Monday, July 16, 2018

Ashes To Ashes

No, this isn’t going to be some wise, philosophical treatise about life and death. It’s just going to be about burial ashes, and not overly philosophical in nature.

I never thought about it until after our first beloved little Dachshund had to be put down at age 15 for near-constant strokes. Ending the life of a pet you love is never easy, but I already knew that from prior experience. On the farm, we just used a .22 round, but the missus would never have gone for that, so we paid the vet $50 to use a needle.

I could have brought her little body home and buried it (my choice), but the missus chose cremation, so that was another $50. The vet then mentioned that our little friend would be piled in the oven with other animals and we wouldn’t get her ashes back. If we wanted her cremated separately and wanted her ashes, that was another $50. As much as I loved that little dog, it made me cringe to think that we were going to spend $150 for what might have only cost 2 cents worth of ammo and a little shovel work. But of course, we chose that option.

A few days later, we got a call from the vet that her ashes were available for pick-up. They were in a pint-sized plastic bag, which was in a similarly-sized box of thin cardboard. I remember thinking that human ashes usually only come back in a quart container (roughly). I remember wondering at the time how a little dog would produce a pint of ashes, but a 200-pound man only double that.Thinking is one of my bad habits. It’s gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years and has kept me awake a lot of nights.

As far as I knew, the only two crematoriums in the area were owned by competing funeral homes, so I figured they did pets as a sideline. Now we’ve all heard the stories of funeral homes warehousing bodies to save burial costs. What’s to stop them from cutting a few corners on cremations, when there’s even LESS chance of getting caught? There’s not a thing in the world to stop the operators from throwing human and animal carcasses alike all together and saving fuel and time by only have one “burn.” Then all they’d have to do is take out enough ashes for each “order.”

How would Fred Fudd’s relatives know if they got Fido’s ashes instead, or Fido’s owners know they have some of Fred’s earthly remains? They wouldn’t. Since the ashes are really only ground bone dust, and even the teeth would grind up fairly well, you couldn’t even count on seeing enough tooth enamel to clue you in. Even DNA testing probably wouldn’t prove anything, since they could always claim that there was residue in the grinder from not being cleaned properly.

I plan on being cremated and my ashes scattered in the grass behind my already placed grave marker. I hope at least some of those ashes are mine, though I won’t care by that time. I guess the only purpose the act will serve is to get at least one of my relatives to visit my grave at least one time. Then again, maybe they’ll just flush my ashes down the commode. I guess it would serve more purpose to give my carcass to some trapper so he can roll it in a holler and use it for coon bait. I’ll have to think about that. Copyright 2018


Tony Tsquared said...

Been there. It feels like your insides are in a blender. A dog is part of the family as they have only love for their humans. It has been 12 years and my 30 year old daughter still has a picture of her childhood companion, a German Sheppard-Siberian Husky mix.

Gorges Smythe said...

I fully understand, TT.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Some people back in the mountain decided to have their own funeral pyre when one of the old folks died. They somehow got a permit and notified the fire department not to come put out the fire and they had their own great big out door cremation. Probably had a real celebration and since there is firewood in all directions, there was not expense.

Gorges Smythe said...

lol - Sounds like a winner, SF!

Annie in Ocala said...

My dads ashes weighed in about 6-7#... Surprised me it was that much 'bone meal'. If it was really his I have no idea but the arrangements were easy and the folks friendly. On what would have been his following birthday I took the little box out to the intercoastal waterway and returned him to his favorite place... Recently I buried my buddy of 14 years.... I loved that dog and miss him terribly. At least he went on his own accord and I didn't have to make the decision.... Hardest part of owning a dog.