Pencil Stubs Online
Reader Recommends


Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell

Planning The End

I always felt younger than the calendar said. This was probably due to my being the “baby of the family”. I was the youngest of 20 cousins and was cosseted accordingly.

Another thing that encouraged me to think I was younger was that my friends are of all ages and interests. This puzzles some people who liked to flock with birds of a feather. Because my interests were eclectic, I was attracted to people different from me as well as those who echoed my beliefs and it kept me thinking I was young,

But lately, I have become more introspective and realize that at age 82 I am near the end of my life. This is a sobering thought. How am I to prepare for leaving this world in an orderly manner? It is time to consider how to prepare and simplify the way my family and friends will adjust to my absence. As the youngest in my generation, I have seen many pass before me and have had to deal with the detritus of their lives. I want to spare my immediate family that burden and thus have decided to take care of as much as possible before that day when I hopefully slip away quietly in my sleep.

Dying is not easy or pleasant to think about yet. I hope that when my time comes, I will be tired of life and welcome the great sleep. At least that is how I feel today. Due to the experience, I have had in dealing with the deaths of others and the aftermath, I have already taken many of the necessary steps to spare my loved ones. Already in place are:

  • My will
  • A trust
  • Delegated Power of Attorney for my healthcare
  • Delegated Power of Attorney for my fiscal matters
  • Begun completing Next of Kin files
  • Had my home evaluated for my safety – removed rugs, put up grab bars, etc.
  • Am planning to tour senior living options so that if I break a hip, develop another serious health problem or most horrifying have dementia and can no longer live alone, we will know where I prefer to live.
  • Begun to give items that are precious to me to people who will appreciate them.
  • Am developing a collection of essays I have written to leave behind a record of my thinking and interests.
  • Decided that cremation is the best solution as I wish to have a tombstone at a plot in the Jane (MO) Cemetery and as it is 600 miles away, it may not be convenient to transport me there right away and a small box in the closet isn’t very intrusive. Caskets are very inconvenient.

Although my plans are simple, I know that mishaps can occur. I have heard stories from reliable sources about such things. In one case the crematorium in a small town stored the “cremains” (Yes, they all look alike.) in large coffee cans until the family chose a suitable container. A new employee was sent to scatter rocks on the sidewalk to prevent an accident on the icy way. Yes, he used cremains. When the family came there was nothing to do but grab a handful from other cans and recreate “Uncle Zeke”.

I want a celebration of my life, rather than a doleful funeral. I recall going to a service that freaked me out. The church had a very low ceiling, and the crowded room enhanced the feeling I was in a coffin myself. The preacher was determined to give the best Hellfire and Damnation sermon and scare us into behaving. He kept repeating “Bobby wants you to come to heaven and be with him. You must repent and be prepared to go.” All I could think of was “But I’m not ready.”

I prefer to have people I love gather to exchange stories about funny things I have said or done, any kindnesses I have shown, and that I tried to make the world a better place.

Click on the author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.


Refer a friend to this Column

Your Name -
Your Email -
Friend's Name - 
Friends Email - 


Horizontal Navigator



To report problems with this page, email Webmaster

Copyright © 2002 AMEA Publications