The late Carl Reiner, who died recently at 95, opined in his later years that the first thing he did when he woke up each morning was to read the obituary column. "If I don't see my name there," he said, "I'll have breakfast."
It was at breakfast the other morning while perusing the obituary pages that I said to my wife, "Thank God, I didn't see the name of anyone I knew." She replied with a wry smile, "That's because all of your friends are dead."
Her remark hit home. Too many people I knew, loved, admired or cherished are gone. I was reflecting on that when the mail arrived. Most of it junk mail and catalogs. One of the junk mail envelopes caught my attention. The return address was marked "Dignity."
What can this be, I wondered as I opened the envelope. I will not repeat the epitaphs that flowed as I read the message about the services rendered. The funeral services rendered. There was a survey to complete, and should I do so, a "FREE Personal Planning Guide" would be provided complete with "insightful information for planning ahead."
The survey inquired as to whether I had made such arrangements for anyone in the last 12 months and was I aware that I could "lock in costs … no matter how many years it is between commitment and use." It also wanted to know who would be responsible for my disposal, were they aware of my preference, and did I have a plot. In addition, there were other options including cremation, and as an added bonus, an offer of "friends and family discount travel plans." What next? Maybe in person at home consultations. I used to think that the hearing aid and supplemental health insurance brochures were bothersome.
I got to thinking. Do these Dignity people know something I don't know?
The conclusion -- death is a business – a big business, and now you can say, "a bold business." Yes, life is full of choices, including end-of-life choices. The latter choice I'll pass on for a while, since I'm staying put for the time being.
But hold on a second. In today's mail there was a new one in the mail euphemistically termed "Celebration of Life." What? Celebrate death? No! Yes! I trashed it.
Whenever the end comes, that will be someone else's choice.