By Bob Spiwak
This morning (Jan. 16), I got a letter in the mail from The Neptune Society. I get very little mail other than email, so I was excited to open it. I guessed it had to do with assisted suicide. Ms. Gloria suggested it was to have my remains frozen. I scoffed at this — sure, and if I order now they will give me a bonus minus-10 degrees. We both were wrong.
The Neptune Society is, it says in a florally embossed note, “America’s Cremation Specialists.” The note is quite lengthy and they are not advocating a mere toasting, but rather a memorialized one at that. Among the list of benefits that caught my eye was that cremation had less impact on the environment. I question this because environmental experts claim that smoke is a major cause of climate change, which used to be called “global warming.” Or the other way around.
To learn more about the society’s benefits, the likeable company has included in bold italic script a code that can be used to send for more information. This is akin to the passwords for things like eBay, Facebook, Consumer Cellular and the like. Of course I have forgotten all of them and, where I noted them on paper, have forgotten where those are as well. Neptune knows this, hoping that I will hasten to send it to them before I forget. Or die.
They even have that base (or is it vase?) covered. The note ends with the admonition: “P.S. Sometimes deaths happen before you have had a chance to put plans in place. Neptune stands ready to assist you at a moments notice should you ever need immediate help.”
If this has been addressed to me, and I am already dead, I cannot see how Neptune will be of much help.
But wait folks, there’s more. If I return the completed enclosed card I can win a pre-paid cremation. Neptune even tells me who last month’s winner was. Don’t worry, sir. I won’t reveal your name just in case you are still with us.
My wife noted that we must be on some master mailing list because of our ages. We regularly get blurbs from funeral homes, are inundated with hearing aid practitioners’ propaganda, and pitches by sellers of large-button computers that have pictures rather than writing. And it is true, we are of that age. If I did not know that from my birthday party, all it takes is the regular end-of-the-year pantheons of deceased famous people that appear on TV and Internet. Now I am not claiming to be famous, other than in West Boesel, population nine. But the people who notably died in the past year were generally movie stars I remember, or sports people, or gangsters of my childhood.
I am at the age where I won’t willingly drive in the dark in the snow. Something we’ll call “it” will happen that I cannot deal with in my dotage. A flat tire, a deer collision, “it” can be anything. This may be sexist, but true: When a guy first drives a car, “it” does not exist. Over the years “it” becomes an avoidable possibility. Once married and with children, “it” is lurking around very corner. By the age when Social Security is hoping you’ll die and the doctor expects the event, an “it” paranoia circles the cerebrum.
One of these days I will write about the money-saving option of selling one’s remains to a university. It is still a remote choice. But first I want to see if I win the Neptune Society lottery.