Monday, April 16, 2012

Family Fertilizer

A little cousin at the funeral this past week. He's reading the headstone of what is probably his 6th great uncle.


Blast From the Past- Making Family Fertilizer (also known as, "your family has rules about who can be buried in the cemetery??") Originally posted in August 2007!


So you think your family has issues? Allow me to introduce you to my family and our by-laws. Yes, my family has by-laws. Not just any bylaws. We have by-laws on how and who can be buried in the family cemetery. And according to the new rules, I am not eligible.
Let’s start at the beginning. And by beginning I mean 3 generations back when my great-great grandfather had five children and one mountain in Southern Virginia. Those five children went on to produce nearly 2,000 descendants, with over 1,600 currently living (no polygamy for us, thank you very much!), most of whom still live in Southern Virginia. And on that mountain there is a cemetery which is rapidly filling up with my gene pool.
While a family cemetery on the family mountain sounds quaint, there's a little problem. They only built a cemetery with space for another 355 people. But we have over 1,600 warm bodies waiting to get in, so a few rules were set. First, “double stacking” will now be implemented in the future. Double-stacking?Yes, it’s what it sounds like. Forget six feet under, we’re going ten feet under. We’re getting deep dirt for doubles. When you signed up to marry that person till “death do we part,” you are no longer getting a reprieve with death. You are will now be buried in the same spot, one on top of the other. This isn’t walking side-by-side through life (or death). This is a king-sized grave, tag-team resting place. An all you can eat worm buffet. Shared family footage. Tomb sharing. An eternal time share, if you will. The eternal double-decker bus. It’s not just kicking the bucket, it’s kicking the barrel. When it’s your turn to buy a pine condo, expect to sleep in the basement.
But even with double-stacking we’re still short on space for everyone to take a dirt nap. So we’re building a vault and encouraging cremation. Family members without a spouse to be their eternal sleeping partner are encouraged to consider cremation and be placed in the vault. The family that couldn’t let me forget I wasn’t married in this life now won’t let me forget it in death either. Can’t you just see it now? A whole shelf in the family vault dedicated to all the single cousins, maybe even in matching urns, taking up as little space as possible. I picture a shelf in the back with a marble plaque hanging over our urns, reading, “Did not find happiness in this life,” or maybe, “Did not return with honor,” or “Couldn’t find a date for the big dance so she’s here with her cousin.”
How will I explain that one when I finally meet my eternal companion in heaven? “Sorry, but I’m here with my cousin. We weren’t kissing cousins until after we died. Now I can’t shake the guy.”
(I have put in a request that I be placed in a lovely cement vase with daisies placed in it. If I’m going to be cremated and put on a shelf, I still want to push up daisies! Preferably next to Colette, Michelle and Mark. I think we could have fun raising a little hell together.)
Now let’s say that, sadly, a child dies. Will the child be doomed to eternal damnation on the Singles’ Shelf? Stuck on a shelf all alone? No. They may be buried in a triple-stacker arrangement with their parents. (If you are suddenly and inexplicably craving Wendy’s, you are not alone. Just sick in the head.)
Even with all of these arrangements there are still a few more rules you must comply with for a place in the Ferguson Family Bus to St. Peter’s. All of the obvious rules- such as your headstone must be made out of one of the approved types of stone. Graves will be assigned by the Family Trustees, because apparently we have Family Trustees. No reservations or dibs may be called in advance. And last but not least, you have to be current on your family dues. Yes, family dues. Apparently birthright and bloodline just isn’t good enough around here. Now you have to pay to be in my family. (I haven’t paid my dues. Ever.)

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