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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.