Fry Me to
the Moon by Maggie Van Ostrand
It is widely known that the shortage of cemetery plots worldwide roughly
equals the longevity of bureaucratic plots in Washington.
A few years ago, Mexico City officials began encouraging families
to cremate instead of bury. Now cremations are up 20 per cent at public
cemeteries and 64 per cent at private cemeteries.
Many Roman Catholics still believe cremation is forbidden by the Church,
but in 1963, the Vatican Council granted permission to cremate. Of
course, if your ashes get blasted out of a cannon like the late, controversial
author, Hunter Thompson, you ought to get to heaven faster.
Hunter Thompson's family is about to get his last wish fulfilled.
The Aspen Daily News is accepting 100-word essays from the public
on “Why you want Hunter Thompson shot out of your cannon." The writer’s
family will choose a winner who will bring his cannon to Colorado.
The winning cannon will blast the legendary writer skyward, a distinctly
creative way to go. Can we do less?
Rather than waiting for a cemetery plot in Mexico,
Greece, or the U.S., where real estate is at a premium whether you're
dead or alive, people are finding it more practical to be cremated
like Thompson and are creating interesting things to do with cremated
remains, or "cremains," as they're called in the death biz. Nobody
wants to be scattered just any old place, and a few rebels are following
Thompson's lead and getting quite creative with cremains.
Some want their ashes mixed into recycled paper with flower seeds
in a greeting card for family members. Cards are $25.00 USD each,
with a minimum order of 12. www.creativecremains.com.
Others put cremains in a loved one's favorite place, like dropping
them into the ninth hole, stuffing them into couch cushions in front
of the TV, or having friends smoke them.
Some cremains are stuffed into firework shells while others are mixed
with concrete to form artificial reefs, assuming these reefs are in
the ocean and not in your little kid's fish tank. A special edition
of the comic book "Squadron Supreme" was printed using ink containing
the ashes of Marvel Comics artist Mark Gruenwald, creating an ethical
dilemma for his family: Is it proper to wash the ink off their hands
after they read it? Will Daddy end up doing the last thing he ever
wanted and swirling down the drain?
Ed Headrick chose to live on as a Frisbee so he could fly. Headrick,
the man who invented the Pro Model Frisbee, wanted his ashes mixed
with plastic and turned into a special edition Frisbee made by Wham-O.
A "Steady" Ed memorial disc sells for $55. including shipping and
handling. Farina Headrick, widow, probably enjoys flying hers in the
Don't like these choices? You can always relocate to New Orleans where
they don't even embalm you. They just stick you in one of those tombs
that look like Buckingham Palace on steroids. In the summer, the heat
inside is 172 degrees Farenheit; it only takes a year to make an ash
of yourself. Or you could have your relatives move you into a columbarium.
That's a condo for cremains.
There's a great 10-story columbarium in downtown Mexico City where
Maydeli Rosado Moreno visits her late mother on the 3rd floor. The
building has a stained-glass facade and is filled with glass-windowed
niches containing not only cremains, but favorite items of the departed,
including jewelry, packs of cigarettes, and a music box that plays
"Love Me Tender."
Even those who are still alive don't have what Rosado's unalive mother
has. Rosado said she put her mother there because "There's parking."
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
March 8, 2005 column