Thursday, June 3, 2010

Six Feet Under

My Dad isn't preoccupied with death so much as he is obsessed with his theoretical funeral, or more specifically, burial (since he doesn't want a funeral). More specifically than that, he's mostly obsessed with finding a method that doesn't cost any money. ("That's how they get ya.") He's always thought funerals are something of a predatory, exploitative process, and now apparently that's extended to the interment process as well.

By now, he's exhausted most of the conventional approaches. He started out with the idea that he'd donate his body to Science. Then he had a chat with "Science" (after his triple-bypass surgery) and they didn't seem all that interested. It seems (via his interpretation -- I have not done the research) that "cadaver programs" mostly want the whole hog, as it were, and that might or might not have accommodated his wishes as an organ donor (and that might or might not have been information he obtained in a post-anesthetic fog).

His next big idea was cremation, til he found out the cost... and more importantly, that it was a lot more than one of his neighbors had paid to have his St. Bernard disposed of, which offended his sense of fair market value since he calculated the size and effort involved would be approximately the same. His next question -- "it's a big oven; why can't you just slide me in next to a German Shepherd or something? Not a poodle, I mean, a real dog..." -- was apparently not taken seriously. If you can imagine.

His latest plan -- which he called me up to tell me about last night -- somehow involves my Uncles, a backhoe, a cargo trailer, and a quilt. (Which is, come to think of it, roughly the same fate that met all of our family dogs).

I explained that Yes, "green funerals," are an option (I remember Nate had one on Six Feet Under). I think they involve shrouds and nature preserves, and they're available in some states, but probably not ours.  (They also cost about maybe half the price of something more "traditional," but they're not FREE.) I added that our state, like all states, has very specific laws about how to dispose of dead bodies. You can't even bury a cat in your backyard -- though of course, people do -- but I'm not sure The Law would turn such a good-natured blind eye if you planted Grandma behind the garage.

He was indignant, of course, and a rant followed as to the proper purview of the state and law enforcement.

I just hope it doesn't come up for a while. I thought his new energy for the subject might be predicated on his upcoming annual cardio visit (an occasion he always prepares for by eating an Annual Salad), but No, it turns out the scar tissue from his bypass is "bothering" him, and I think has manifested in his mind as something potentially fatal. (I'm not being dismissive -- but he had a headache for a year that he refused to see a doctor about because he was certain it was "The Big C" -- and it turned out to be a sinus infection. Which outraged him. "I have never had a sinus infection," he protested -- as if that somehow innoculated him -- and the doctor's response was, "well, you have one now." (Of course, if it had been a brain tumor, which is what he was sure he had, I'm not sure how avoiding the doctor's office would've improved the prognosis any -- in much the same manner that I've noticed my car doesn't spontaneously heal itself whenever it's making a funny noise and I just turn up the radio to drown it out.)

Not to worry, he explained. It's all under control.

He's discussed this mysterious scar-ailment at some length with my Uncles -- both of whom admittedly practice a good bit of veterinary medicine on the side -- neither of whom went to med school. I just hope they don't decide to operate on him.

Artist Michelle Bellemare may be onto something, with this piece, entitled "Casket," found via the Torontoist's, Art You Love, But Probably Can't Afford

I have all of his DNR instructions of course. We are not a sentimental family, and as he's pointed out to his surgeon, he's afraid to get so much as a cough or sniffle in front of me for fear I'll have him put to sleep, "Well, Dad wouldn't want to suffer. He wouldn't want to be kept alive like this. With NYQuil!" (He jokes about hiding his Timex at the hospital, since that's the "estate" I'm so eager to "inherit," once I "pull the plug.")

All I know is, I draw the line at digging the hole. 

No comments:

Post a Comment