Talking Death


I’m having the full-on discussion about death with the girls while we take a short cut through an old grave yard back to the beach house. Six and four and they already want to talk about it. Amazing! Where do I start? Thing 2 has been asking my age for 6 straight days and I can’t figure out why.  My mom died a few years ago and her image flashes up on the screen saver several times a day during breakfast.  Maybe that’s it.  Thing 2 never met her, so Thing 1 tells her what she looked like in person.   Thing 2 asks me if I have grandmothers.  I say no.  I had ‘em but their gone. She says, “I only have one”.  It’s true.  My mom died two months before she was born.  We start to read the names on the weathered tombstones.  All old sounding names like, Wyatt, Fern and Elmore. What were people thinking then? Maybe the east coast in the mid 1800’s was so puritanical that people were given names designed to discourage any sexual contact. Thing 1 asks if people are buried underneath. I tell her yes but the worms got to them a long time ago and only the bones remain. She laughs.  She finds the word “bones” funny for some reason. “Where do the people go?”, she asks.  I tell her what I think, that they go into the collective consciousness like Carl Jung talked about.  Only I don’t describe it like that.  I say they float up and wait for a new body to go into.  She wants to know if my mom got eaten by worms.  I tell her she was cremated.  This opens a new can of worms.  Towards the end of this discussion she wants to be cremated.  She can’t get her head around the worms.  An inevitable topic comes up.  “When are you going to die?”.  I feel sightly offended that she didn’t include my wife but she’s younger than me. I reassure her that I’ll be around for a long time but also not to take too long getting married.  She wants to marry a dolphin right now.  I hope its just a phase.  She’s curious about the ashes and what people do with them.  It reminds me of a running family joke we had growing up.  My dad must have started it but I opted in somewhere along the line because it made my mom laugh every time we told it.  We’d threaten to scatter her ashes over the grounds of this crappy apt complex we lived in when we first moved to Houston.  My mom hated that place.  It was called the Los Brazos apartments, which means “the river” I think.  I remember a mosquito infested ditch.  My mom was also notoriously frugal and was into dented canned food, so we would also tell her she was getting a dented coffin when she kicked the bucket.  She actually respected the sentiment.  In the end she chose cremation which is nice because it gives grievers many interesting ceremonial options. I think we spread her ashes out in her garden in the end. Thing 2 asks where bubbles go after they pop. I tell her they float to the ground like rain.  We start walking back home and the topic turns to pre-school politics.

2 comments on “Talking Death

  1. Tom says:


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