Last Wishes

It was Daddy J’s grandmother’s send-away this weekend. She was a huge part of our lives and I’m sad that she’s no longer around at the other end of our street, waiting with cookies for the boys and stories about dragons. It was a really wonderful gathering this weekend, including a party at a good family-friend’s home for a visiting family from long ago. Lots of cousin playing and visiting.

It was a sickness ridden weekend, too, unfortunately. Part of the Knoxville contingent couldn’t make it, or went home early and sick. Part had already had the Dread Stomach Bug, and some of our family got it over the weekend. Daddy J has a touch of it, but it’s either a milder version or just in the beginning stages or a different bug entirely. I think Rainbow woke up slightly sick yesterday, but rallied after tylenol and advil and felt good last night, and had no intestinal issues at all. I’m kind of on the fence, like Daddy J was yesterday, so I took Rainbow to Grandma L’s for an overnight in case both grown-ups had to take turns in the bathroom tonight.

Anyway, I’m feeling… not horrible, but sort of afraid to eat. I had a decadent loungey afternoon and finished my book, Spooner. Loved, loved, loved it. I have a sort of dry-eye hangover from reading all day, but I’m sipping on a cold martini and will not have a little bun waking me at 5:30, so it’s okay. Early bedtime, and hopefully no tummy troubles.

The family has had to talk about Grandma’s estate and her bodily remains, of course, and I wanted to seize the moment to think about and record what I envision happening after I die. Daddy J and I have talked about it, and we’ve talked a little bit to the big boys about it, but I think writing it out is a great idea, just so everyone is on the same page.

All righty then:

1. I think it would be great if any or all of my body parts could be used for organ donation, but ONLY IF Daddy J and the boys are okay with that. We did donate several of Ward’s organs, and I am very glad that we did, although I could not bring myself to donate his skin or eyes. It was just more than I could do. So, I understand that it may be too much, and that’s okay, too. You don’t have to donate any or all of my organs that can be used, but it’s completely great with me if you do. I don’t want my body donated to science, though. Organ donation = yes. Medical school study = no.

2. I don’t want to be embalmed or have a visitation. If cremation is impossible for some reason, then bury me in a plain wood box where the roots and water and dirt can get in. I do NOT want my body to be preserved in any way, and I very much want my body to be cremated.

3. I would lean toward having ashes scattered over the mountains near Monteagle, at some accessible cliff with a nice view, because that’s where we were married and it’s pretty there. But there’s no rush. Hang on to my ashes as long as you want to. It would be nice to combine them with Daddy J’s and Wardie’s, too, and the other boys’, for that matter, if you want to keep track of them that long, but really, they’re just ashes.

Side note: I was dusting the mantel a couple of months ago and shining up the cookie jar where Ward’s ashes are. I imagined/heard him laughing at me for treating them so reverently: They’re just ashes! Would you keep my fingernail clippings in a special place if you still had them? And maybe I would, I answered, feeling sort of silly. They’re just ashes and fingernail clippings, but they’re yours.

4. Instead of store-bought flowers, I’d be pro people spending money on donating either to the Bell Buckle Park or to the charity/foundation of their choice, and then letting the surviving family members know about it. If somebody wants to set up a memorial foundation or a scholarship in my honor, that would be very nice, I just don’t know what it would be for at this point. I like the whole random act of kindness movement, as family members and friends did to honor cousin Henry’s young transition from life. I like the idea of people choosing what to do to in honor of someone, but it’s also nice to work together to do something big that wouldn’t happen otherwise, like Henry’s fund So, yeah, that part’s up to the survivors, I guess, and what they feel like doing.
(As Daddy J’s Grandma would say: Whatever’s right.)

And… that’s all I can think of for now, what with my fuzzy eyes and empty martini glass and questionable tummy. But, good info to have, I think: donation, cremation, park donation or acts of kindness or… whatever’s right.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Suzanne
    Dec 01, 2010 @ 19:35:51

    Have you ever heard of ‘green burial’? When I found out about Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be buried:
    http://www.memorialecosystems.com/ConservationBurial/tabid/110/Default.aspx

  2. Mama Jamz
    Dec 02, 2010 @ 13:58:03

    That sounds really wonderful, Suzanne; that site is fascinating. I’m so glad there is that movement going on. I hope it gains in popularity. Doesn’t it seem like fewer people are doing the embalming/casket/vault thing? Maybe my perception is skewed because the most recent funerals I’ve been to chose cremation. Green burial actually has a positive effect on the environment, right? That’s so cool to leave that as one’s last legacy.

  3. Amanda
    Dec 07, 2010 @ 02:50:36

    I like it when people make and share these plans with their loved ones. Thanks for this post!

    I did want to add a little tidbit just for the sake of interest, NOT because I’m advocating this choice.

    When my husband completed anatomy lab in his first year of medical school, the students held a special and intimate memorial service for the donors who enabled them to study.

    Like you, I don’t think I could donate myself for medical study, but I loved knowing that the students did this (not a dry eye in the room at that service, apparently) so I thought I’d share.

    So glad you’re writing again!

  4. Mama Jamz
    Dec 07, 2010 @ 13:58:28

    That is really great information, Amanda. I admit part of the issue is that I don’t want a roomful of people making comments about the condition of my body after I die, checking out my varicose veins or warts or bunions or whatever I’ve got going on physically at the point my life ends. I guess it’s television’s fault; the coroners always seem so callous, and the people viewing the bodies seem either grossed out or blase about the whole thing. It’s really great to know that, at least in your husband’s class, the students were respectful about the whole thing and appreciative of the donors.

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