Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grave robbers

Well, mother died last November and my life has been all full of grief and angst. Today, it's all about angst on a shoestring. Tomorrow we'll second guess the grief.

As Executor, and as we wind down the estate, one of my duties was to buy her a tombstone, grave marker, head stone, blah, blah, blah.

My mother hated money spent on the dead. "What a waste of good money!" she would say after we would leave a funeral. "They could have driven themselves to the cemetery and saved all that money on the limo!" and "It isn't like Evangeline knows she's spending eternity in a cheap coffin -and who in the hell will ever see that thing again?"

The good news is I paid for a budget funeral, which would have made her very happy. Cremation, followed by a sensible container, and sensible urn vault (to prevent collapse) and no limos. I did change the funeral home. She wanted to go this other one in town thinking it would be less expensive and instead we went to "Schaffner's" (this funeral home hasn't been called this in many many years - all us old timers, however, remember the family that once owned it) because calling hours were about ME, and I wanted SPLENDOR, not to be stuck in a windowless room waiting for people to arrive.

So during my blog-o-cation I decided to buy her tomb stone from Burke and Haire, my hometown's most trusted name in graves and plots. Nothing fancy - it matches my grandparents, uncles and their wives, great aunt's and their husbands, blah, blah: gray granite, and shaped like a camel back sofa. As I was about to look at the bill, Mrs. Burke said that there would be an additional charge from the Cemetery Association of $250 for a foundation, and then Mr. Haire handed me the contract.

Reader, I tell you when they showed me the bill for said stone I almost needed buried as I nearly died of heart attack.

These are not cheap! A basic stone is expensive!

Why so much? WELL, there are all sorts of middlemen (the quarry, the sandblaster, the finisher, the transport, the installer...) and holy crap I was in shocked. If mother were alive she would be having a kniption: "You paid HOW MUCH? They saw you coming down the pike, mister..."

But what are you going to do? I can't let her get stuck with a stone that is not equal to her position in the family and station in life. Besides, if I went on the cheap for this, people would talk. No one is going to be able to say "Poor woman. Cookie must not have loved her." Hell, no, that ain't going to happen!

So I girded my loins, gritted my teeth and signed on the dotted line and handed them a check. The stone should be in place by the first anniversary of her passing in November as the cemetery only installs foundations twice a year.

There is some more family matainence that I need to do in the plot. When that plan (or is it a plot) comes to fruition, I'll tell you that tale.


  1. Sheesh! Makes me wonder if I shouldn't start carving my own now, just to be sure.

  2. Let me tell you, if I could have I would have gobe out and bought a three-hundred granite boulder and sandblasted it myself, I would have.

  3. And Mrs. Burke shows me another stone, almost double the size and it's only $200 more! Evidently, the get you on the first 200lbs, the next 1 is like free!

  4. "You paid HOW MUCH? They saw you coming down the pike, mister..."

    How can you miss them when they never really leave?