The cedar casket


MY FATHER’S ASHES rest in three places.

One, a mountainside in North Carolina at a Unitarian retreat center. Two, outside his favorite motel room in north Georgia. Three, next to an old cowboy cemetery in West Texas.

I don’t know where my mother’s ashes are. I suppose my sister has them. My only aunt died recently at 88, and she too was cremated. I don’t know where those ashes are either.

But clearly we are people who go up in flames, and that has long been my plan.

Recently, however, I read something that deflected me from that death desire. There was mention of a custom-made casket of cedar. A cedar casket, like a fresh cedar closet, would smell good — to me, the inhabitant, resting inside.

As I pondered the aroma, other aspects, dramatic ones, came to mind. I pictured myself lying inside my cedar casket, dressed in my best and only suit that hangs in the Hacienda closet, my favorite tie with a picture of a happy cow, my arms straight down, one hand atop the other, eyes shut. That end of movement we all reach one day.

It’s a scene as old as the ages, the occupied coffin.

But where would I be planted? Two options: here inside the Hacienda compound with just a small marker that could be removed if necessary to avoid creeping out future homeowners. Or at the neighborhood cemetery beyond the plaza.

I vote for the cemetery. Every 2nd of November, my child bride would sit among our neighbors, there at my marigold-bedecked mound, resplendent with candlelight and incense. And I would be inside my sweet-smelling casket with a barely discernible smile.