‘From Address’ for that envelope was local Cemetery.
It was addressed to me. So I opened it thinking some local Tax or a donation request.
But the letter inside started as
“We are pleased to offer you a free lot in our Cemetery. It is an offer of buy one, get one free. Pay only $500.00 for one lot.”
I didn’t read the rest of it.
It was a shock to me.
‘Have I reached that age?’
‘Sixty four’, is it that old to get ready for the last trip?
When my eyes skim through the Obituary page of the Daily News Paper, I usually check the places to see is there anybody I know? If I am bored and I have nothing else to do & some time to kill, then I check just the ages of all those people gone, just to do a comparison, are they very old, or just few years older than me or just my age or younger than me? That is just a game for me. Nothing serious….
But this mail gave me a shock of reality.
Come to think of age…
The 60th Birthday, “Shashtiabdapoorthi” of my father, we celebrated.
I thought at the age of 60 he was too old. I never knew at that time that the soul would not age with the body. Now at this age, I know that fact. History repeats…the younger generation still doesn’t know this fact.
I remember my mother used to say that my father’s Sandals never broke, but always Sandals’ soles became worn out because he walked in them every day more than five to ten miles. I was happy to present him something he would use every day. So I bought a pair of Sandals as a present for his “Shashtiabdapoorthi”. Rest of the siblings bought Shirt, ‘Mundu’, Shawl, Umbrella etc. He worn all the presents he got for the special occasion and went to church on Sunday. All of us accompanied him to the church. After the Service when father came out from the church, he noticed that he lost his new Sandals & Umbrella to somebody who needed them more than him.
I tried not to think about age or death, but those thoughts linger in my mind all the time.
I was no more interested in material things. When I went for shopping, jewelry or clothes or kitchen stuff did not interest me any more. I saw them as a waste. There is no point in accumulating any of that stuff if I can’t guarantee that I will be alive to use them. I looked at the stuff in my showcases. What is the purpose of holding on to them, if I am not around to enjoy them? I used to change my chain or Bracelet or ear drops once in a while. Now I was no more interested in any of those rituals. My nail polish is all chipped, but it didn’t bother me anymore. Who cares?
I talked to my husband about the mail next day.
He told me, “I was thinking that we should buy some lots”
“Do you like it in public Cemetery or the one belonging to our church?” he added.
It was just a matter of fact conversation.
He didn’t ask me about burying in my Native land. He knew that I don’t like the dead bodies to be carried around for the funeral to far away places. I have told that it is always better to do the funeral where ever the person dies, instead of carrying it to far away places. Close relatives will be already sad because of the demise and prolonging the funeral by carrying dead body around will only make them more miserable.
When my Mother visited me once she asked me.
“Do you want to see me dead before the funeral, if you were not near me, when I die?”
Nobody likes to talk about death. Before I could answer that she said,
“Isn’t it better to remember my face as live, than dead? I don’t want to be placed in a mortuary. Promise me that you will not request to keep my body in a mortuary, when I die.”
I thought about it for a minute, before I answered “Yes”. So I promised her that I will not request to keep her in the mortuary.
One early morning when I got the news of her death, I said to my eldest brother over the phone,
“You don’t have to keep her in the mortuary for me to see her before the funeral”
Then he said, “Any way she is kept in the mortuary, you may come if you wish”
So I went home to witness her funeral. I understood the fact that a dead person has no choice.
Then one day my husband told me,
“This is not where we grew up, so there will not be relatives or elders to take care of when we die, so we should buy the lots. Our children are not living nearby, so they should not be bothered with all these, when it happens.”
So next time when I went to the church, I talked to Zid, the person in charge of the church lots. He gave me the plan of the church Cemetery.
There were names written for certain lots and some names were put in brackets.
Zid told me the names in brackets are booked ones. They are not dead, yet.
I started reading the names. The names in brackets or not I don’t know any of these guys. I don’t want to be buried near a stranger.
I started reading the names one by one slowly. At last I found a name I know well, Keegans. Oh my God. That lovely couple was my neighbors. They lived just in front of our house, in the same lot. They were Irish. They were always together. Even for doing the yard work outside, they were together. It was a pleasure to see them together like that even though they looked aged & tired.
We had gone to see Keegan one or two weeks after his wife Alice died.
He told us ‘how difficult it was to cope all alone especially since he was not any good in cooking’.
He died within one year. Somebody else bought that house and moved in soon.
Staying near somebody I know even if I will be in a coffin made my mind at ease.
Next week, when I met Zid, I told him that I found a spot near Keegans. He knew Keegans.
“Where exactly is your lot?” I asked Zid.
He told me that his was not very far away from Keegans.
“Anyway, don’t forget to invite us for the parties” I joked to him.
“Sure, I will not forget”, Zid said.
Last week, my husband got a mail from the same Public Cemetery.
“We are pleased to offer you a free lot in our Cemetery. It is an offer: Buy one, get one free. Pay only $634.00 for one lot.”
We had a good laugh…
“So, church lot is still cheaper…” Real Estate is still a good business.