Last spring, I realized I was no longer twenty and opted for my own version of a midlife crisis: I decided to take ukulele lessons. My perky, young instructor said, “You’re brave! Most of my new students are third graders.”
When it was discovered that men of the House and Senate had paid for the services of male prostitutes, they usually blamed a midlife crisis sparked by dissatisfaction with politics and premature baldness.
But when a woman I have known for years (who I decline to name) had her bout of midlife realization, she went fully into family repurposing mode. And I don’t mean doling out new tasks for holiday gatherings.
Her 50th birthday birthed a life force from within that powered her legitimate wish and rightful demand of all future decedent family members: Anyone loaded with metal orthopedic parts who desired cremation were to leave their parts to her.
OK, let’s call her Wednesday.
Wednesday glanced around the evening of her 50th at the dwindling number of regular party guests. It reminded her that she was moving more towards dying than living, and that anyone in her family could have their number called at anytime. Their implants and prosthetics collected through our legal removal process are destroyed and re-melted, anyway, so what’s the problem? All the left behind implants and prosthetics of her cremated loved ones have found new homes in an artistic end.
She was amazed at the amount of people that never knew they really wanted that metal plate back from Brother Bob’s head. She also reveled in the tiny screws her cousin swallowed back in high school as a dare. Yep. She framed them because he actually did it.
Wednesday made wind chimes out of the titanium hip replacement pieces in all her friends bodies. She gingerly asked the friend who was soon to be crossing over if this was cool, and then they were sure to let their kids know their post-mortem parts were to be presented to her. She now keeps the memory of those friends alive through the songs of their bones. Well, sustainable bones.
I recently read of a grandson who wanted all of grandpa’s once-shiny pieces back after his cremation process. He agreed to polish them all up, put them on a plaque and put a label on it: Grandpa. Add it to the collection of family photos. What a great conversation piece over the fireplace.
That old saying when a person dies, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” doesn’t quite work if they have artificial hips, knees or dental prosthetics.
The last time I visited, Wednesday was working on her latest family plot. She had garbage bags full of the Keystone Light Beer cans consumed by her boyfriend over quite a long span of time. She really couldn’t say for certain.
She was just starting to frame out and begin her latest familiar installation: My Lover in Liquor. How ‘bout “My Liquor Luvin Lover” I threw out?
She wanted something to remember him by, yet the only wasteful scraps he had were in his hand, not his soon-to-be-corpse. He had nothing much to leave her except his deteriorating cash flow which he spent on beer flow.
She saw a program on public TV on her graveyard shift showcasing and artist who made crushed aluminum can art. HA Schult’s haunting “trash people” have graced the streets of many of the world’s most major cities … silently open to interpretation as they travel the world and sit everywhere from the parks of New York City to the Great Wall of China.
And she wanted the same for her beau, a guy who never traveled much less ever got off the front porch.