Monday, July 25, 2005

Final instructions

The TV show “Family Plots” chronicles the inner workings of one of the busiest mortuaries in Southern California – Poway Bernardo, near San Diego. The staff is an intriguing assortment of relatives and other peculiar characters. The Head Mortician is perky Shonna. She brought the rest of her family into the business.

Her customers can’t vouch for her work, but Shonna’s cosmetic talents are sure to reserve a spot for her inside the pearly gates. As Head Mortician of Poway Bernardo, it’s said she spends no less than six hours on each client, using her morticious magic to turn them from dead to dazzling. During the process, she talks to herself, chain-smokes and conducts a normal conversation with whoever drops by.

Her younger sister Emily is Office Manager and Funeral Director in training. Their eldest sister, pretty Melissa, is Assistant Funeral Director. Melissa's ex-fiancé, Rick, runs the operation. Absent-minded old Chuck is the gal’s father. He’s a laid-back Funeral Assistant, body remover and amateur boxing trainer. All of them enjoy their work and joke about it all day. Then each evening, Chuck loads up all the out-of-town shipments and drives them to the airport for their flight home.

Watching this show, I’ve learned that the mortuary business is not much different from any other. They’re good days and bad days. Busy days and not so busy days. They’re rush pick-ups and rush deliveries, not to mention that all-important run to the airport.

It’s better than my eerie first impression, but it still bugs me.

I don’t want to have anyone comparing what I used to look like with what I look like now – naked and dead. I don’t wish to have my oil changed or be made to look pretty by someone singing rock songs and blowing smoke in my face.

I don’t wear a suit and tie while traveling anymore; I don’t intend to wear one on my final journey. I’m a little claustrophobic. So the idea of being wired, sewn or glued together, packaged, sealed and vacuum packed doesn’t appeal to me at all.

There is one bright spot in this picture:

There may still be hope for me. Listening to eulogies, I’ve notice that old sons-of-bitches like me never die. Everyone I’ve seen laid out down front was the perfect father, mother, sister, brother and friend.

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