If you are a fan of Stephen King’s, here is a real-life mystery for you. In Alexandria, Virginia, in a graveyard called St. Paul’s Cemetery, there is an unnamed gravestone with this inscription:
To the memory of a Female Stranger whose mortal sufferings terminated on the 14th day of October 1816 Aged 23 years and eight months. This stone was placed here by her disconsolate Husband in whose arms she sighed out her latest breath, and who under God did his utmost to soothe the cold dull hour of death.
Some amateur historians and Sherlock Holmes wannabes think the body now six feet under belongs to Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr. Some even have seen her ghost walking the grounds, so they claimed. Since her death, her grave and the cemetery have become a tourist spot of sorts. The irony here is that if whoever buried her left a name on the tombstone, no one would have paid much attention to it. So if you want to be remembered for a long time, don’t leave a name behind.
How would I like to be remembered?
I don’t know for sure, to be honest. It really doesn’t matter, because not too many people outside of my immediate family and small circle of close friends would want to remember this blindingly ordinary man anyway. I do know how I want to be buried, however. Before I get to that, let me digress for a moment and tell you how one of my brothers-in-law — and a close friend — was buried. His name was Eddy. He died a few years ago of cancer. Before his passing, he made the wish to his wife and daughter that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes put in a flowing stream. I was at the “burial” which was held at a quiet brook among some remote hills in Taiwan. I can’t remember the name of that place, but the exceptional beauty and peace of that ceremony will stay with me for a long time.
I am not poetic like Eddy. I’ve jokingly told my two kids ever since they were young boys how old dad would want to be disposed of. It’s a practical approach, a minimal approach, if you would. Land is premium in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cemetery sites are even more so. I know: I sold them for a couple of years when I was a struggling real estate agent. Business-wise, it was an easy sales job. Customers don’t dicker much on burial lots. I stopped doing that because of my mom. Mom was a Buddhist at heart, and she did not feel comfortable that her son was making money “off the dead” 赚死人钱是不吉的， she told me once. I didn’t agree with her. But out of respect for her, I stopped carrying that side line. I told my sons a few times, and I am saying that again: cremation. Find a corner in your backyard, if you can stand me still (bad pun intended), and put my ashes in an urn there. Underground of course, so that the raccoons and skunks wouldn’t use me as a pillow. I don’t mind nature, but only if they take showers once in a while. Oh, make sure you tell your young children where grandpa is so that they won’t pee on me when they are in a hurry. Got it, boys?
Now your turn: How would you like to be remembered?
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