The Premature Burial, Antoine Wiertz, 1854
It's been a while since we caught up with Corb's mother and his grandmother, so yesterday, we took the kids over to Raynham to have lunch at Friendly's with them.
I've actually developed a bit of an almost David Lynchean obsession with Friendly's. I'm not exactly sure why that is. I think I like the faux 1950's sameness of all the restaurants. The other day, I told Corb that my goal this summer was to try and eat at every Friendly's in New England. (Sidebar: I just checked www.friendlys.com, and that isn't going to happen, soon.)
Corb's mother just arrived home from a week in Montreal, and of course, I had to fill her in with all the information on Annie's wedding. She made me promise to wrangle her an invitation to the new wedding location.
And, we talked about ashes. No, not Ashes, my cat-like daughter, but the ashes that you find in urns. As in, cremation.
"My sister Laurie is coming home in July," I explained. "And she was going to bring her partner Jennifer with her. My mother said Jennifer was bringing her dead mother with her, and they were going to bury her somewhere in New England."
"When did she die?" asked Corb's mother.
"In March, I think."
She moved her plate away, shocked. "Please tell me she was cremated!"
"That was the thing." I smiled. "Mom said she wasn't, that they had kept her somewhere all this time. Turns out she was wrong--she WAS cremated. And, that they already disposed of her ashes. She's not coming after all."
"Thank god," said Corb. "I can just see them bringing her on the plane."
"I've sat next to worse," I pointed out.
"My second husband was cremated," said Corb's mom. "Remember, Corb? They delivered the ashes to the house when you were there."
"Oh, God," I moaned. "Please don't say you knocked them over, Lucy."
"I remember," said Corb. He turned to me. "And yes, there was a story, only not that kind."
"Did you glue your hand to the urn?" I asked.
Corb glared at me. "Actually, they packed him in the wrong urn. So, I had to call them back, and they arrived and had to open up the package and pour the ashes into the right one. And my mom called in the middle of that, and I told her not to come home, but it was too late, she was pulling into the driveway. She enters the kitchen, and there they are, pouring the ashes from one urn to another, over the sink. My mother freaked."
"So they just put them in the urn?" I asked. "Don't they protect it all?"
"They usually seal the ashes in a strong plastic bag," said Corb's mother. "A little bit heavier than a ziploc bag. But nowadays, they usually hand you the ashes in a plastic case, which I don't think is very secure."
"Well, it makes for nice freezing, though, I suppose," I grinned, taken with the image. "Can you imagine? A little old widow, on her wedding anniversary. First she takes out a piece of the wedding cake that she's frozen for years in the freezer...then she takes out her husband's ashes from the freezer, places them down on the table next to her..."
Well, I thought it was funny. I probably laughed, a bit too loudly. The kids just looked at me as though I had two heads.
Honestly, I don't think I'd want to be cremated when I head off to the Great Beyond. I've told my son Theo that I want to be stuffed and that he'll be forced to keep my stuffed dead body inside his house. I said I'd arrange it so that my hands are placed in front of me, so that he can put a game controller in my hands, and still be able to play video games with me. He didn't seem very happy with that news, for some reason.
But really, I don't think I'd do that, either. Stuffing seems too messy. How about if I was really still alive? That's why I don't like the idea of cremation, either. I once saw a James Bond movie where...I think it was Roger Moore...no, no, it was Sean Connery, the last one he did...well, the last GOOD one that he did...where he was stuck in a coffin and about to face cremation. It didn't look very pleasant.
I think I'd actually prefer a green funeral. Just place me in a box and plant me underneath a shady tree. That seems to me the most sensible way to go.
And also, if I were actually still alive, it'd be the easiest way, I think, to escape. I think there's a good possibility that I'd be able to claw my way out of a cardboard box. A thick pine coffin would be a hell of a lot more difficult.
Just to be on the safe side, I think I'll attach a little buzzer inside the cardboard box. Well, I mean, a button, that I could push in order to activate a buzzer, sort of like what you get at a restaurant, when you're waiting for a table. I'd bequeath the buzzer to Corb in my will, and if, for whatever reason, I woke up inside the cardboard box, I could just press away, and he could come and dig me out.
Of course, I know there are those out there who will point out that this is merely a variation on a system developed in the late 1800s to prevent premature burial, which is where the phrase "saved by the bell" came from. And, you'd be correct.
For whom the buzzer rings. If it buzzes for Corbett, he sure as hell better answer.