Darla Buys a Funeral Plot

My next door office mate, Darla, is just a joy. I have written about her  several times, and she never ceases to amaze and delight. She  monitors the services and care that Developmentally and Intellectually disabled individuals on her case load receive, and makes sure they are being treated appropriately. She has some fairly serious health complications of her own, yet is a fireball of energy with an infectious giggle and a wicked sense of humor.  Her latest quest, started, I suppose by the COVID-19 pandemic, is to have all her own end of life decisions and plans completed, and that means buying a funeral plot. Morbid, I admit, but the way she goes about these things is so refreshing and life-affirming.

Darla decided that she wanted to be cremated, and then buried in a plot near New Hradek, the small Czech community where her husband’s family has a farm, 5 miles north of our town.  She is from a German-Russian/German-Hungarian community 10 miles to the East, and has no intention of being buried in the Gladstone Cemetery.  Her parents are buried there, and she initially  thought she could save a lot of money if she and her husband were buried in the same plot, as all of them would be cremated. “How many urns can you fit in a plot?” she asked a local funeral director.  “They don’t take up that much space”.  He just rolled his eyes at her.  (They are old friends). She  got somewhat fanciful, and suggested that she and all of her seven brothers and their spouses could also be cremated and buried with their parents in the same plot, stacked like eggs in a double layer crate with the same sort of packaging between the urns.   None of her siblings thought that was a very good idea, so she returned to the New Hradek plan, and is waiting for the very elderly manager of the cemetery there to get back to her.  It is taking him a while.  “I just hope he didn’t wake up dead !” she said to me the other day.

Darla has a very specific directive for her husband if she goes first. He is to rent a coffin long enough so that all her DD clients can view her body and see and understand that she is really gone.  Then they can cremate her. I can hardly wait to hear how this all turns out.

What are your plans for eternity?  Got any good funeral stories?

50 thoughts on “Darla Buys a Funeral Plot”

  1. I spent some time yesterday walking in a cemetery in St. Paul, so seeing this header photo come up today seemed appropriate to me. I found the graves of one of my father’s sisters and her husband. Last month I found the graves of my paternal grandparents. I also called and found out where my godparents are buried, but I haven’t been there yet.

    Walking in cemeteries is especially nice in the spring. Roselawn Cemetery, where I walked yesterday, has a long row of lilacs along the west edge of the property.

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  2. We actually went to a free pizza meal hosted by a local funeral parlor/cremation place here, right before the lockdown, for some eternity planning. We meant to follow up with them soon and set down some plans… we should explore on our own before that meeting, and you’d think there would be plenty of time now! Maybe this reminder will help, Renee…

    Can’t recall a good funeral story yet, but will keep thinking.

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  3. My plans are cremation. Haven’t decided what to do with them yet. Leaning toward scattering them in the BWCAW, but also considering Lake Superior and the Canadian Rockies (assuming there are no border-crossing issues).

    If I die young enough that most of my golf buddies are still around, I’ve toyed with the idea of asking them for a “21-tee-ball salute.” Line up 21 golfers with their drivers and each with a ball teed up. (Or seven golfers each doing three tee shots, similar to a military 21-gun salute)

    Then on the count of three, each golfer launches a ball out across the Straight River. In a perfect world, I’d have them drive a ball off a cliff into a volcano or the ocean or someplace really cool.

    Other than that, I figure dying is simply going to sleep for a really long time and not dreaming or being aware of anything. Just like flipping the switch to “off.”

    Related to this topic, we FINALLY had our wills, health directives, et al, drawn up last year!!!!! Got it done in our sixties at least. Pain in the butt, but better than leaving a tangled mess for anyone. If you don’t have at least your will written, please do that sooner than later. And healthcare directives are SO important these days in our high-tech medical world that can keep physical bodies alive seemingly forever.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I do, too, except for the part of launching them into a volcano or ocean. We don’t need to leave more debris in such places. But since that’s probably not likely to happen, I’m not going to worry about it.

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  4. Nothing wrong with funeral planning; makes it easier for the survivors if you just point out an envelope and tell them “it’s all in there”. My folks have that. (Today is mom’s 94th Birthday! We’re meeting in the parking lot under her balcony this afternoon. Got cupcakes that we’re joking we’ll try to throw one up to her.)

    I’ve got music picked and we have plots that were purchased by Kelly’s aunt and Uncle next to their plots. Kelly wants to be cremated. I haven’t settled no that. And really, it shouldn’t matter to me since I’ll be dead.

