Funeral Plans

The writing prompt was straight forward: we had ten minutes to list the things we would put in a time capsule. And then, Bar Scott, the workshop leader, asked us if we were filling our time capsule with personal mementos, or… were we (thinking ahead to an archeological dig some centuries in the future) filling our capsule with universal items specific to the current time period? It was a great warm-up exercise.

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Time and Tides Wait for No Man

Over the years, I’ve thought that I’d like to follow the custom of mourners bringing useful gifts to the gravesite. So during the writing exercise, I veered off the time capsule idea and listed items that I might appreciate on my trip to the next world. My list included the following. (If any of my readers plan on coming to my gravesite service, you might want to match your casket gifts to my suggestions.)

I want coffee – a dark robust blend. I’m partial to Pueblo’s Solar Roast. (And if you think I’m being too picky, please remember that I’m on my way out. I won’t be asking you for anything more at a later date.) I’ll need notebooks, pens and pencils. I’ll want my computer – don’t forget the power cord. A couple of bottles of Port would not be remiss – one Ruby and another Tawny.

Hopefully, someone will bring my recipe box – not that I’ll be doing a lot of cooking, but I’m thinking it would be lovely to go through my favorite recipes and vicariously savor the food and the company of those dining at my table. If anyone remembers, I’d like someone to lay my wedding dress in the casket – the dress doesn’t fit any more, but it carries a wealth of memories.

When I was younger and the age when I might have worn stilettos, I didn’t. Regrettably, I was too wholesome. Well, It’s never too late. Please send me off with a pair or two  of seriously high heels. Don’t forget to bring a good collection of family and travel photos – again, something to remind me of the sweet days. It is entirely possible that I may experience some dark days, so a dozen or so bars of Snickers (my drug of choice) would be most welcome. And to keep me company, I’d like the ashes of my beloved dog, Oogie. And maybe as was common in Victorian times (should I have been sleeping when interred and want to draw attention to the fact that I’m not dead) place a bell in the casket so I can draw attention to the fact that I am still alive.

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The entrance sign was designed by Patrick Lynch and executed by the Industrial Arts students attending C-1 school.

 

All this thinking about funeral practices led me to buying two plots in the Rosita Cemetery yesterday. Mark and I had talked about doing so for years, but yesterday I actually put our money down. The cemetery is lovely – rolling hills, Century plants, Ponderosa, the heady scent of pine, and history close enough to touch. The cemetery is a park of sorts with widely spaced, serene plots.

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This is our site. I imagine a bench under the three pines and a bird bath. We will be living next to Patrick and Judy Lynch. I have visions of elbowing them in the late afternoon to ask if they want to join us for Happy Hour.

The town of Rosita (5.8 miles east on CR 328 off Highway 69 south of Westcliffe) goes back to the discovery of silver in 1872. By 1878 the boom town population had swollen to 1,500. However, the mining quickly played out and after a bitter, four-year fight, Silver Cliff took the county seat away from Rosita in 1886. Today, Wikipedia refers to Rosita as a ‘ghost town,’ but I’m not so sure those living there would buy that designation.

The Rosita Cemetery is rich in history and personality. Many of the stones date to the 1880s, and it is heart breaking to see stone after stone marking child after child who died an untimely death. My heart seizes as I read the child’s date of death and beneath the inscription to read the number of years, the number of months, and the number of days.

 

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Arthur  8 months 19 days.

Seeing the number of days chiseled  in stone reminds me that we who are living fail to count the days. How many of us live in a twilight zone in which every day is a lot like the one that came before? Seeing all the old gravestones is a reminder to make every day count.

Thinking that the Ancient Egyptians brought gifts to their tombs, I did a bit of research and found myself reading about The Book of the Dead. Not that the book is a book per se; rather, it a collection of writings on papyrus and hieroglyphics found at burial sites. In particular, I was taken with Ani’s Papyrus (1250 B.C.) which is full of hymns and speeches to get Ani’s soul past the judgements of the underworld. Prior to embalming, all soft organs were removed with the exception of  the heart which was saved so that it could be weighed.

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The heart is on the left of the scales; the feather on the right.

In Ani’s case, his heart weighed the equivalent of a feather.

“The heart of Osiris hath in very truth been weighed and his heart-soul hath borne testimony on his behalf, his heart hath been found right in the trial of the Great Balance. There hath not been found any wickedness in him… and he hath not set his mouth in motion with words of evil whilst he was upon earth.”

I LOVE THIS!! “He hath not set his mouth in motion with words of evil.

I guess I had better not set my mouth in motion. Not if I want safe passage.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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6 Responses to Funeral Plans

  1. H Brent Bruser says:

    I’ll bring pencils, with erasers, and a sharpener plus two wine glasses.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • timeout2 says:

      That’s it! No books… no wine… no dessert? Obviously my list doesn’t cover all the bases. I could make a bigger list, or I could just lie back and be surprised. Thank you for coming.

  2. Caroline Vornberg says:

    Intriguing read! You brought in quite a few references for such a quick and easy read!
    Thanks for educating us along with entertaining us!
    I’ll bring wine. Count on it!

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Caroline, I think that I forgot to mention that I will need some books. Use your own judgement – a little of this and a little of that. Used books would be good – I really prefer books in which some reader has underlined his favorite passages or made margin notes. I’ll be craving communication once I’m on the other side. And thanks for the wine – anything will do – MD 20/20 might be fun.

  3. Maria Weber says:

    Truly inspired writing! Good for you – buying your plots. I liked the Egyptian reference too. Your last line was a zinger. Brava! Maria

  4. timeout2 says:

    Jackie Hobby, president of the Rosita Cemetery Historical Society (I may not have that quite right) said that when men die first, women get on with it; however, when women die first, the men are lost. And in closing, she said that I should order the stones too. I’ve been a bit surprised at how many think that buying the plots is premature and depressing. Yes, I know how to do DARK, but choosing such a beautiful site and knowing my neighbors (either living there already or planning on coming) feels so comforting. As for having a heart as light as a feather – a good reminder to work on it. xo

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