Shopping for the Unmentionables

Women love to go shopping! I can say that because I’m a woman and I just adore shopping. What’s more, women love nothing more than to go shopping together–whether it’s to check out the Anniversary Sale at Nordstrom’s, a buying spree downtown, or simply to put a down payment on caskets. Caskets? Yes, you heard right. The unmentionables. Caskets.

Caskets, plots, grave markers. The whole enchilada. At least, that’s what my friend Lucia had in mind. Several years ago, Lucia was about to have the type of surgery only a woman can have and thought it best to have her affairs in order. Naturally, she figured I should do the same, and not going with her was an option she wouldn’t accept, no matter how many excuses I conjured up. So shopping we went.

Of course, this put me in a quandary. I hadn’t really thought about where I’d spend eternity. Perhaps Florida, where both my parents are interred. But I couldn’t imagine being flown across the country just to be buried in hot, humid Florida where alligators run rampant and hurricane season seems to last all year long.

Though it would be nice to be near my mother. She was always such a wonderful storyteller who knew all the family gossip and where the skeletons were, ahem, buried. I remember coming home for a visit and sitting at the kitchen table while my mother shared updates from our family in Venezuela, as she shaped cornmeal into arepas, and chopped carrots for soup. Having my final resting place near her would assure me a lifetime of stories! But maybe not. My father would probably be barking his usual orders, interrupting our conversation with his request for a “cafecito.”

Nope. Florida was out. New York, my birthplace, was out too because there’s no one left there who’d visit me and I don’t want to have the only grave in the cemetery tangled in weeds and whatnot due to neglect.

So I agreed to go with Lucia to a nearby cemetery that is conveniently located near the freeway on a sloping hill. We had an appointment with a funeral arranger and ended up spending the entire day taking a tour of the place, walking up and down hills, around bends and across grassy knolls dotted with grave markers. Everything was quiet except for the constant whir of cars speeding by. Words like tranquil and pleasant came to mind. A girl could get used to this. Yes indeed. Plenty of time to meditate, if that was my style. But I could learn, couldn’t I? A nice place for yoga, too, I’d imagine. All the things I never do now I’d have plenty of time for here.

So I started to get into it and pretty soon I was asking for a quote on a mahogany casket, with marble headstone, and all the trimmings. Lucia, meanwhile, wanted to make sure her parents had plots along with her. She took her time, pouring over each of the options, the woods and the fabrics for the casket interior as well as the location for her three plots. What she wasn’t prepared for was the price for all three. No group discount unfortunately.

We ended up leaving, having placed no orders for plots or caskets. We were just not ready to come up with that amount of cash. I had heard you could order caskets from Costco and I let Lucia know. As for me, I now had my wish list for when my time comes.

For now, I keep it in a safe place, which I’ve told my son about. One day he’s going to be glad I took the time to go shopping with Lucia because having this list will no doubt come in handy. And if when the time comes, he can’t find the list, then he’s on his own.

As for Lucia, she made it through her surgery with flying colors, though she’s still trying to save up for the down payment on the three caskets, plots, et al. Of course if you ask me, she should just wait for the Anniversary Sale.

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