Off the Cuffs: Bibbs considers donation, cremation, cryonics – Cecil Whig

Posted: June 4, 2017 at 11:45 pm

ELKTON I spent a fair amount of time in cemeteries last week, said Cuffs, explaining his recent absence from the local scene. Attending memorial services and visiting relatives graves.

Billy Bibbs and I nodded, encouraging the North Street Hotel curmudgeon to continue his report.

Peaceful places, Cuffs added. Usually pretty empty except on weekends and holidays. But during the workweek you might see a few workers doing landscaping and general maintenance. Opening up fresh graves for upcoming funerals.

Allows you plenty of privacy, and time to reflect upon your loved ones. Even talk out loud if you want. Nobody around to overhear your private thoughts.

Well, Bibbs said, that old fashioned burial-in-the-ground routine aint for me. Im going to get myself cremated. Save on cost, less aggravation to deal with, and no need to buy a clean white shirt and new suit plus Ill be doing my part to help the environment.

I nodded, offering no comment. I didnt care if Bibbs was tossed off the side of his crab boat into the upper Chesapeake, given a dirt nap in a county boneyard, or cooked to a crisp and had his ashes jammed in a jelly jar.

Cuffs thought differently, however, saying, You might want to think about donating your sorry stupid self to science, he said, sporting a smile. Maybe then some clumsy med student could look inside your thick skull and see what wires are crossed. Then wed find out why you were such a pain in all our backsides.

Jimmy, the saloons owner, happened to be passing by, and entered the conversation with a question: Have you ever heard of anybodys body being rejected for scientific study? From what I understand, years ago it was against the law. But now I hear they take everybody and anybody.

I couldnt resist, So that gives Bibbs two options. He can finally become some use to society as a scientific case study. Or spend the hereafter in a fancy vase, perched on somebodys bookshelf.

Id rather be scattered across the finish line at Delaware Park, Bibbs said. In fact, I think Ill make sure thats written down in my will.

Everyone enjoyed his remark, but when the laughter died down, Cuffs said, This cremation thing got me to thinking, so I did a bit of research.

Look out, said Jimmy, sounds like were moving into serious territory.

Did you know, Cuffs said, there are thousands. Maybe tens of thousands, of unclaimed cremated remains stacked in storage areas in funeral parlors across the country?

Youre crazy, said Bibbs, obviously annoyed, since he had announced bodily incineration as his preferred method of environmentally conscious disposal from Mother Earth. Where you getting that kind of information.

A bunch of articles on the internet focus on ashes left behind and never retrieved from crematoriums. Either because the family member forgot about the loved one, didnt want to pick him or her up, or didnt have the money to pay for the fireside service. So the undertakers hold onto Johnny or Jenney for as long as possible. Then, depending upon state law, they get rid of the remains as they see fit.

Sounds harsh, said Bibbs, his face displaying concern.

Looks like our pal Bibbs might be having second thoughts about his cremation determination, said Cuffs, as he slapped his perplexed friend across the back.

Entering into the discussion, I mentioned there were other problems with the disposition of ashen remains. Containers holding loved ones often become misplaced or lost by those entrusted with their care. Urns and vases are shoved into attics, storage sheds, and old trunks, or placed onto crowded basement shelves. Like boxes filled with old unidentified photographs, over time remains are forgotten. Until discovered years later by confused descendants or clueless strangers.

Theres also the so-called convenience of cremation that affects the ritual associated with the longstanding visitation process, Cuffs said.

Acknowledging the confusion apparent on the faces of the rest of the group, he added, My recent cemetery visits involved preparation for the trip, or journey. Locating the familiar resting place. Saying a few prayers, and having a brief conversation. Finally, placing a flag, special memento, or flowers near the marble marker.

That ritual, or process, is lost when the loved one is kept in a box on the bottom detergent shelf of a laundry room.

Youre exaggerating, challenged Bibbs, becoming more annoyed as the conversation continued.

Not so, I interjected. Over time, boxed or vased remains are treated with less reverence than a traditional burial site. I recall an unusual incident, when I was interviewing a couple of quirky historians in their home. As we sat down to talk, the wife brought out four fancy urns which held the remains of both sets of parents. She set them down on the coffee table, saying she thought her deceased relatives might enjoy listening to the interview.

Shaking his head, Bibbs said, Youre making that up. No way that ever happened.

Raising my right hand, I said, I swear on the remains of my late father that have been pressed into this diamond, worn on my right hand that I did not make up the statement about that interview.

What about the story of the diamond ring? Cuffs asked, as confused as the others by my addition of that little tidbit.

Smiling, I replied, Now thats a total fabrication, I said.

Picking up on my clever reply, Jimmy asked, So your ring or the wacky story is a fabrication from cremated ashes?

Ill let you decide, placing my hand on the table, and adding, By the way, theyre called cremation crystals, or cremations diamonds. A wearable trend thats increasing in popularity, environmentally friendly and, of course, politically correct.

Shaking his head, Jimmy said, What will they think of next?

Responding, Cuffs said, We havent even touched on cryonics deep freezing you after death. Only costs about $200,000, and you might end up in the same warehouse as Walt Disney.

I think we should put that topic on the shelf for another time, I said.

Yeah! Cuffs said, right next to Bibbs ashes.

Unless his relatives toss him out in an old outhouse, added Jimmy.

Or a yard sale, I said.

After the laughter subsided, Bibbs asked, If I donate myself to science, do I have to buy a new suit?

Nope, Cuffs said. Its even cheaper than cremation, and theyll take you just the way you are.

Count me in, Bibbs said.

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Off the Cuffs: Bibbs considers donation, cremation, cryonics - Cecil Whig

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