I have to concede I only give so much thought to the end.
I don’t mean The End, as in the universe collapsing back into the singularity in a few billion years. I just mean the end of one’s own breathing, striving, giving and taking, savoring and suffering, and generally reaching for the last rays of sunlight on one’s final day.
These things deserve thought and a degree of planning, but mine goes little beyond wanting “Brother James’ Air” and a few other hymns at whatever party they decided to throw without me. I really should write a few of these things down.
These are important decisions, ranging from selection of music to burial vs. cremation. That second one is another thing I haven’t thought about too much, though Americans have embraced cremation more and more in recent decades.
The idea can carry a certain romance. We visit a place – a favorite lake, a mountain, a quiet garden – and for a moment feel a connection to all that seems deep, true and affirming.
We turn to a friend and say, scatter my ashes here. We hope, in some way, to forever become part of that space of transcendent beauty. Transcendence is the whole idea of death, right?
Places such as the Grand Canyon are popular, so much so that the feds have a spreading-of-ashes application form and some rules on the when and where.
At least it’s orderly, theoretically. Then again, who wants their scattering in the wind to be tied to filling out one more damn form – death, taxes, forms – for the government. I have to imagine that more than one rebellious soul has convinced a friend to just get to the North Rim and make it happen.
Now comes news of another variation. Let’s try to be respectful as we walk through the particulars.
Two guys in New York, childhood friends and Mets fans. One became a plumber. He passed away several years ago, and his friend asked the family for some of his ashes. He’s kept them in a peanut can. Again, baseball.
He spread ashes in places you might think – a field where they once played, a place of shared Mets memories. He started doing major league stadiums but ran into various obstacles.
He hit upon another idea. Again, his friend was a plumber. He started flushing some remains at the stadiums. He’s up to 16 (including Kauffman Stadium, by the way), and he’s still at it. It’s fitting, he says.
The implied idea is that the deceased buddy is somewhere looking down, having a good laugh and smiling at his friend’s devotion. (That whole Larry-is-looking-down-at-us thing has zero basis in Scripture, but we say it because it comforts us.)
I don’t know. It’s best to steer clear of judgment in what people do in these situations, especially in an era in which what feels right also feels imperative. But it might also be best to let friends and family know what you really want and what might be a foul ball.
– Reach Jeff Fox at 816-350-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter: @Jeff_Fox