Our daughter recently graduated from college with a degree in archaeology. Despite telling her for four years that she’d never find work in her chosen field, she has landed a job in, you guessed it, her chosen field of work. So, remember to shove that in our faces every day for the rest of your life, darling daughter.
On a recent phone call I asked how her first day went.
Me: Sooooooo, how’d it go? What are you doing? Is it fun? Do you like it?
Kid: I’m learning how to remove wood glue from a coffin. The guy’s brain is in the fridge. It’s from the 1800’s.
Me: Cool! It’s like this job is made for you.
And it is. My eldest spawn has always had eclectic interests. She listens to obscure Norwegian death metal. At least, I think she does. I always get the terminology wrong and then she corrects me, sternly. Then, I forget and get it wrong again and the cycle continues.
She’s well versed in history and can quote most of the cartoons from her youth. She knits and draws, she once made an entire chainmail shirt by hand. There’s a fondness for all things scary, she works part of the year at a local haunted house and has taught herself how to do special effects makeup.
I’m not very adept at knitting and I can’t draw a straight line. I don’t get her love of scary movies and I always forget the funny lines from Spongebob. Count me out for Norwegian death metal or whatever genre of music it is that I can’t seem to keep straight. But, my kid and I do share one morbid fascination, death.
I don’t know what her problem is, but it makes sense for me to be intrigued by death. I lost my mom and sister when I was young and I’ve had to consider my own mortality over the past few years. Plus, I’m just a little bit weird. That must be her problem. She’s got a weird mother.
Since desmoid tumors are so rare I’ve become interested in the idea of donating my body to science after I die. I also have a host of other issues including being a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene, having an autoimmune disorder, and having feet that seem oddly large and disproportionate to the rest of my body. I don’t know if the last one is an actual thing, but it’s always annoyed me.
My husband isn’t really on board with my idea. He just wants me to have the “normal” death with embalming and a costly casket six feet under. But, I’m not really on board with his idea, so I thought a good compromise would be cremation. He’s only kinda sorta okay with that route and anyone’s who has been married for any length of time knows, he’s going to just placate me now and have me pumped full of chemicals and put in a casket when I die.
Thankfully, I have found a way around his devious plot. Get it, plot. Burial. Cemetery. Plot. It’s funny, people! And that way around is my kid. Okay, our kid. But, she’s my kid when it comes to death because she is on board with my post death wishes. And my post death wish is to go as natural as I possibly can, that means natural burial, i.e. no embalming and biodegradable casket or none at all. And, if possible, a home funeral. Yes, that’s a funeral at home.
I have conducted extensive research in home funerals and natural burials. Since my husband will probably not be of any help to our daughter in making my death dreams come true and obviously everyone will be wracked with grief and unable to comprehend life without me, I’ve decided to make things easy and lay out all my plans for her. Get it? Lay out? Like a body at a funeral. The jokes write themselves.
So, kid, this is what I want you to do with me once I’ve met my maker:
- First, it’s common for loved ones to wash and prepare the body. I know your dad’s going to be a little squeamish so I’m cool if you just take me out to the back patio. Hell, you can multitask and lay me out on the lawn when the sprinklers are on. Then, just dry me off and spray me with some Febreze. That should do that trick.
- I imagine I’m going to be heavy, dead weight and all. I think there’s a skateboard in the garage. Fold me up and roll me around on that. As for the heavy lifting, I’m sure you can fashion some sort of rudimentary pulley system with Command hooks and a couple of scarves. You’re smart. You’ll figure it out.
- After that you’re supposed to dress and wrap the body in a biodegradable cloth or shroud. I would ask you to wrap me in my favorite Snuggie, but I highly doubt those things are biodegradable. I suppose I could be wrapped up in some newspaper like a fish, but who gets the newspaper anymore? Eh, just wrap me up in all my unpaid medical bills. That’ll put ’em to good use.
- Then, the body is to be displayed so everyone can come over and pay their last respects. They say every party ends up in the kitchen and we have that long kitchen island. That would be a great place to put my body. The dog couldn’t reach me up there and eat me, because we all know he’d eat anything, including my corpse. And you could serve snacks on me like those rich people who have naked sushi models at their parties. Might as well put me to good use.
- If the state I die in allows it, your guys can then transport my body to a crematorium or whatever next place I want to be. I would prefer a natural burial where I’m basically just put in a hole in the ground and nature takes the course that it does. If that’s not available, I suppose you could drop me off at a body farm where scientists could observe my body’s natural decomposition and use that information to help solve real crimes. I only have one request here, when transporting me, I’d like to not be in the backseat. I’m the youngest child. I spent way too many summers there.
Now, after I’m returned to the earth, rotting and whatnot, and you’ve managed to scrape yourself together from the devastating loss and infinite void of losing the world’s greatest mother, we need to get down to the dispersing of the things.
There’s probably three and a half dollar’s worth of change at the bottom of my purse. It’s yours. Also, the 8,000 pens. All yours. You can have my laptop, but please don’t look at my google history. At least half of those search terms were used in researching blog posts. I won’t tell you which half, so that way you’ll never entirely know the extent of my deviancy.
Give your father the hats you knitted for me. Now that I’m dead I can finally accept that he looks better in them than I do. My high school year books, burn them. Let’s not let the memory of that bad perm linger.
Continue posting to all my social media accounts as if I’m communicating from the great beyond. Write things such as, ‘God knows you masturbate and He’s going to have a long talk with you before he sends you to Hell,’ and ‘your dead grandmother told me she secretly hated you’ on the accounts of people I hate. I’ll leave a list.
I don’t have any jewels or land or savings bonds to give you, but there’s probably some candy hidden in my desk drawer. And there’s usually a half bottle of mediocre wine in the fridge. Have at it.
And, I know, I know, you’re going to want to erect a shrine of some sort, carve my bust out of marble. Understandable. I’m pretty fucking great. But what I’d really prefer is a Skittle mosaic of my face. Nothing too big. Perhaps billboard sized, on your living room wall. Seriously, I had a C-section for you. This is the least you can do.