January 25, 2009

I Just Called to Say…

I came across the most extraordinary article this morning. It details a growing new trend that I hadn’t yet heard about:

Cellphones, along with technologies like BlackBerrys, have become so important that many cannot imagine being buried without their “third arm.” While it may raise eyebrows, mourners have been known to call the deceased’s phone as the casket is lowered into the grave. Since a ringtone reflects an individual’s personality, the jingle acts as a modern-day Taps.

Manhattan Defense Attorney, Marian Seltzer, buried her husband’s fully-charged Motorola along with his body when he died of pancreatic cancer three years ago. Although the battery expired long ago, she continues to pay the Verizon bill so that she and her children can regularly hear his voice and leave messages on his voice mail.

She had his cell number engraved on his headstone. Seltzer’s husband, John Jacobs, may be dead, but he’s still taking messages. In fact, I called him last week. Hearing him tell me he’d call me back sent a shiver up my spine. (The Community Newspapers – 1.25.09)

Ignoring for the moment the absurdity of paying that much money every month to keep a cell phone on for a dead person, does this strike anyone else as creepy? Maybe it is sweet, but it feels a little creepy to me. I guess maybe it gives mourners a sense of connection to the departed, but I feel like every time I called I would be thinking: This phone is ringing in a dark casket next to the rotting remains of my loved one. The whole thing just seems really sad. And unfortunately it is giving Larry ideas. He’s already planning out some elaborate after-death text-messaging thing.

As for me, I barely use my phone in life, forget about sending it to the grave with me. If you want to put something in there that I care about, may I suggest my Life on Mars box set, a case of Dr Pepper, a few books, some Curly Wurlys, my old phases of the moon watch, and the Pulitzer I will doubtless have won by then.

But seriously, while we’re on the topic of burial wishes, I may as well share mine with you all. I don’t want to be buried. I think I’d like to be cremated (if you promise to make absolutely sure I am dead before you let them do it). Even though I don’t want to be buried, I would like some sort of marker to let people know I was here. I’ve been saying for some time that when I die I’d like something tasteful and simple, like the Albert Memorial, but a little fancier. Obviously some modifications will be needed. I’ve started sketching out some revisions. It’s a work in progress, so I welcome any suggestions.


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