Grow me a tree

Gary asked me for a friend’s address and phone number. This wasn’t the first time.

“When I die,” I said, “You need to keep my phone. It has all the addresses and information you need for our family and friends. You may find some pretty good pictures, too.”

I didn’t mean to sound morbid, but everybody dies. It’s the one common denominator that, in the end, makes me no different from queens, presidents, highly paid actors and sports heroes.

Gary also knows where to find my passwords—the keys to every account from social media to banking to credit cards and other bills.

Ben Franklin and Winston Churchill and Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley didn’t have to worry about leaving password lists for their loved ones. Instead, they probably had to make note of things like safe combinations and where to find their journals, autographed baseballs, or gold records.

Everybody should have a password list. It’s also important that the person you trust above all others can access it. 

It would be a disaster for Gary to tidy up my affairs and erase me from social media without that information. I’m not planning on punching my oneway ticket to Heaven anytime soon, but when I do, my husband will thank me for making the business end easier on him.

He’ll also know where to find my journals—provided I do not decide to dispose of them. My journals are a bit too much of me. Boring.

Gary is aware of my last wishes. I tell him all the time.

“I don’t want any pomp and circumstance,” I say. “Don’t spend a bunch of money on me when I can’t enjoy it.”

I will spare anyone from gazing at my not so lively self. I’d rather my family and friends remember a smiling, laughing, animated me.

Society is responsible for putting a negative connotation on death, which is the most certain fact of life. Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking, compared death to birth.

He said that a baby doesn’t want to be born or die out of the safety and security of his mother’s womb any more than an adult wants to die or be born away from the people and places he has come to know.

Yet, one could say that babies are born into the world or die out of the womb and into their mothers’ loving arms, just as they will someday die or experience birth into the arms of God.

Those who know Christ may fear the process of death, but not the outcome. That’s why I prefer a festive wake (covered dish) over a solemn funeral.

Before my father died, he said, “When I’m gone, tell people not to buy flowers. Tell them to give your mother the money they would have spent on flowers.”

“I can’t do that, Dad,” I protested. 

“Tell them,” he said.

Dad’s sweet request was his way of trying to take care of his wife, but I let him down. I didn’t carry it out. 

Sorry, Dad.

When she reached her mid-80s, my grandmother said, “I’m not afraid to die, but when I do, make sure that I am really dead.”

Her request was unsettling for a young teenager to absorb. Until then, it had never occurred to me that anyone could be buried alive.

I’m choosing the literal ashes-to-ashes, dust to dust route. Gary is to store my ashes in a tennis shoe box—preferably blue—until he finds a minute or two on sunny cloudless days to spread a little of me over my favorite places.

He can use what’s left of me to plant a tree—a dogwood, oak, or maple—any tree that colors the world in fall. I sure hope his thumb is greener than mine.


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