Location Location Location …

This past weekend, my siblings and I took our mom shopping. No, we didn’t head down to the mall. Nothing that conventional. And we didn’t hit the grocery store, either. Far too boring.  Instead, we headed to the local cemetery to buy a plot of land.

For those of you who haven’t been following this blog, on November 28th, 2009, my dad passed away. My mom, unable to part with him, purchased a beautiful urn-for-two which she keeps on her bedside table so she can talk to him at night. But now my mom has decided it’s time to pick out their final resting spot.

And it’s all about location.

Of course, there’s criteria to be met. Dad had mentioned – repeatedly – that in the afterlife, he didn’t want his feet wet. Because he was an early riser, Mom thought the plot should face east. And finally, it was important to live in a neighbourhood with a few of Dad’s friends and co-workers close by so he would have someone to visit.

For an hour, we wandered through the cemetery, reading names and dates on headstones, with Mom pointing out the headstones belonging to people Dad knew. When we’d seen who lived in each neighbourhood, we got down to the nitty gritty of the landscape. Slope of the land, view from the plot, and the general appearance of the surrounding area.

In the older neighbourhoods, the ground had settled and several of the headstones were crooked. Now, to give you an idea of how exacting my mother is, my BIL once claimed that my mom said to my dad: “Don, move the house. It’s a quarter of an inch off center.” Which meant we kept on browsing until we found a lovely section with a sidewalk-like foundation for the headstone to stand on.

Bingo. We’d found the right neighbourhood. Now all we had to do was pick the site.

At this point, we decided it was time to check on availability and price. While we were pleasantly surprised by the cost of the plots, the lack of availability indicated this was a tight market.

In the end, we narrowed the choice down to a beautiful area with a park bench for visitors, flowerbeds filled with trees and bushes, good drainage for heavy rain or melting snow, and even some wildlife nearby … a stone statue of a deer at rest on the ground.

It promises to be a quiet neighbourhood filled with old friends – and I imagine – quite a few new ones, too. It will be handy to the children, an important consideration if you want frequent visitors. And above all, when both of my parents move into the great unknown, it will be the last piece of land they will ever have purchased.

If you had to pick out your final resting spot today, what kind of location do you imagine you would choose?

About Sheila Seabrook

Author of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Posted on November 16, 2011, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. Sheila, this is so very lovely 🙂 I spent ten years in RE so the phrase hits home … even afterlife it seems location is the battle cry of the buyer 🙂 I have been told I have this abnormal avoidance/avoidance issue with death related “stuff.” But we are loud, passionate Italians and have great after death parties,and make frequent visits to the cemetary. One would have thought my mom and aunts were having lunch with our grandmother. “Oh, look at that Mary. Lena must have pruned mom’s roses last time she came.” “Don’t worry Mary, I ordered all the Christmas blankets, including one for Sal.”

    I have informed my children to take the ferry to Fire Island and dump my ashes in the Atlantic. My luck, they’ll take the Staten Island Ferry and dump me in the Hudson, I’ll travel upstream and end up as ground water next to my grandmother and Sal, my dad.

    • My Grandmother wanted her ashes scattered in the Atlantic somewhere around Fire Island. Instead, we tossed my Grandmother’s ashes off Montauk Point. Picture 30 or so adults–several in their 70s–scrambling over huge rocks in the jetty to get to the point. It added a levity to a somber event.:)

    • Florence, I love the way you describe your family. Loud and passionate makes for interesting family gathering. I hope you get your wish and end up in the Atlantic. And if not, well at least you’ll have your family to entertain you for eternity. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love the consideration you all took with this decision. It’s very touching. I like the idea of there being a ‘place’ where family and friends can visit. That said, I don’t like the idea of being buried underground. I want to be cremated and have something done with my ashes. I’ve read there is a way to create a coral reef out of ashes. That makes me smile! 🙂

    • Ginger, I agree with you about having a place where family and friends can visit. And yet, the coral reef idea sounds amazing. What better way to give back to the planet which has supported us than to gives our ashes back to increase the coral reefs. Wow, I definitely need to check this out. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Very lovely post. As for me, there will be no particular location. I prefer to be cremated and sprinkled where they like! The garden, perhaps?

    Better yet–how about the compost pile? That way I can continue to contribute to their lives in a meaningful way. 🙂

    • Oh, Dianne, the compost pile … you slay me! LOL! Either way, you’ll end up in someone’s garden, which happens to be your favorite place in the world, right? 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Bless you for handling a somber subject with a light touch, Sheila. You, your sibs, and your mom chose well.

    • Pat, I’m one of those people who laughs when I’m nervous so I tend to make jokes at inappropriate moments. That being said, it’s always better to laugh than cry. And we did chose well … my mom is happy so my dad will be happy. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. My ashes go the way of all the other family ashes (pets included) … into a stream in The Netherlands.

  6. When my sister died at 18, my dad bought 2 parcels of plots (a total of 10) and Chris was the first to go there. This is in a little town in southwestern Ontario.

    I am now in Alberta. I want to be cremated with half of me in the Bow River in Alberta, and the other half sprinkled in the family plot in Ontario. I can finally be in two places at once!

    • Ah, to be two places at once, something woman all over the world desire, something we can finally achieve in death. This is priceless, Suzanne. LOL!

