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Of Life and Death


We had a great time in Lubbock, even if temps soared to 107! I don't have to tell you that we didn't spend any more time outside than was absolutely necessary.  We met up with John's daughter, son-in-law and wonderful granddaughter who will be turning eleven this coming week.  She and Papa Bear have always celebrated their birthday's together.  We stuffed ourselves with delicious food at The Olive Garden, then headed to the mall so that our granddaughter could do some shopping at her favorite store as our gift.  It's been years since I've gotten to help a little girl shop, so that was fun and Papa Bear was handy with the credit card. We bought a swimsuit, a sundress, a sparkly pink shirt, and glow-in-the-dark fingernail polish... all mom and dad approved.  Then we all went to see Madagascar 3 which was pretty good as far as animation goes. 

No trip to Lubbock is complete for them without a stop at Barnes and Noble - a family of readers, so we headed there next.  No one was more delighted than I when our granddaughter cast her eye on a pretty hardbound journal.  A birthday is a perfect time to start journaling, and I'm excited about having another lover of word-crafting in the family.  That was  purchased as a special gift from me, with the promise elicited that  she will never thow it away or destroy it, even if she tires of it.  I told her how much she would enjoy looking back in it many years from now, and we talked about how fun it would be if she could read what  her mother might have been thinking about at her age.  She has already done some journaling for school and enjoyed the process. Going into  pret-teen years, and moving to a new city and new school, away from the place she has grown up knowing as home, will present plenty of opportunities for things to write about.  Maybe I'll be able to get her to share a bit of it now and then. Her parents are very hands-on in her upbringing,  sending her to private Christian schools and monitoring her friends/tv/movie/Internet/and reading content carefully. So far it has produced a lovely, caring, well-balanced child who is a pleasure to be around. We'll see what the teen years bring!

Papa Bear and I had intended to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" movie last night which has not come to our city cinemas yet, but we were both weary and heat tired from the activities of the day, so opted for relaxing in our nice hotel room instead.

This morning we headed out on a trip to the large city cemetery to see and photograph an angel statue there that has intrigued me.  This is the beautiful ten foot "Umlauf Angel", commissioned by the City and sculpted by CharlesUmlauf in 1958. Most often we see angels portrayed as female, but as you can see, in this sculpture the figure is more difficult to define as female  or male.  Note the feet which are anything but feminine.  I think this is an amazing piece of art, flowing and at the same time intense.





I love cemeteries, I have always found them to be very peaceful places.  I spent a great deal of time in earlier years resting there, and walking thru them reading headstones and wondering about the lives of the people who remains are interred. 

There were also times during my college years when, after a beer or two, my friends and I would go late at night and perch on the large concrete fence posts of the old cemetery rock wall which ran along side a dark highway.  Assuming gargoyle poses, we caused more than a few cars to slow down and then speed rapidly away!

Today, the thick green carpet of grass had me tugging off my sandals and luxuriating in the wonderful opportunity for contact with my beloved mother earth.   When we parked our car along side the cemetery road near the statue, we noticed that we were within a few feet of the unassuming resting place of the legendary Buddy Holley - headstone in the photo above. 

Papa Bear and I will not have headstones to mark a final resting place when we die, we have both opted instead to donate our bodies to medical science thru the Genesis program at the Medical Education and Research Institute.  We find the high costs of funerals placed on grieving families unconscionable, and by making this choice with a reputable program, after donating any organs which can be transplanted, our bodies will be sent for medical science study and training, and then within a year's time are cremated and returned to the family. 

John's previous wife who died of cancer bravely chose this option for her remains, and they simply held a memorial service rather than a funeral. MERI called John to  notify him when the cremains were ready to be shipped to him, giving him time prepare emotionally for the arrival of the little metal box which contained them.  He kept them near for awhile, then saw that they were scattered as per her final request.  The same will be done with ours, as instructed in our will. 

There will be no funeral or internment expenses to burden our families, no caskets or vaults, and no bodies lowered into the ground. No cemetery fees, and no place that must be cared for - since we know we won't be there once we've been set free.  Our remains, along with our spirits, will return from whence they came. I am at very much at peace with that,  it is the right choice for me.  

18 comments:

  1. I wouldn't go so far as to call it the day music died, but I do often wonder how much different music might be had that plane not crashed. I enjoyed this entire piece but that photo is just cool.

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    1. I knew that he was buried in Lubbock, Monkey, but hadn't given it any thought until we looked down and there it was, no big fancy memorial, just a simple family marker stone. I really liked that. Yes, one always wonder when someone talented dies so young, what they might have contributed to the world if they would have stayed, but then maybe that was never part of the plan.

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    2. While I like music from all eras, the music from the 50s was so much fun. I can sit and listen to it for days. An influence of my mother who loved the oldies station (their label, not mine). La Bamba (the movie, not the song) came out doing my impressionable yes and an impression it did make.

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    3. My daughter grew up liking the music she heard me playing while she was growing up too, Monkey, now if wonder if this is often true, if it imprints on us in some way. I agree that 50's music is easy listening, and fun. Though of course my heart remains in the 60's and early '70's, which I'm sure you expected. :-)

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  2. That is beautiful about your final wishes. You are such a thoughtful person. I think I might do that too - you have inspired me.

