It’s one step forward and two steps back as far as planning my own funeral is concerned. I keep getting distracted. However, I have (almost definitely) decided that I want to be cremated.
So, it’s cremation; no embalming; and no viewings. And a thorough medical examination to ensure that I am completely dead and not in a coma. That leaves the relatively simple decision of what’s to be done with the ashes.
One thing I most certainly do not want is to be placed in any kind of permanent receptacle, particularly not on someone’s mantelpiece. Disturbingly, Daisy (who is now fully recovered from that mishap with her over-sized slippers) has several urns adorning her living room. Each to their own, but there is something unsettling about treasuring mortal remains however attractively displayed.
Nor am I keen on those cupboards they have in the memorial ‘Everlasting Peace’ section of our local cemetery. Interestingly, they’re known as sanctums thus creating the illusion that they are forever untouched. Last summer, after my friend Jean’s cremation, her family arranged an informal gathering around the sanctum to ‘lay her to rest’. The door was opened and…there was George! I had forgotten he would be in there.
Everyone nodded as if to say, ‘How lovely! Reunited at last.’ As I bowed my head, in what I hoped looked like solemn reflection, I was thinking, ‘Together again for eternity (or for as long as the lease lasts) in a little cupboard.’
I then imagined myself grabbing Jean’s jar (I never much cared for George) running to the nearest tree and scattering her remains with gay abandon. Needless to say, decorum, good manners and a stiff knee prevailed. A sharp look from Daisy told me that she knew what I had been thinking.
I am going to tell my children that I’d like to be scattered. I’ll add it to my wish list. In fact the more I think about it, the more I’m enjoying the idea of Jamie and Alex walking into the woods at dawn (yes, I’ll specify first light) and scattering me to the cold and bitter wind.
This noble scene is slightly marred by visions of them having to avoid any dogs being walked at that time in the morning, and of them struggling to unscrew the lid of my plastic jar (no point in wasting money on a scattering tube, or God forbid, an ornate urn). I’m also fairly sure they would forget to check the wind direction. Neither of them is very practical.
The main advantage of being strewn in a random area of woodland, is that there’s then no place they may feel duty bound to visit on Mother’s day, or any other day when they should be spending time with their offspring or enjoying themselves.
It’s Mr Mollington who is beginning to cause concern. Indeed, I’m rather worried that his plans may scupper my plans. The other day he mentioned that he was going to be buried – he even started talking knowledgeably about double depth graves. I shudder at the thought. And how can we possibly agree on a suitable engraving for the memorial headstone? Not to mention the fresh flowers each week.
I find myself in agreement with Joyce Grenfell on this. ‘Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone.’ However, I will ask for one flower to be broken. All I need is a simple, inexpensive coffin (one that burns at the optimum rate) topped with a single rose; a lid that can be removed from the inside (just in case); and a plain cardboard container for the ashes.
Now for the funeral ceremony…