      We saw many headstones with the children deceased before the parents and for me, this is always the saddest part of visiting the cemetery. Your intention to divide your ashes between the two sites is a great idea and one I’ll definitely remember and pass on to others. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a wonderful post. I love how mindful you all were about the location of this final resting place. It sounds like a lovely place to visit. I don’t yet know what I want. I think I want to be cremated but I’m not sure where I want my ashes spread, maybe set free in the wind from the top of a local mountain in the Canadian Rockies. The most memorable resting place I know is my MIL’s. She was a member of the Fort Yuma Indian Reserve and although she spent most of her life in Canada, she wanted to be buried at home. When she passed, we flew her home where there was a 24 hour wake consisting of singing and dancing and gift giving. Then, before the sun rose, her remains were carried to the cemetary where gifts of blankets and clothes covered her casket. As the sun rose, the offerings were lit on fire. I’ll never forget how the glow of the enormous fire met the brilliant orange of the sunrise as it spread across the Arizona desert.

  8. Sheila,
    What a wonderful and thoughtful thing you’ve done for your parents. I’m in complete denial that my parents are getting older. I know my mom wants to be cremated, but not sure about my dad. Although morbid, these discussions and plans need to be made in advance. I’m awed at you, your mom, and your siblings for being so forward-thinking.

    • Christy, I lived in denial, too, until my dad passed away. Quite possibly because he did not want to discuss it. I believe my mom is more open to these discussions because she looks forward to the day when she can be reunited with her beloved husband. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  9. The thought and attention you put into finding just the right location for your father is beautiful. It is different for every person. My father always told me to stick him out with the trash. Of course I couldn’t do that!

    Up until recently I never felt a need for a place to go visit. My immediate family doesn’t have any plots. But a few months ago visited the place where my sister’s ashes were scattered and scattered my father’s ashes there as well, 10 years after his passing. I plan to have mine scattered in the same place. My grandparent’s on my father’s side and beyond all rest in one large family plot. My grandfather on my mother’s side will be laid to rest in Arlington.

    • Out with the trash … LOL! I can tell your dad had a good sense of humour, Debra. 🙂

      Scattering the ashes in the same location never occured to me until today. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Lovely post, Sheila. I’m sure your mom appreciated your time and respect for her wishes.

    Both my husband and I want to be cremated and our ashes scattered in the mountains. That’s true of my folks as well.

    • You’re right, Jan. She is so thankful for our support. And it seems like a lot of people today love the Rocky mountains. They’re so awesome, a wonderful place to spend eternity. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  11. Sheila, sorry for pitching in so late.
    Lovely post. And with such a deft touch too.

  12. Sheila, what a lovely post about a difficult subject. You and your sister were so kind to give your mom the time and attention she needed to make this a good decision. God Bless you.

    my mom was recently diagnosed with alzheimer’s and she had to name someone to make medical decisions. (Guess who she chose?) but that got me thinking and since i’m single, I filled out the same papers, naming my children to make decisions for me if I’m not able to do that. They know what I want and why I want it and that’s all that matters. It’s good to get this done ahead of time.

    thanks for a good read.

    • Hi Louise … I’m always hopeful they’ll come up with a cure for alzheimer’s. My youngest sister works in a alzheimer/dementia facility in Calgary (can’t remember the name). As much as we hate to think about or talk about these topics, it’s important that we do.

      Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  13. Hi Sheila, there you are.

    Last week Rachel talked about medical directives (which is more important than some realize) and today gravesites.

    I, like you Sheila have a tendency to laugh when nervous and people always misunderstand. I hate it, but what can you do?

    You handled this subject so well. And the patience you and your sister displayed, well, older parents can stretch our limits.

    I remember when my father died. My mother couldn’t put his ashes in the ground. So he’s in a wall by the front door in a mausoleum. And there’s room for mom later. So that at least is taken care of.

    I don’t care how you look at it, it’s never an easy job. But at least the decision is behind you. Big relief.

    Thanks Sheila! See you soon. And thank you so much for all your visits and comments. You have been so encouraging. 🙂

    • Karen, I missed Rachel’s blog last week. I’ll have to go back and check it out. Thanks for mentioning it. And you’re mom sounds like mine. If/When we’re in the same situation one day, we’ll probably feel exactly like them.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. Lovely post, Sheila. Beautifully written. I’m like Dianne above. I’d like my ashes somewhere on the earth helping flowers grow.

  15. I think it’s better to pick out the location together, so you have a fun memory of it rather than a “rush” to find the spot after a death. Thanks for sharing this experience and I hope others might consider doing it. My late husband asked me to get his burial plot almost a year and half before he died. It wasn’t easy to do this at the time, but when the time came to use it – the experience was easier (one less decision to make).

    • Stacy, you’re so young, I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for you. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your dear husband.

      Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  16. Sheila, this is a lovely post, and funny even!

    My father passed away in 2007, and I remember going to look for a plot with my stepmother (after the fact), and we had a lot of the same considerations – facing the sun, near some trees, etc. It’s funny how you don’t think about it all until you need to, or at least we didn’t. So it’s good you got to do it with your mom in advance so you know she’s going to love the place you picked.

    • Julie, you are so right when you say we don’t think about these things until we need to. Perhaps it’s the survival instinct that makes us shy away from thoughts of our own immortality.

      I’m glad you also found the perfect spot for your dad. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  17. Interesting topic, Sheila. We’ve burried both of my husband’s parents and my dad. All picked out their final resting places themselves before they needed them, as have my husband and I. A lovely country church, under the spreading trees for us, near my parents. Let’s hope it will still be there when the time comes and not paved for a parking lot.

    • Diane, a country church with spreading trees nearby sounds like a lovely spot. Your husband’s parents and your dad made a wonderful choice.

      And I don’t think they’re allowed to pave over cemetaries, are they? Gosh, I hope not!

      Thanks for sharing!

  18. Catherine Johnson

    What a positive outlook for a difficult subject. A lovely personal touch. Thanks for sharing!

  19. lynnkelleyauthor

    I haven’t given it much thought. Not ready to deal with it yet, but when the time is right, you can bet I’ll think back to this post and remember you and your mom looking for just the perfect spot. Very nice and in some way peaceful.

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