the ceremony, commemorative t-shirts shot to the crowd and, for an additional fee, hot babes in skimpy outfits with pom poms. What’s not to like?
Finally, there’s the option of the Eternal “Happy Hour,” having your ashes displayed prominently in an urn on the top shelf of your favorite watering hole. Or, if you feel it lends more dignity, having your regular booth at the corner bar converted into a crypt. In both cases, you’ll never have to worry about who will visit your grave. They all will, Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.
None of these options strike me as strange as existing funeral alternatives that turn human remains into pencils (engraved with your name and dates of birth and death); a diamond ring or fireworks — for those who wish to go out with a BANG! There’s also the option of being shot into orbit. I plan to discuss all of these possibilities with Ginny. Who knows? She may be able to get an Early Bird Special.