05 February 2011


My best buddy died in 1999.  We had wonderful times together, amazing actually.  He was quite a craftsman and his widow still lives on the 240 acres they had just through the woods from us, perhaps 2 miles by canoe...a bit further by road.  Many late nights sitting around the old ashley stove in the winter talking of this and that.

He had, for years, told me that he wanted me to build his coffin and to have him buried on his land...he spoke of that with more frequency as time went on.  I used to call him Doctor Death, jokingly.  A year before he actually died I went to the county courthouse to get the paper work to set aside an acre of his land as a cemetery, legally and in perpetuity...brought it to him and he fastidiously placed it in his 'to do' file.  The following Valentine's day, Cheryl and I rec'd a beautiful card from him and his now widow asking us to stand up for them at their wedding.  Mind you, they'd been living together since the 70s...A friend of ours is the federal judge for this district, a huge bear of a bee keeper (also used to farm with horses)...in June we went to the court house and the five of us (along with the judge's assistant) met and had a simple ceremony.  Beautiful.  Followed by drinks and celebration with just the four of us overlooking their lake.  

He never did take action on that cemetery plot...that November he was out chainsawing some logs down by the lake and passed out.  When he came to he made his way to the house saying he was sick and went to bed.  He stayed in bed for three days, with just occasional soup for sustenance.  His wife finally told him he had to go to the doctor (he hated doctors)...drove him to Park Rapids, where they airlifted him to Fargo...he'd had a brain hemorrhage...he never recovered from surgery.  Cheryl, his wife and daughter and her husband and I were with him...his daughter and her husband had brought him a canoe paddle...and told his slumbering body it was to 'improve his stroke'...he loved puns, the worse the better.  After the doctors consulted with all of us we made a joint decision to pull the plug on him after they harvested his organs.  He was brain dead.  I called the county to find out about burying him on his land, but since he'd never taken action...and there was a 30 day period where anyone who was a property owner within a couple of miles of him could comment on making a cemetery there we didn't have time.  Also, in order to cross the state lines we'd need to have him embalmed...we had him cremated...and I got a number of our friends together to build a spirit house for him.  It is in the place where he'd wanted to be buried.  Some of his ashes are in an urn beneath it...and memories that others wished to share are inside the spirit house...we had a wonderful gathering, and the remainder of his ashes were spread by his brother over the lake...out of a friend of ours' float plane.

If you want to be buried on your land...take action now, don't wait.  Whatever you plan for your resting place, how you wish your body to be treated...take care of that now.  Don't wait.

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