09 June 2012

Last Wishes Are the Best Wishes!

skeleton picture i really like
I just know that if I were to die unexpectedly, my father would put my bod through everything he put my mother's through last year.

A guy who went to my high school, Bill Epperson, at the Black-Epperson Funeral Home in Byesville, Ohio, would embalm me, dress me in a get-up I would never wear in life, and lay me out in some tarted-up, candy-colored casket. The villagers would parade by me, noting that "she was always a pretty girl (sic) but she looks much better now that someone else has done her up."

Pastor Nancy would pray over me, and my body would start squirming and a wailing would rise up in me such as has never been heard in the Main Avenue Methodist Church, hard by the Black-Epperson Funeral Home. (I actually like Pastor Nancy, so if I have to be prayed over by anyone.... And Pastor Nancy will totally understand if I writhe and wail throughout the ordeal. She would expect no less.)

Can anyone who knows me imagine me in any of these caskets? See what I mean? Writhe. Wail. I wouldn't be able to stop if I tried.

And this is just the shit my father would pick out, too. With Little Bill Epperson's pointed guidance.

Bill and I clashed a bit over my mother's funeral. He was pushing my dad way up in price, which is what funeral directors do primarily. I doggedly pursued everything I'd learned to question from reading The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford—twice.

No law says we have to embalm, right, Bill? 

Instead of spending $6000 on "Serenity's Slumber," can't we rent it and then put a simple pine number in the ground? 

Why do we need to have "open-casket viewing" (blanch) and a service, separately, over two full days?

So I imagine that when Bill gets his chance, he'll relish pushing for my final resting place to be in something "tasteful" (his favorite word—at first I thought he was using it ironically) like:


Bad enough The Last Supper, but if they put me in the Heart of America you'll see me do more than writhe.

If I I am ever made to be in a coffin or <<<shudder>>> have a "showing," then I want something like the nice pine box below, made by Prison Industries. (I actually saw this today when I dropped into Maine State Prison Industries. They do beautiful work.)

Now then, in effort to pre-empt all this, I state my last wishes here:

I want my body to remain completely intact, including having my blood congeal and dry up inside my circulatory system. No embalming. This does not stem from an excessive preoccupation with my own bodily integrity. It's that I want my body to be used for scientific or medical research. It's the only thing I can think to do with myself that might matter at all. (Otherwise, you could throw me in a dumpster and who would be the wiser? Do that if you can't do this.)

Ideally, my organs and tissue (including skin, corneas, meniscus...) would be harvested, my flesh flayed, and then the bones cleaned and boiled and re-articulated. Finally, I should like my skeleton to hang in a science classroom and be observed, studied, and shamelessly fooled with. I really like the idea of teenagers posing me hand in pubis and laughing like the adolescents they are. But I wax specific. Send me where I will be of best use.

Donating my body to be used for more general scientific or medical purposes is perhaps more realistic. Knowing that parts of a donated corpse are often distributed to a variety of institutions and universities (spread the wealth, yuk, yuk), I authorize all that is deemed necessary or beneficial by the qualified authorities.

I do not care what is done with any particular part of me or the whole. I won't be holding out for the science class skeleton gig; at actual point of use I don't need to have a say.

No memorial service, unless my father wants one for family and locals. (And believe me, he'll want one.) Just please don't let him invite any of my friends.

It's fine to send out a death announcement but it should have a skeleton on the front. Try a party supply store. I like the images here. Something festive, you know, something cheery to cheer the cheerless, to make them think about the live tapu!

Keep in mind, only if you follow 
these wishes can you say with assurance,  
It's what she would have wanted.

How great is this, huh?
A labeled portrait of me!


  1. You'll want to see an attorney to make this stick- which reminds me I need to get this taken care of. When they are done with you, they cremate what's left and mail it home to your family. Let's see them put a dress on that!

  2. I think "Let's see you put a dress on that!" is going to be my new catch-all phrase. Thanks!

  3. Glenda Soucy-BentJune 18, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    I was really feeling that pink one...because I know how you love pink...tehe. I must admit that I was a little amused by the fact that you wouldn't even drink out of a pink cup...yet you own a pink cup...hmmm.

  4. I have a few pink cups here for visiting girls. I'd die of thirst before I'd use one myself.

  5. Glenda Soucy-BentJune 18, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Aren't you happy I'm reading your blog now? I think I may have lost my rainbow bracelet somewhere in your place. :( I gave my lawyer friend your blog address, I think he'll also enjoy reading your thoughts. :)

  6. Found the bracelet!