Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holy Cows and Death

I've been pondering death a great deal this year. It's something you don't think about until it hits you in the face. Pondering one's own end can feel beyond morbid. But it is important for everyone to make sure their wishes for any post-life festiivities be clearly known. As a funeral director once told me, once the soul leaves your body, your immediate family can do damn near anything they want with your remains.

After witnessing my grandfather's funeral where a pentacostal preacher spent 20 minutes sermonizing on "The DaVinci Code" I immediately called a friend and explained to him that I was writing explicit instructions for my burial and if he didn't follow them to the letter, I would return from the other side and haunt him for the rest of his life.

Which leads me to Billy Graham. One of my earliest memories was watching his "crusades" with my grandmother. I was fascinated by the pagentry, the ritual and the music. Especially the big baritone guy who always sang "Just As I Am" during the altar call.

Billy is now 88 years old and approaching the end of life in this world. His son Franklin is busy making plans to honor his father.

The building, designed in part by consultants who used to work for the Walt Disney Co., is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo -- a reminder of Billy Graham's early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it's completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of multimedia exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie.

What an end for a great man. Lying a few feet from some damned Disney-fied animatronic bovine.

Death is never an easy conversation but it's one you and your relatives should have. Otherwise, you might end up as a taxidermy experiment sitting in cousin Edna's parlor.


Sara said...

Why is this making me think of the movie Dogma? False idols, anyone?

Anonymous said...

When I die, I want visitors to my memorial crypt to be greeted by an audioanimatronic Rick Mahorn.

Anonymous said...

They might as well bury him skewered on a barbecue spit so he can turn over right properlike.

Li Mortacci Tua said...

I can't decide what's worse: rotting and being eaten by worms, or getting burned in a fire.

Anonymous said...

Man, did you ever hit on a real petpeeve of mine. If there is one thing I cant stand its for one of these guys to take someone's death and cheapen it by proselytizing for some weird belief. I (being from the South in general and Mississippi specifically have seen this done over and over.