Burned or Buried?

Other than the well armed and red haired Bonnie Parker showing up in my dreams on occasion there isn’t a whole lot of room in my personal mythology for ghosts. My theory is that if indeed ghosts existed we would be overrun by the damn things by now. World War Two ghosts would litter Europe and Asia like a tornado hitting a Klan Rally in Lower Alabama. To think there are lost souls out there haunting the sites of their lives, deaths, or burials is a stretch considering how many people have lived and died.

There is something a little bizarre in our preoccupation with the dead. My father, who is a man very much unlike myself, has at least one weird little quirk; he kidnaps family members. Oh, this isn’t to say he pulls a gun and forces someone into the truck of a car, but if you ever go anywhere with him, and he’s driving, then you’ve signed on to go anywhere else he might decide to go, even if you don’t want to go there. The cemetery is one of his favorite destinations for his victims, and my grandmother’s grave is where he always stops. Don’t be misled here. My father is just as likely to take you to see an old friend who lives thirty minutes away, or to show you what they’re building on the other side of town.  Alien abduction might be explained by that same need, don’t you know.

I don’t do cemeteries. I do not visit graves. I, in no shape, fashion or form, think it does me, or anyone else any good whatsoever, to go stand in front of a piece of granite, and talk to someone whose body lies somewhat preserved six feet beneath the ground. I think putting flowers on these stones is a waste of resources. I think getting a bunch of dead people together in a field is a waste of space. I think pumping a dead human body full of chemicals, putting it into a box, putting the box into a box, then burying all of this underground is silly. In nature, the purpose of the dead is to return life to earth, by returning the dead to the earth. We humans keep life from the earth by keeping the dead from the earth. It’s backwards, and it is detrimental to the environment, and to those who have lost loved ones, too. We need to let go of the dead, so we can continue to go on living.

Saying this in The South is paramount to teaching the fine art of eating babies.

Since I was a kid I thought cremation would be cool. Ideally, my cremation would involve a really large bonfire, or something of that sort. Cremation via volcano would be a neat way to go, and you have to admit the most efficient. The big argument I get against cremation down in this part of the world is the aversion to fire after death. It’s a religious thing, and therefore not subject to reasonable debate. There are people in my family who have openly said they believe our long dead relatives are watching over us. How would anything possibly go wrong then? With just two, maybe three or four generations alive at any given moment, wouldn’t stand to reason there were dozens upon dozens watching over us then?

Yet apparently the dead have much to be pissed about. Remember the movie “Poltergeist”? In that movie an entire neighborhood was haunted because the subdivision was built on a graveyard, and therefore, the dead were restless and apparently appalled. Worse, many of the cast died in the next few years fueling the idea that if people are stupid enough to be scared by dead people in a movie, they are stupid enough to be scared by dead people in real life.  Were the dead truly bothered by the disturbed grave thing doesn’t it stand to reason that, once again, there would be ghosts flying around like a large pack of rolling papers thrown out of a hippie’s van at ninety miles an hour right after the blue lights come on?

Okay, that analogy didn’t work, but you get the point.

The thing here is our perception of death, and what happens after we die, is just plain wrong. Why spend so much money on a funeral when the living needs the money much more than the dead? Why plant people in places you could plant food? Why have these marble slabs thrown down on the ground to mark the memory of a life if that life isn’t remembered anywhere else? And if it is, why then the slab and if not then why bother? The dead are dead. If their memories do not live within the people who loved them then they are truly gone, are they not?

I’d love to be planted in an open field, in a hole, and covered up. I’d love to be tossed into the ocean, and left to sink. I’d love to be burned to ash, and those ashes spilled into the black waters of the Okefenokee Swamp. If someone wants to bring flowers, they’ll have to do it from a canoe. If my life does not give my life any reason to be remembered, then I will slip quietly away in death.

It is the only way to go.

Take Care,,

sabrinaa_smiless   sabrinaa_smiless wrote
on 9/25/2009 10:48:05 AM
I want to become ashes and have them thrown into a river with butterflies. I love butterflies because, to me, they symbol freedom. And I feel that is what I'll get when I die. I really like this writing of yours. :]

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 7/13/2008 7:05:46 AM
Claire, I promise it will never be.

ClaireCollins   ClaireCollins wrote
on 7/13/2008 2:47:05 AM
My husbands family took their fathers ashes to the top of a mountain and let him go on the wind. When they want to go visit, they go to the mountain. That's how I want to go. Just take what's left of my empty shell, burn it down to nothing, and release my dust to the earth. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. I am concerned however, that your next post will be on the fine art of eating babies...

danicpa68   danicpa68 wrote
on 7/1/2008 5:41:33 AM
Your opinons make one think as usual and then the feelings come out. A true artist/writer has done their job if the work makes us feel. You always achieve that goal. Excellently done.

Wundrmom44   Wundrmom44 wrote
on 6/26/2008 10:44:42 AM
Hey Mike, I have never met you, but I would/will remember you. 21st century stuff, ain't it grand? Hey, I have something to share... shocked aren't you? Ahhh, come on now! When we visited New Orleans, my hub and I took a tour of the city and we visited a cemetery... hundreds of years old. It was ..... ..... I don't know how to describe it. The tour guide explained the rules for burial in the city. The graves were more family crypts or plots... vaults? Say Aunt Margo dies... they have to remove the front of the vault and slid her body inside on a slab... concrete it back up.... Now the vault cannot be opened for a year and a day. During that time the sultry Louisiana heat and humidity will turn Auntie into nothing but a pile of bleached bones. Then if Grandma dies the vault is reopened... Margo's bones are slid to the back of the vault where they fall onto the pile down below with everyone elses and they slide Grandma in so she can cook. So what happens if Grandma dies 6 months after Aunt Margo? What to do? They have rentals... yes rentals. They slide Grandma's body into a rental vault and then when the year and a day is up, the family vault can be reopened and Grandma's bones can be deposited along with all the rest... something might be lost in the translation but you get the picture... That just blew me away. There were vaults in the cemetery with hundreds of names on them... no ghosts though. I liked the rolling paper metaphor very funny! Have a great day... Kristina

Mike Firesmith
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