Saturday, June 25, 2011

Caskets To Go

I turned my black Ford F-150  south onto highway 75 and slowly increased my speed to the 65 mph speed limit. The music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney filled the cabin air with the still fresh sounds of the Beatles. Dallas is a beautiful city in early June. Nature's beauty is enhanced to near perfection by professional landscapers taking  advantage of clear cool air, late spring rains and commerical fertilizers to paint the grounds with a palette of colorful flora throughout the city.

Traffic passed quickly to the left and right of my truck. Delivery truckers, housewifes,  and many others. Citizens in all walks of life  drive the biway  hurtling toward their next encounters. Time is money on the streets of Dallas and money rules the lives of its citizens.

Heading toward the Royal Lane exit I notice a new giant red neon sign  flashing "CASKETS TO GO" above a "Grand Opening" banner.  I immediately exited the highway. My curiosity had just gotten the best of me. Slowly, I pulled the truck into the empty parking lot and found a place to park in front of the building.  As I exited my truck an elderly gentleman came out to greet me.

"Morning, Sir. Welcome to our store." He spoke in a soft monotone voice.

He extended his hand causing a starched white cuff to slide out from under the black sleeve covering his right arm.  A crooked smile slowly made its way across his face just under a coal black razor thin moustache.  Long thin oily black  hair fell just above his slender shoulders.

His dark eyes narrowed as he leaned forward and whispered, "Are you in need of a Casket?"

A cold chill ran up the right side of my spine and settled uneasily below the base of my brain. I took a slow deep breath and swallowed hard.  "I'm curious about how your store operates," I said. The spoken words hung silently as if unable to find suitable lift travel to the old man.

"We sell your eternal resting place without the urgency that death imposes on the family. You are going to reside in a subterrianian home a very long time, why not select your casket now, as you want it to be equipped. Are you a God fearing man, sir?" His response was followed by is right eyebrow arching over the top of his wire rimmed glasses.

"I never thought about being afraid of Him," I responded. "I guess I am a fearful of the unknown. But. I kind of thought about being cremated. Do you sell something smaller?"

The small thin smile fled from his face as his eyes narrowed. "Why give the devil a head start?  If your going to Hell, make him provide the fire!" His voice quivered in the seriousness of the moment.

I walked hesitantly into the showroom filled with caskets. Looking up and down the aisles, I observed a large variety of caskets lined with beautiful clothes and adornments. We walked together in silence for a while. For some reason I begain  touching fabrics, adjusting the lids, running my hands down the sides and back over the top of each casket.

Finally, he responded "See anything you like?"

"I was looking for one with a phone," I joked nervously.

"Do you deliver or do I have someone just drive through to pick it up for me when I die?"  I asked seriously.

"Perhaps, your not ready for such serious an undertaking. We at Caskets to Go believe that in the inevitable event of death, decisions about your eternal resting place should be as carefully thought out as the purchase of any new home.  Think of a casket as your last permanent home before your final trip to your reward.",  The elderly salesman spoke in a clearly agitated voice.

The salesman extended his arm toward the front door. It was an obvious signal that my time at Caskets to Go Showroom was over. My chin lowered to the top of my chest and my eyes stared at the floor as I slowly made my way out of the showroom and into my truck.

The engine started quickly and I backed out of the parking lot and onto the service road. Moving forward at increasing speeds I entered hiway 75 and merged with the flowing traffic. The song Blackbird  started to play it's sorrowful tune. I turned the volume up on my Beatles CD and begain to think about what I had just encountered.

Sometimes, while going through life I have ran into death. I have always found myself uneasily dealing  with it's ritual endings. Funerals and burials always seem to be a way for the living to remember and honor the dead.  I want to free my family and friends of the task of honoring my death ritual wishes. I plan on leaving enough money to cover the cost of my going away party. A simple Bon Voyage Party for me with plenty of beer, lots of food and great music that has meaning to each of my time and space traveling companions.

I want to hear the good things people say at our funerals while I am alive. Therefore, do not be surprised if I walk up to you one beautiful day and tell you, "I love sharing space with you on this planet. You are special to me because......."

I am taking the time to love you for who you are, not who you were!