    When my dad died and we were at the funeral home picking out things, we noticed a picture of Bea Arthur on the sample caskets. We asked if she was a spokesperson? Or they had buried her? No, it was just the photo they choose to use. Which I thought was the funniest thing ever. I wanted to sneak back in every few months and put some other old dead actors photo in their display.

    I’ve got a couple good funeral stories:
    A catholic funeral for a neighbors mom. I’m back in the middle of the church, but right at the aisle near the water ‘font’? Thingy? The priest, casket, and procession stop right there and he’s blessing the casket. Except he’s several feet away from it as the procession lined up and he literally had to THROW the water from his little container to hit it. It was pretty funny.
    Another funeral, the minister had a message from the family of the deceased thanking all the people who had helped out while he was sick and then the minister asked if those people were there and would they stand up? Then he called the deceased persons name and asked if he’d stand up. That was a little creepy. And sad. The minister felt terrible afterward when he realized what he’d done.
    A graveside service mid January and very very cold. I knew the minister well and I asked him if he had his long johns on under his robe. He said “I’ve got everything i own on under here”.
    Just this spring at a funeral for my aunt, my 7th grade speech teacher was there as a kitchen worker. It was really nice to see him again and I was more impressed he remembered my name. He said he always liked my speeches and that I had done a good job even back then. Made my whole day.

    My mom and dad were pretty instrumental getting a bell for their church. When Dad died I asked if we could have the bell rung. They said yes of course and I got to do it. I sort of lost track of how many times I rang it. He was 89 and I knew I wasn’t going to do 89 times. But I think I figured 15 or something. Lost track in there somewhere but it was good enough.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I intend to be cremated but have no desire to take up space in a cemetery. Once I decide where my ashes will be scattered (probably several favorite places – maybe even internationally), I will leave instructions and $$ for my sisters or their children to comply with my wishes. No somber memorial service either. I’d rather my family and friends gather for a party where they can share their memories and stories – must have good music, too. I am OK with my family purchasing a brick in my memory for St. Joan of Arc’s Memorial Garden if they wish.

    Many years ago I had my will, durable power of attorney, and health care directive made out. I am way overdue in updating the will. At the time my folks were alive and my nephew and nieces were very young. Now my folks are gone, the kids are adults, and two of them have kids of their own.

    The 21 tee ball salute is a great idea. I do play but strictly for fun – don’t keep score any longer. Might have to mull this over…….

    One of my cousins and I have been taking walks in Lakewood Cemetery. She lives only a block away. We knew we had distant relatives buried there and eventually did find their graves. Another friend wants to walk at Sunset Memorial Park. Roselawn is another possibility as I don’t live too terribly far from it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My dad’s boss, when we lived in Iowa, came from the family that ran the biggest funeral parlor in town. Somehow my dad kept getting asked to help with that business, which he did with good humor. I grew up with stories from him about funerals.

    One story was about two fellows who were fond of alcohol but poor. Dad said they were Irish, which is a detail I wince to remember. My father grew up in a world where each nation’s immigrants had a stereotype, like the Scots were cheap and the Irish drank too much. These two fellows got in the habit of attending wakes of people they didn’t know. Alcohol was served generously at wakes, so these guys would pretend to mourn while knocking back drinks.

    Then a man died who was a hunchback. The mortician got frustrated because this man’s deformity would not allow him to lie flat in his casket. The mortician fixed that with a short rope that pulled the dead man down into the cushions of the casket and held him there.

    See where this is going? Late at night, the two tipsy mourners sat by the casket, sobbing quietly and feeling no pain. The rope somehow broke or came untied, and the deceased suddenly sat up in his casket. If there was more detail about what happened, I’ve forgotten it.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I know where the bodies are buried. When I first began my genealogical research, it was before anything was online, before there was an online really and so it took considerably more effort to find out things like who was buried where and how to find that particular cemetery. My parents were by then the oldest generation still above ground and they had very little information to impart on the subject. In the intervening years I think I’ve located and visited all my direct ancestors who died in this country and a great many offshoots going back to my great great great grandparents. We’ve done the same for Robin’s family. The bulk of them have turned up, so to speak, in Wisconsin, so visiting them has not been too challenging, but we also scouted cemeteries in New York and Vermont for those forebears who remained east. When we are out driving in the country, Robin and I will often stop just to walk through a particularly charming cemetery.

    Which makes it ironic, perhaps, that I have no interest in being interred anywhere- not in the flesh certainly and not as ashes. Why be anywhere when you can be everywhere?

