Did you ever think when the hearse rolls by
That you might be the next one to die?
They wrap you up in a clean white sheet
And bury you down about six feet deep.
The worms crawl in the worms crawl out
The worms play pinochle on your snout.
They eat your clothes they eat your hat
They crawl in skinny and crawl out fat
The last time I sang that song was when I was about 12 or 13 years old sitting around an evening bonfire at Boy Scout camp. We all laughed at the words just like we all pretended to be scared when the counselor, with a flashlight held under his chin, told the obligatory ghost story in the glow of the fading campfire. Oh, I admit I may have jumped a little when he looked at me and screamed “You stole my golden arm!” And, maybe I did have a little trouble falling asleep in our tent that night thinking about worms crawling in and out and ghosts looking for missing limbs. But isn’t that what scout camp is all about..to make men out of little boys by scaring the snot out of them?
I was reminded of that experience recently when my cousin Grouse and I were sitting around having a couple glasses of his favorite boxed wine. Somehow the conversation turned kinda morbid..important but morbid. “Have you decided where you’re going to be buried when you die?” I asked.
“Of course, he said, the cemetery in Volga. Haven’t you and Linda made arrangements for a plot someplace? “No. The few times we’ve talked about it ended in kind of a standoff followed by silence.” My brother is talking about being cremated. I’ve spent my whole life hoping to avoid the burning fires of Hell..I certainly don’t want the funeral director to jump start the process. This chardonnay in a box isn’t half bad..what vintage is it?” “The middle of last month,” Grouse said with a laugh. “I dunno, he said, maybe being cremated isn’t a bad idea. Better than being planted like a petunia. Those caskets eventually leak..you know and then you’re nothing but a feast for the night crawlers.”
“I was thinking about being buried above ground in a mausoleum like they have over at Hills of Rest. That’s what our friend Alona plans to do.”I said.
“Yeah, but isn’t that awfully expensive?” said my cousin as he headed back to the refrigerator to unscrew the dispenser on the bladder of wine inside.
“I suppose so, I would just rather not have to think about any of this stuff, you know?”
“Well, said Grouse, you don’t what to leave these tough eternal decisions for your kids to have to figure out do you?”
“No, I guess not.”
“If I were you, he said with the confidence that only a fine boxed white wine can provide, I’d get it done as soon as possible and have it over with. Oh, and be sure to include that decision in your will.”