A Grave Matter


Previously published in The Wave.

I was taking in the mail last week – I received the mortgage (ugh) a Burpee Seeds and Plants  catalog (cool), the same Verizon advertisement I get like every month (annoying) and one of those white envelopes that has nothing on it except an address, which makes it seem really important. It’s a promotion for Pinelawn Memorial Park and Garden Mausoleums. It reads, “That’s right. You can buy a memorial site in one of America’s loveliest memorial parks for as little as $40 a month, interest free. …Return the postage-free postcard today and we will send you a copy of Let’s Face it Now (“Now” is underlined),” a booklet every family should have. …When your low total price is paid, you own your property forever.” I wasn’t sure if I was going to burst out in uncontrollable laughter or if I was going to burst into tears and have a panic attack.

A barrage of questions filled my mind, “How the heck did they get my address? Am I at the age where one is supposed to buy their “forever property”? Do they have a master list of all the 36 year olds in New York and every spring this mailer gets sent to them? Do you have to pay taxes on a grave site since it’s property?  If you’re dead, how can you own property?”

I’m a native Long Islander, but I don’t want to spend eternity there. Besides, Pinelawn is in Farmingdale and I have no connection to that area. I do have people in Calvary Cemetery in Queens – names here. I’m thinking that’s where I should go. Calvary is located near Goodfellas dinner, so after people visit me, they can have a nice lunch. Also, It’s accessible by public transportation, therefore family and friends will be more likely to come say hi. Who wants to drive all the way out to the Island anyway?

Calvary it is then.

I figured I should give them a call. But it’s an old cemetery and they may be running out of space. I also want to be buried with my cats* and I need to find out if they will allow that. Last, there is the issue of my husband. On many occasions he’s mentioned that he wants to be cremated and  flushed down the toilet. Don’t ask. This is a problem because I definitely want to be buried with him next to me.

I don’t want to be cremated.  I think it would be cool if, 5000 years into the future, aliens or advanced humans found my body and could learn something ground-breaking from my remains. Then they could make a documentary about their findings, like they did with Lucy from Ethiopia.

“We call her Paula, the Rockaway Beach Hominid. She dates back to sometime in what we call the Trumpozoic Era.”

At the very least,  I would hope my relatives who come to visit me would plant a little garden by my headstone. My decomposing body would act as organic compost.

I was supposed to make gravy that day but was totally side-tracked by all of these thoughts. Feeling contemplative and mildly depressed, I took a walk on the beach in an attempt to clear my head, but it didn’t improve my mood. Then I decided to get some wine because that always makes me feel better.  After two glasses, my gravy was simmering on the stove and I didn’t care so much anymore about the logistics of my burial. “I have some time.” I thought. “I’ll deal with buying my forever property next spring”.

*At Calvary pets are not allowed to be buried with you. In fact, this is a policy for all Catholic cemeteries. Problematic.

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