Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"I see dead people"

Cemetary in Bath, NC

Ok, I know, this is NOT a warm and fuzzy discussion for a Tuesday afternoon.  But, a co-worker’s grandmother died, unexpectedly, last night!  Oh, crap…. What to do?

Hmmm.  I could cook something.  This IS the south.... we cook for everything!  But... for some odd reason, I don't really think, "What's for dinner?" while attending a funeral ceremony. That has always struck me as a rather strange tradition. 

So, let's stick with the basics:  Always send flowers!  Find a good florist and send flowers.  No exceptions… I don’t care if they’ve said:  “In lieu of flowers donate money to the deceased Pilgrims of Plymouth County.”  Send flowers.   My obituary will say, “In addition to flowers, please contribute to the travel expenses of the New Orleans jazz band and the two gospel choirs."  HA.   Might as well have a party. 

Unfortunately, flowers die.

So, for momentous occasions -- good and bad -- I stand by the guidelines:  Choose gifts which are memorable, virtually indestructible, and timeless.

Example:  For baby showers, I almost always give a silver baby rattle.  They are not terribly expensive and when the kid goes off to school, the verklempt parents will look back at that tarnished rattle... cry... and remember your thoughtfulness. 
Silver rattle, Tiffany & Co. 

Funerals, however, are another beast, entirely.  With so many people in the economic crapper these days, the first thing that I ask is:  “Did they have burial insurance?   Can the family afford to bury or cremate their loved one????”   If the answer is no, then give cash.  End of story!

If all the affairs are in order, then the perfect memorial becomes a tad more difficult. 

Here are my suggestions:
1.      Pick something that is relatively indestructible, and something that will age well.  This is NOT the time for trendy!  Silver and silver-plate are great choices. 
Orchid in silver plate bowl

2.     Choose a gift that allows the family to remember their loved one.  For instance, if they loved home movies, then vintage film reels could be nice.  If they loved cooking, then an antique cast iron pan would be appropriate. If they loved gardening, then antique gardening tools might be a good choice.  But, I would probably stay away from vintage shovels.... probably not the best idea with that "six-feet under" thing looming in the near future. 

3.     But, what if you don’t know $hit about the newly deceased?    Here are a few of my last minute gifts/memorial ideas:
  • Donation to charity
  • A favorite book or religious text
  • Crystal vase
  • Photo frame
  • Box

In my experience, the box idea (like the one from Plantation above), usually works well.  It also provides a place to stash alcohol for the family... for medicinal purposes, of course. 

Not a fun topic, but a necessary discussion. 
Gina’s grandmother… Rest in Peace! 

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