    I even own a pair of cemetery plots that I inherited when my uncle moved to Arizona. They’re near my parents and my paternal grandfather. The cemetery is not especially lovely although it may once have been. What I’ve discovered—at least here in the city— is that the supply of plots exceeds the apparent demand. I’ve tried selling ours and even at a price a quarter of what the cemetery would charge, there has been no interest whatsoever. I’m not sure I could give them away.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Are there still such things as pauper graves? Pondering that question, I’m wondering what happens to the bodies of homeless vagrants, prison inmates, and right now, the ICE detention camps?

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        1. I’ sure that’s the case, Renee, but I’m guessing we probably don’t want to know the details.

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        2. Yes, there is. There was an article about New York City’s use of this practice to bury the many bodies of COVID-19 victims who were homeless and without family or funeral plans.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I think St. Paul’s purchase of the Bix Produce warehouse to use as a temporary morgue is at least in part because the homeless are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and decision can’t always be made quickly if relatives can’t be located.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. In addition to my parents and my grandfather, two other plots in that section of the cemetery hold the remains of my grandmother’s sister and her husband. They had three children, all a little older than me. I thought maybe I ought to contact them to see if any of them might want the plots near their parents. Would that be creepy? I met them a couple of times when I was very young but have no relation with them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, two of them ( out of three) are already dead, as it turns out. Not a very long-lived bunch. The third one lives in Key West, so it looks unlikely.

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  8. Daughter told me that on Mother’s Day, some friends of hers were out with their 5 year old and their metal detector when they came upon someone’s urn that had been buried in a random, non-cemetery, public piece of ground. I think they returned the urn to the police.

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  9. I’ve told my daughter that I have no plans or wishes for what happens when I leave the planet. My conviction is that when I die, I’ll be dead, and dead people probably don’t get to observe funerals or contemplate eternity from a grave site with a favorable view.

    The novel and miniseries, Lonesome Dove, describes the (more or less) true story of how Gus sends his buddy Woodrow on a quest to bury his body after Gus dies. The quest is meant to be one last big adventure, something Woodrow would enjoy.

    I can’t think of anything comparable for those who will be sorry when I’m gone. So my final wishes come down to giving my daughter total freedom when I’m gone. If she or anybody would enjoy a memorial service, I’d not want to deny them that. But neither would I ask for one, partly because I’ve never enjoyed them when I lost people I cared about. When the time comes, my daughter will know what would help her and other folks adjust to the new fact I won’t be around. She will know what to do, if anything.

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      1. I’m not sure, PJ. There is the issue of whether she will do something formal, and then there is the issue of when. She might not feel like organizing anything right away. She knows she owes me nothing. Anything she does is for her and anybody else who was close to me. She has a good heart and a good mind, so she’ll do the right thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, hopefully she won’t have to deal with that anytime soon, but I was thinking more in practical terms, as in what to do with the body.

          I know you didn’t make it Edith’s memorial service, but I was impressed that she had very much expressed and documented, in detail, how she wanted it to be. She had chosen some pretty unusual songs. The one that sticks out in my mind is “The Happy Wanderer.” The recollections of her two long-time friends gave us an insight into a part of Edith’s life that I knew nothing about, of an Edith quite different than the one I knew from the trail and the few times I met her in person.

          Does anyone know what, if anything, has been done with her ashes? I don’t recall if she had a special wish in that regard.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I chose to not go to Edith’s service. I was too messed up by her death, and I would have been a distraction at her service. I’ve been exchanging letters with one of her daughters about that. Memorial services are helpful for some folks. I’m not one, it seems. I barely got through my mother’s memorial, as it was stupid and inappropriate.

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  10. I get a charge out of going to funerals or memorials where someone tells a funny (or at least charming) story about the deceased. At my dad’s funeral, I related that although he wasn’t aligned with Garrison Keillor’s politics, he did enjoy some of his humor, like this quote: “They say such nice things about people at funerals that it makes me sad that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.” That got a chuckle…

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  11. Speaking of telling stories. An uncle died. His kids took turns telling stories about dad. One story was about replacing a post in the barn. Son #2 is helping dad, using the old screw jacks and raising the main beam to replace a post. Well something slipped, post fell over and hits dad in the head, knocks him right down on the ground. Son thinks ‘OMG, He’s dead!!’
    Dad groans and gets up on one knee, takes off his seed cap and rubs his head and says “Boy, good thing I was wearing a hat.”
    Every time I bump my head now I think of those two.

    Or my niece talking about how her dad introduced her to the music of Warren Zevon. And now several members of the family think of him when we hear Warren Zevon.

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  12. There are folks well known out here who make a habit of going to funerals of people they may have only known a little bit just so they can go to the funeral lunch.