    The photos of the angel are just wonderful - so beautifully sculpted. I am glad your trip was so worthwhile and it is great to hear of another journaller in the famly!

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    1. I have always known I wanted to be cremated Selma, so when John told me about this option I was all for it. It makes sense to have your final act of life also be a gift, and at no expense, they even arrange to have the body picked up. I don't have to tell you what funerals cost nowdays!

      I love that statue, in a way it seems like someone human that has been returned to the realm of angels, not so much a guardian as one who is transitioned.

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  3. I love cemeteries too, especially the old ones. I think it's because back in the day they always built them on the least desirable bit of land, which was usually the highest point that no one wanted to climb to get home each night. Now, of course, they have the best views.

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    1. That's true Kellie, they are usually away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with beautifully manicured lawns, flowers left by loved ones, and such a sense of peace. Any strife that once was part of the lives of those interred there has been swept away.

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  4. When I was young and dating, my favorite place to go was the old cemeteries and NOT for make-out sessions. I always felt a sense of calmness reading of lives lost before mine. Now? Too close to reality.

    Joe and I will be instantly cremated AFTER the ashes of our furchildren are placed in our arms.

    We don't have any humans who care, but our furchildren did. So it's just us - together.

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    1. This is true, Lotta Joy, the older we get the more we contemplate our own mortality, but I also think that you and I have reason to feel proud that death wasn't able to snatch us away prematurely, we have survived, and look how wonderfully life has rewarded us in the end! I love the idea of being cremated along with the remains of your furkids close to your heart! And might I point out that you DO have humans who care about you now... here!(But I know what you were talking about and I think it's a beautiful decision.)

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    2. Do you believe that the animals whose lives entertwined with ours will be reunited with us in the spirit realm? I certainly do!

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  5. I love that your granddaughter is also going to journal - I'm thinking you may be her inspiration, Josie? =)

    What a beautiful statue/memorial. She is a lovely angel. I'm glad you shared her with us. I really love your thoughts on sharing your remains with science.

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    1. It made me really happy too Else, but no, I can't take any credit for it. We have not had a lot of opportunities to interact, though I hope we can communicate online as she gets older. I will have to spend more time gazing at the angel's face to determine it's mission. There is a bit of cemetary lore which states that if someone places a quarter on the angel's footstone at midnight, it will turn into the angel of death and pursue them thru the cemetary. I cannot see this tranquil countenance transforming in that manner.

      We've put a lot of thought into final arrangement plans so that our children don't have to make difficult decisions when the time comes. All adults should have a will, a living will (DNR orders), burial/cremation arrangements, and financial information written down. It makes things so much easier in a time of grief and confusion. Much of it can be done online now, so there is really no excuse not to be prepared. My father even stated what suit he wanted to be buried in and what hymns were to be a part of his funeral. Yep, that's my Dad! :-)

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    2. Oh my gosh, Josie, I don't like reading that little tid bit about the angel - I kinda wish I could "unread" it lol - she does look to peaceful to behave in such a manner!! *poof* "unread* =)

      We have our DNR's ready too, along with our wills. It's part of being prepared, something the military instilled in us anyway. Devin wants to do something similar to what you guys are doing and I was against it but seeing it from your side gives me food for thought....

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    3. I was quite taken aback when I first read that about the angel too, Elsie. It doesn't fit my image of the Angel of Death at all, but then maybe I need to rething my vision of what that angel might be, dark and foreboding as portrayed in media, or a being of power and light come to take us home. YOu are welcome to "unread" that little tidbit though. I have often wished I could unread something in a book I liked or something I've seen in a movie that just didn't suit me, especially in true stories of people's lives. I want them to be bigger than life and am sometimes disappointed to discover they are as flawed as me!

      Good for you and Devin for having your papers in order. Why leave it to loved ones to make such difficult decisions? I was against donating my body too, though I've always been an organ donor. But after seeing the process at work, I felt they were extremely respectful, even issuing a report on what purposes the study of that body served. I just feel that what funerals cost is obscene, preying on families at their most emotional time. If direct internement were possible, that might not be so bad, but I'd much rather have my ashes scattered than have my remains molding in the ground (not intending to be morbid here, but that is a rather disturbing thought to me)!

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  6. I was hoping for a post like this! I am happy you & John went, and that it was such a wonderful family weekend. The stuff memories are made of, for all of you, including your granddaugher! It is great for you two to be developing a writing relationship. Getting John's book written is really important now. And maybe it will inspire her to start recording hers now. Perhaps she will get into poetry too!

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    1. It was a really nice day together, Annie. I've had to work some at building a relationship with this daughter, so it makes me feel good when we all get together because we really want to and enjoy each other's company. Our granddaughter is a beautiful child that is easy to be proud of! She made her "PawPaw" a bright birthday banner for the fridge, covered in glued on pom-poms that have definitely have the cat eyeing them! :-) I do need to work on John's book. How I wish we had more time and energy at the end of our days and week! I wouldn't be surprised if she's already written poems for school, I will have to ask her! I am excited about the possibility of us getting to know each other better thru a shared love of writing and communication!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)