So, what’s going to happen with my body after I die?
Early in my life, when competitive running played such a big part, I was all set on being cremated and having my ashes spread around Maine-Endwell High School’s cinder running track in Endwell, N.Y. I had a lot of great memories there.
Problem is, the school decided to turn it into an all-weather, Tartan track a few years ago. If my ashes were spread there they’d just blow off and spread on the surrounding grass.
Now what? I’m not really sure.
It was during middle-age that both my parents secured burial plots (actually, spaces in a mausoleum) at a local cemetery in Vestal, N.Y. My mom, Anne Figura, died first (age 51) and her remains and nameplate are on the upper level of the mausoleum.
I visit the site about once or twice a year. She’s forever, though, in my thoughts.
Dad, on the other hand, remarried. Three weeks before he died, he pulled me aside and revealed that he wanted to be cremated and buried on his son-in-law’s property in West Virginia. That was done and my stepbrother, Larry, put a small monument on the location where the urn was buried.
As for his spot on the mausoleum in Vestal, dad gave it to one of my sisters, who is still deciding what to do with it.
I have no desire to look for a burial plot.
Since being married, I’ve moved three times. We’ve lived in Los Angeles, Upstate New York, the Catskills. The idea of buying a burial plot anywhere just doesn’t make sense or appeal to me. Who would visit it?
I was fishing with a mortician in Buffalo on the Niagara River and he talked about how this generation is rapidly getting away from expensive burials – preferring the quick, easy cremation approach. The idea of expensive caskets, he added, doesn’t sit will with many these days.
“Most of my customers are older Catholic couples,” he said.
My wife, Laura, and I talked it over recently and both agreed that we wanted to be cremated.
That decided, what should be done with my ashes?
My brother, who is really into golf, told he we wants his son or daughter to spread his along some golf course. No golf course in particular. The children get to choose.
I have a close friend, who when asked about his plans said he’d like his funeral to take place at one of his favorite fishing spots in the Adirondacks.
“I’d like to have my body put in a canoe, have the whole thing doused in gasoline, lit and then pushed off shore into the lake,” he said. “And while that’s happening, I’d like the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” played loudly.”
A few years back, I heard of one woman who had little baggies made up of her ashes that were passed out at the memorial service. The idea was to have those in attendance spread them in places afterward that they thought she might have wanted to visit or be at. My friend decided to empty her baggie on the sidewalk at Times Square during a New Year’s Eve celebration.
I brought this subject up at work recently and one woman told me she’s decided she wants to be buried at sea.
“It’s all set in my will,” she said.
That’s the right approach – putting it in writing. The last thing I want is my kids and wife wringing their hands, fretting about what I would have wanted.
At this point, it’s probably going to be something outdoors-related.
I could have my ashes spread on a local trout stream, or on one of the islands at Lower Saranac Lake where we have camped over the years – or possibly on a high peak in the Adirondacks. Or closer to home, along the Charlie Major Nature trail near my house where I frequently walk my dog.
Maybe I’ll insert a little humor into what otherwise would be a sad affair.
Take Jack, an acquaintance of mine on Facebook, who posted the following:
“Not to be morbid, but I was approached by a funeral home to start ‘pre-planning’ as they call it,” he said. “So I’m instructing my loved ones that when that day comes (hopefully years from now) that they are to have me cremated in my blue suit.
“The one with the fireworks in the pockets.”
Photo: Getty Images