I have a dead file, in need of its annual updating.
The file dangles in the front of our family filing cabinet, a red hanging folder filled with all of the important stuff my family will need for when I depart this mortal coil: the songs I want played, the songs I wish to have sung – the how-I-want-them-played-and-sung at my memorial service – along with the scripture, quotes and poetry I want to be read, and what I want printed on the program.
Pretty basic, but important stuff.
My wife and kids know where this file is, they know that all that key info will be right there, as I am trying to be proactive, not controlling. They are mostly okay with this arrangement, and though they don’t know what’s in it, they figure they will deal with that if and when the time comes.
Or, hopefully, my children will simply be able to pass on the whole thing to their adult children under the banner of ‘you cousins can all take some responsibility for grandpa/great grandpa/great-great grandpa here.’
Good Lord willing, that’s the way it plays out.
As is my custom, I review the file at the beginning of the year – though not as some sort of resolution ritual, or anything like that. I am always reminded to do this by all of the year-end/year-beginning, tax-and-estate planning reminders from every direction and the television commercials featuring thought-dead-already celebrities touting ’providing for your family’ with mail-order life insurance. Though sometimes I get those commercials confused with those of some other thought-dead-alreadys and their reverse mortgage ads.
Now there is a spiritual analogy post just dying to be written.
This year, I found as I reviewed the tattered red folder that there is one key piece of information that I keep neglecting to place in my dead file: I’ve got to tell them where the baseballs are. I also remembered I actually have to purchase, and then partially prepare said baseballs.
Yeah, the baseballs.
Anyone who knows me and my family will attest to our love of the game. My wife Amy and I began dating late summer, 1991, as our hometown Minnesota Twins were en route to their second World Series championship, and let me tell you, World Series victories are great new-relationship aphrodisiacs. The following year we got married and had a Twins-themed wedding reception, followed up by family members and the wedding party (60 of us, all told) going to the Twins-Brewers game the next day, after hich we (just Amy and I) followed the Twins on the road to Chicago and Milwaukee for our honeymoon
So yeah, as a passionate aficionado of all things America’s pastime, baseball will certainly be as much a part of my departure from this world as it is in my existence on this rotating-like-a-fine-change-up celestial orb. My immediate family understands that, and figures they will deal with whatever zaniness I have in that red file folder when the time comes, though the one particular aspect they do know of gets the ‘hot potato’ treatment amongst daughter Lindsay, and sons Will and Sam. (Amy wants no part of my baseball bequest and has long since informed all the kidlets that this one will be totally on them.)
Somebody is going to have to put me in the baseballs.
It’s pretty simple, actually, and far more feasible than other preferred options, like a traditional Viking funeral. The whole ship set ablaze and afloat (with my remains on it) while in keeping with my ancestral roots and desires, is impractical and expensive (EPA permits and whatnot) and maybe just a bit pretentious. So while the whole Viking ship thing would be as exciting as an inside-the-park home run, my baseball brainchild is an easy, knock-it-outta-the-park game-winner.
That I hope doesn’t result in me getting knocked around.
Upon my demise, after everything donatable has been donated, organ and tissue wise, the rest of me will need to be cremated. That will leave me as a nifty little pile of ashes, which will then need to be handled in some way. As I have never been one easily confined to conventional parameters (literally or figuratively) I don’t see myself as sitting in an urn or ornate box on someones’ mantelpiece somewhere. Bor-ring.
Hence the baseballs.
It’s pretty simple, really. A set of regulation, major league baseballs will be purchased, then will be autographed by me; some signed as ‘dad’ some as ‘grandpa.’ Then, when the time comes to stash the ash, each ball will have a small core drilled out of it, just big enough to contain some of my ashes. Once the ashes are placed in each ball, the hole will then be sealed up with the drilled-out core and some epoxy, and the baseballs will then be ready for distribution to the next generation(s).
The idea could catch on – a sort of national pastiming-on, if you will.
The great thing about me being ensconced for eternity in baseballs is not only will what’s left of me be suitable for display in a ball cube, on a mantle or in a memorabilia cabinet, I will also be able to remain part of the family in a tangible, practical way.
And we still can.
Ummmm….but please, no batting practice, kids.
“Because grandpa said so, THAT’S why!”