Monday, January 20, 2014

Money on the dead

     I had set today as the deadline for picking out a headstone.  It turned out to be a much harder decision than I expected. You see a headstone is not important for me. If I had everything my way I would put all of his ashes, minus what I need for lockets, in a memorial in my yard. Lane and his dad would like a him to be in our town cemetery. So this is something I am doing to help Lane, His dad, and Jason's friends, deal with their loss.

     Also, I have always resisted the idea that we need to spend thousands of dollars to honor our loved ones. Large blocks of granite with names and dates carved into it does not seem personal enough to express my love. I think instinctively many people feel the same way. The family of people who have died in car wrecks buy large headstones, but still put homemade crosses along the highway. I feel that these more personal signs are a stronger expression of love. Because of all this I intended to spend a minimal amount on the headstone.

     Like with any large decision I figured I had better do some research. I spent four hours Saturday night searching the internet for ideas and prices. Sunday Fria Chica, her six year old son, Huggy Bear (who needs a new name now that she is eight), and I walked through two cemeteries to see what we liked best. We had a picnic and discussed what our favorite ones had in common.

     We all liked as much personal information as possible on the monument. We liked knowing the names of the parents and siblings. Pictures were nice. One had a poem written by one of the deceased grandsons carved on the back. These were the touches we liked.

     As I started to look at my options I was not happy with anything in the $500 - $1000 price range. There was not room for any personal expression. In the $1000 - $2000 price range I could get a bit more room, but it still seemed too small and insignificant to express our love for Jason. For $3000- $6000 I felt I could get what I wanted. I just could not bring myself to spend that kind of money.

      If I wanted to I know I could get a loan for the full amount. Fria Chica offered to give me her tax return. Rolando and Miss Universe assured me that they would help me get the money for whichever one I picked out. I know that if I asked, Jason's dad and his family would pitch in too. The dilemma was that I do not feel like it is money well spent.

     Jason hated for me to spend money on him. He always told me he did not want anything for Christmas. The year before my mom asked him what he wanted for Christmas. His answer was, "Grandma, unless you are going to get me a stripper who will let me snort coke off her ass save your money. I don't need anything." While he was sick and living with me he kept a running total on how much money he owed me. No matter how many times I explained to him that at nineteen he was still a kid and could rely on me he never liked the idea. I know he would hate the idea of everybody spending all of this money on a headstone for him. Especially because I do not think he ever wanted to be in a cemetery either.

     What then was the answer? I was in tears. I wanted to give up and not deal with this right now. If I had not already told everyone the date of internment was March 8th I may have quit. I needed to think out goals for the headstone in my head. Granite is used because it lasts forever.  Jason, to my knowledge, has no children. He will never have any grandchildren. The youngest person alive that will remember him is six.  So realistically our monument only needs to last one hundred years.  What was important to me was the personal reflection of my son and our love for him. Granite seemed too cold to do that for me. That is why we needed it to be big enough to hold so many words and pictures.

     Grace had mentioned that her brother-in-law had made four headstones out of steel. The problem with these is that they do need repainted every year or so. We had looked at them in one of the cemeteries. I liked them. One had peeling paint and was beginning to rust. There was another somebody else had made that was simply a large steel cross with the name and date cut out. It had been painted blue. The family had hung a wreath on it for Christmas. It was one that I liked for the simplicity.

     The shaped I liked best was a pillar. In granite it was going to cost as least $2800 to get a simple pillar. I went to talk to Miss Universe and Rolando. I drew out what I wanted and asked Rolando if he thought we could do it in steel? What about stainless steel? At the funeral home they had priced 8x10 ceramic photos at $1000 a piece. I wanted at least two of these. We found them online for $100. Could we make our own headstone? Am I crazy to try this? He is going to talk to his dad. We are lucky to have a welder in the family. Miss Universe suggested powder coating the steel. Rolando agreed that the finish would last for years if we coated it. If we are lucky we think we can do the whole thing for $600. If we do not like it we can always order a granite one later.

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