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Ideals for life after death are a bit stuffy

POSTED: October 17, 2010 1:30 a.m.

I have struggled at times with what I want them to do with my body after I breathe my last.

Growing up in Social Circle, there was only a small funeral home and many folks chose to use one of the funeral homes in Covington or Monroe, each about 10 miles in opposite directions.

This was at the end of the era when they brought the body out to the house and set up the casket in the living room. Folks would eat fried chicken and potato salad in the dining room, while the departed rested in the living room.

Although my undertaker friends tell me that there is a set of those floor lamps with pink bulbs hidden away in a storage room, my wife has assured me that I am not coming home in a casket, an urn or any other vessel.

A few years ago, I went with radio legend Joel Williams to visit a faithful listener who had died in a neighboring county. It was the last time I saw anyone laid out in the living room. The home was a small house carved out of a hillside. That undertaker did a good day’s work bringing that dear lady back to the house.

I was driving down a two-lane road in Southeast Georgia last week and I saw a sign that may have answered my long-standing dilemma of my post-mortem disposition.

A sign in front of a little shop proclaimed in big letters, "Taxidermy," with a painted image of a big buck. Below the deer, was a secondary message, "Be prepared, Jesus is Coming."

Until that moment, I had never associated the second coming of the Lord and the art of preservation.

I could just be standing there, albeit a bit stiff, prepared for the Lord to come back. If you dear readers missed me enough, you could come by for a little visit, although the conversation will likely be rather one-sided.

The graves in most cemeteries run east to west with the person facing east, so as to be laying in the direction of Jesus’ return in the eastern sky. But if you are stuffed, I don’t know if it matters which way you are facing.

Knowing my wife’s sentiment toward dead folk in the living room, I have a suspicion that I would end up in the basement, somewhere between the Christmas decorations and Aunt Oppie Lee’s china that she left me after she passed away.

As I continued my journey through the Southern part of our state, I saw a lot of signs on fence posts for taxidermists. It’s a competitive market and being a pretty good-sized boy, I don’t want them to spend too much on stuffing me.

I hope they can make me look thoughtful. Perhaps I can clutch my chin, as if I were thinking something very profound. If they have to replace my eyes, I might like to have some nice ones that are as blue as the ocean.

Knowing my wife, this arrangement won’t last long. My stuffing may be the catalyst for that long-postponed yard sale. If you see me out front, buy me. It’ll be the best 50 cents you’ve ever spent.

 

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.



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