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ASK THE EXPERTS

Just stick me in the corner

POSTED: January 21, 2009 4:00 a.m.

When my time comes, stuff me. There are a lot of people who are troubled by the prospects of their own death.

  

I’m not.

  

Death is the final event of life. What happens after you die is the question most people have. Some believe you either go to an eternity in paradise or hell. Others believe you come back, either as another person or some animal. Still others think you die and that’s it.

  

In the South of my youth, death was a big deal, a much bigger deal than it

is today.

  

The two big events in life were weddings and funerals. The difference is that you had months to plan all the details of a wedding. But for a funeral, you only had a few days.

  

The reason for that is because we had a tradition of the departed being on hand for his or her going away party. We wanted one last chance to look at you.

  

Nobody looks good in a casket. It’s a little box that is not much wider than your shoulders and it often looks like the undertaker had to use a shoehorn to get you in there. They put a little fluffy pillow under your head. If you’re like most folks and have a little excess skin under your neck, it makes you look more jowly.

  

But for some reason, many of us will still look. I have a cousin who was in law enforcement. Many of the bad guys he chased all over North Georgia have died.

  

He used to go to the funeral home and ask to close the parlor door for a minute.

  

Then, he would take a picture of the departed.

  

“I wanted to make sure that son-of-a-gun was dead,” he said.

  

I used to work for a U.S. senator, and one of my duties was attending funerals as a surrogate for the senator. Most of these people I didn’t know.

  

I was dispatched one day to a mountain town where a prominent man had died. He was laid out at the front of a little country church.

  

“Don’t you want to see Daddy?” the son asked as he escorted me down the aisle.

  

I didn’t know his daddy from Adam’s house cat. But here we went down to take a gander at the departed.

  

“Doesn’t he look good,” the son asked me as we stood by the open coffin. I looked at the man, his face coated in that paint that is never the real skin color of any human being, his clip-on tie, and his hands placed in the most unnatural pose.

  

“He looks as good as I’ve ever seen him look,” I said honestly. Of course, I’d never laid eyes on him before.

  

When I came along, everybody had a traditional funeral and burial.

  

Now, there are more people opting for cremation. I’m not quite there, yet.

  

I told my wife to forget about a funeral for me. Nobody would come.

  

Instead, I want her to find a good taxidermist and have me stuffed and put in the corner of the living room. If she remarries, I want that new husband to have to look at me everyday.

  

Roy Rogers used to bristle at anyone who said he had his late horse, Trigger, stuffed. He was mounted.

  

I may not be ready for cremation, but I don’t want to be mounted.

  

I’ll just settle for stuffed.

  

Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is harrisb@forsythnews.com.

 

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