When I was younger, I thought operations and medications were the only subjects older people talked about. As I “matured,” I realized that I was wrong. Sometimes we talk about our final wishes–how we want our earthly remains to be put to rest when we leave them behind. A couple of Sundays ago, several of us went to lunch after church. By the time our meal was finished, we had solved the world’s problems, and our conversation drifted to more practical matters like the choice between burial and cremation.
One couple, while they took part in the discussion, remained non-committal about their personal plans. David plans to be buried at Uncle Sam’s expense, thanks to his eleven years of service in the Navy. The rest of us plan to be cremated.
The wife of the first couple cringed at the mention of cremation. “I just can’t stand the thought of it, because burns are so painful.” We all teased her for worrying about something she wouldn’t be aware of, but feelings about such things are valid if not always logical.
I had not given much thought to the subject until several years ago when my son asked me to fill out something called Five Wishes. It’s a document similar to a living will or an advanced directive, but with more detail. In the section that asks about funeral wishes, I asked for a simple cremation, for a tree to be planted in my memory, and for my ashes to be scattered around it.
The “cremation” couple had similar wishes. The wife wanted her ashes scattered in her garden, and the husband wanted his scattered in their pond so the catfish could eat them.
“Ewww,” said his wife. “Then if we ate the fish, it would be like cannibalism!”
“It would be the same thing if we put yours in the garden,” he reasoned.
Getting into the swing of the conversion, our squeamish friend had a suggestion. “I know,” she said. “We can put them in your grandson’s sand box. Then his mom can just say, ‘Run on outside and play with Grandma!’”
Seniors may, at times, dwell on the darker aspects of life–but at least we have a sense of humor about it.
NOTE: For more information about Five Wishes, contact Aging with Dignity at 1-888-5947437 or www.agingwithdignity.org.