Know what makes death real?
Reviewing the computer-generated image of the tombstone, or as they call it “cemetery memorial.”
The cemetery gave me a choice of two memorial companies for Mike’s tombstone. I went with the local one – they do everything in same small town as the cemetery. Seemed nice to support a local business that keeps jobs in the community and has been around for 60+ years.
The woman who answered the phone was very nice. I explained what I wanted – simple, cost-effective, not flowery or over designed. Just his name and dates. No chiseled angels or flowers. No fancy shape. No “best dad and husband ever!” Just tombstone-y. Basic.
We settled on a grey stone (cheapest option) with no special carving. Since it was a single grave (meaning, I didn’t buy plots next to him), it was actually much less than I anticipated. Of course, like everything in this death business, there’s a hidden fee. In this case, a $300 cost for the “foundation” – it’s a cemetery requirement, not even sure what it is, but it’s not negotiable. The sketchy thing is that unlike paying for the grave plot (paid to the city) or the tombstone (paid to the mom-and-pop company), the foundation payment is due to some dude – not a corporation, just a dude.
This whole thing can be done by email and snail mail. Crazy. The company just sent the image by email. Of course, there’s a mistake. Mike’s date of birth is wrong. My fault. Thank goodness for seeing the proof!
Still, even with the wrong date, there’s something final about it. Something more than going to his showing or the funeral mass or burying him. Seeing the image of a grave marker with his name and his dates makes this very, very real. And final.