Planning and Procrastination

(Tribune March 2005)

This morning I caught myself spooning my instant coffee crystals into my cereal bowl.

It is frightening to admit to another "senior moment" like that. I guess life is all down hill from here.

The cereal bowl incident forces me once more to face a job that my wife and I have been discussing for the last few years. We need to plan our funerals. No more putting it off, today is the day. I will start by writing my death notice. If I do not do it myself, someone else will probably mess it up.

Contrary to what the Tribune says, I see a death notice as being different from an obituary. An obituary tells the world who I was and brags about all the wonderful things I did in life. The obituary is a news article. In my case, if an obituary is ever written, someone else will write it and it will be short.

A death notice is something you pay for and it is published in the classifieds after the used car ads. A death notice tells the world who it happened to, when it happened, who was left behind and where the remains are going to be dumped. Now donít get offended here folks, I am talking about me and I reserve the right to be as irreverent as I wish.

I quickly discover that before I can fill in the blanks, there are a lot of decisions to be made. As Noreen has been telling me for years, I have to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Where do I want to be buried, or do I in fact want to go that route? My wife wants to be cremated and she wants me to scatter her ashes in the blue waters of the Caribbean. Right! As soon as I try to get on a plane while carrying her urn, the security people will think it is a bomb and all hell will break loose. I could try to pour her ashes into a zip lock freezer bag but some zealous customs agent will think itís dope and I will rot in a Caribbean jail. Simple request, logistical nightmare. I think I will be buried. First decision made.

Where? There is a tough question. Most of my family is in Fonthill Cemetery but I now live in Welland. I have some family buried in Woodlawn and in Bethel. I think that I better call Gord Cherney at the Pelham Town Hall and see if he has any reasonably priced lots with a view in Fonthill Cemetery. Fonthill real estate has gone through the roof and I am not going to overpay, even if there is a view. Sharpen your pencil, Cherney, I have options. For now, I will leave "where" blank.

Which funeral home should I use? This is getting complicated. Drake & Barron was purchased by Don "Digger" Dixon years ago and most of my experience with funerals has been gained at that establishment. However, I do not know the new owners. I knew Mark McCormack in Port Colborne and always thought he did a good job, but I have been away from there for nearly ten years. I think my neighbor Paul Karner has a nephew in the business in Welland but Paul is in Florida and I will not see him for a few months. I should wait for him to get back. Lets move on.

Who do I list as being left behind? If the Tribune charges by the word, here is where they make the big buck. Wife and ex-wife, two kids, three step-kids, spouses of kids and step-kids, grandchildren and step-grandchildren, it goes on and on. The worst part is that someone is sure to be left off of the list and will be offended. Maybe I will just say "survived by loving wife and other persons too numerous to mention". What is the next question?

Open or closed coffin? This is a no brainer. I have made so many enemies in this life that they will all flock to the visitation just to see for themselves that I have really gone. If the coffin is closed, they will demand that it be opened for that assurance. Leave it open.

Who will be the pallbearers? If six friends survive me, half of them will be on vacation in Florida and the other half will probably be recovering from hernia operations. The funeral director will have to wave a fist full of twenties in the nearest Tim Hortons to hire enough muscle to get me in and out of the hearse.

Public or private service? Flowers or charitable donations? Visitation or no visitation? Where do these questions end?

I am getting tired of this. I need a coffee.

Let me get myÖcereal bowl?

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