Graves Matter

My close running friends and I have a tradition on Christmas morning: We meet in downtown Senoia for a 10-mile run to Tranquil Cemetery and back. This year we took a little extra time examining a sampling of the cemetery’s headstones to get a small taste of the history of this small Georgia town. I mentioned to Al that I thought his wife Hope would enjoy visiting the cemetery because I knew she was an American history buff. Al agreed and mentioned that Hope subscribes to a magazine devoted exclusively to historical cemeteries, “Grave Matters.”
I immediately told Al I would use the phrase in a column. This is that column.
Now that I’ve reached the age that I’m eligible for Medicare and entitled to any and all of the various senior discounts offered for people between the ages of 50 to 65 (I’m on the far end of that scale, so now I’m bullet proof), it’s time to give some thought as to what inevitably will be coming down the road.
Facing the Grim Reaper. Biting the dust. Buying the farm. Pushing up daisies. You get the idea.
There are three things we can all be sure of in life, and, ironically, death is one of them. (The other two are taxes and roadside litter.) I don’t know if there is a Guide to Life that suggests when death appears on our radar, but just about now seems about right to me.
Al has already decided; when his time comes he wants to be cremated and have his ashes spread on the top of Siler Bald in North Carolina, his go-to spot for hiking.
Once upon a time I was an avid golfer and I thought being cremated and having my ashes spread on my favorite golf course was the way to go. After giving it some thought, I decided I didn’t want to end up as a divot torn from the fairway by a weekend duffer with a handicap well into the double digits.
When I became a lifelong runner I considered having my ashes spread across the finish line of one of my favorite races, or perhaps along the asphalt of one of the handful of routes I run every day, but then I wondered what might become of my ashes over time, and having them end up in the treads of a radial tire or on the bottom of a stranger’s shoes wasn’t particularly appealing. Other than cremation, what other options did I have?
I’m glad you asked. I did some research and here’s what there is to choose from: Ground burial (traditional), immurement (various above-ground chambers, such as a tomb), and burial at sea. There are other non-traditional methods but for reasons that will be obvious when I mention them, they were not given serious consideration: Exposure, mummification, and composting were at the top of the list (a list that quickly went downhill from there).
I’m leaning towards ground burial, but I’ll make that decision once I take care of the more pressing issues that will follow after my death. The inscription on my headstone falls into that category.
If I’m fortunate enough to still be running up until the day I die, I’m sort of fond of this one:
Scott Ludwig was born 12/10/54
He finally ran himself into the ground on _

It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a much better option than ending up as a divot.

Scott Ludwig lives, runs, and writes in Senoia.  His latest book, “Southern Charm: Columns from a small town Georgia newspaper,” as well as the rest of his books, can be found on his author page on Amazon. He can be reached at magicludwig1@gmail.com.

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