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    1. There was a woman, Alice Kruse, a professor of English, actually, who would do this at funerals and weddings, as well. Miss Kruse had been a missionary at one point, and seemed to feel she was still poor. She came to my wedding and filled her purse with nuts and little sandwiches and wedding cake. We knew she we do this so I made sure she was invited to the wedding. She was a much more welcome guest than my Aunt Genevieve the hoarder, who brought her grandson, Herbie. He got put in jail the night of the wedding for an offense I no longer remember.

      Miss Kruse lived to be 107 years old and only died a few years ago.

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      1. I’d be open to it. Of course my parts are open for harvesting before that, although it’s hard to imagine any of them would be worth much.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I would consider that. I don’t have any really strong feelings about burial versus cremation, because, as Steve said, I’m not going to be around for it. But composting seems to be the greenest option. I would think it will probably be an option in Minnesota in my lifetime, unless I’m being overly optimistic in defining “lifetime”.

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  13. Wind Down and Get Ready for Bed, Baboons,

    It is waaaay past time for Rise and Shine. I have been having busy days.

    My plans are to be cremated and then buried with a headstone in the Nevada Iowa Cemetery that I have written about before. That is my dad’s family who I have so loved. I want to mingle with them in eternity. I don’t care about memorial services or anything else, just this.

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  14. Thought of another memorable funeral. The minister had a pretty heavy accent so was hard to understand in the first place. But his ‘over the ear’ mic kept falling out of place, and when it did you couldn’t understand anything he said. But he kept talking. PLEASE, just stop and fix your mic!!
    Then we went outside for a service with the honor guard. The church is on the corner of two busy streets. With the traffic going by, we could only hear him when he looked our way so missed most of that.
    Then to the firehall for another service there and dedication of a plaque for him. Next to a busy highway. Couldn’t hear any of that.
    But wait! Next stop, the Legion Bar! Abandon hope all who enter.
    Just had to laugh- it was a pretty great service, I guess, that I only heard a bit of.

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  15. Last year, one of husband’s pickleball buddies died less than a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Once diagnosed with a deadly disease that had already spread, he knew his days were numbered. He enlisted his wife and three adult children in planning for his funeral. He was a strong environmentalist, and wanted the process to be as environmentally friendly as possible. He chose a “green burial,” and husband was asked to serve as a pall bearer.

    We knew nothing of this option, and were surprised to discover that apparently it is a growing trend. He was buried, wrapped in a shroud, his family having prepared his body for his final destination. No embalming fluids were used, dry ice was used to preserve the body until the burial. The body was placed in a wicker-type container for the ease of carrying it to the burial site. The site itself is a relatively small, privately own piece of property with no obvious grave markers or headstones, nothing, really to tell you that this was a burial ground.

    His interment took place after several days of rain, and the ground surrounding his final resting place was extremely muddy. Husband said he was fearful of sliding into the grave himself as they lowered the corpse into the grave.

    A few months later his widow invited us to dinner. We were struck with how open this family was about talking about this whole process. It seemed as if there had been some healing aspect for them to being so directly and intimately involved in laying him to rest.

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  16. The saddest burial I ever attended was that of the mother of a dear friend. Rick’s mother was a widow of a WWII veteran who was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Her gravesite was reserved right next to his.

    Mrs. Kelly had been living alone for years, and as time passed, she gradually slipped into dementia, but remained functional enough that she could stay in her own apartment. She was in the habit of buying a lot of stuff she saw on late night TV ads. Over the years she had acquired quite the stash of odd stuff she never used. Purses, kitchen gadgets, commemorative plates, playing cards and other unused items that it fell to Rick to get rid of after her death. Whenever I hear of Steve Goodman’s “Vegematic,” song, I think of her.

    The burial took place at Fort Snelling on a cold and blustery day . Seven veterans were waiting at a respectful distance for the graveside service to end to deliver the traditional twenty-one gun salute. In addition to Rick, only I and another mutual friend, also named Rick, were there. Of course the priest who was conducting the service was present, sort of. As soon as he started the eulogy it became painfully obvious that he was clueless as to the identity of the deceased. It was almost comical the way he clumsily tried to disguise the fact that he didn’t even know her name.

    Rick is an only child, and I can only imagine how forlorn he must have felt as we left the cemetery that day. The other Rick and I treated Rick K to a burger and a couple of beers at a local bar afterwards, seemed like the least we could do.

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    1. When my aunt Roberta died, her son decided not have a service. She had outlived all but one of her siblings, who lives in South Dakota and wouldn’t have traveled for it, and most of the friends she’d had. If there had been a service, it would likely have resembled Mrs Kelly’s.

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