Monday, February 16, 2009


Several things recently have given me cause to consider my death. I suppose it's not unreasonable to consider one's death. Death is a process that is occurring throughout our (so called) lives. In living, our lives are progressively extinguished, until finally we're finished. It's a process that extends over a period of time.

Even so, our particular existence could be considered highly problematical since a normal sperm count consists of about 20 million sperm per ejaculate. Your particular swimmer was just lucky or (as you like to think) the Mark Spitz of his team. Death, on the other hand is certain. It comes to us all. It's just a matter of time.

I suppose the saddest prospect of death is to have lived an inadequate life. And, I believe, the greatest deficency one can have in his life is that of integrity. Since I can now see the finish line, I believe I will leave this world without ever having had to cheat anyone. Fortunately, my parents instilled enough pride and realness into my soul and enough talent in my DNA that I have never desired to take advantage of anyone.

Another measure of a worthwhile life is how much fun you had along the way. I don't mean the excitement and rush of theme park-like adventures, but the pleasure and sense of accomplishment of jobs well done. I have often been accused of keeping my nose too close to the grind stone to the detriment of other more worthy efforts. But what is most worthy is in the mind and heart of the practitioner. It's not fair to transfer your preferences to someone else.

But what happens to us in death. The world's great religions postulate a survival of some sort, if only in spirit, although there is no absolute proof of this in a scientific sense. Many believe as I do that we enter a state of nonexistence similar to what we were in before we were born. Should we fear this? Probably no more than our concern for what our existence was like before birth. Where were we then? The pre-birth state and the after-death state are simply mirror images of each other, no more and no less.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you seen a movie lately or watched television? Have you even considered the latest presidential election? Have you watched the moral decay of our country and the stupidity strangling the world. There is a storm raging across America. Alcoholism, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, school violence, child abuse, pornography, rape, robbery and murder pervade our nation. America and the whole world is drowning in wickedness and immorality. Should we fear leaving this mess?

I am not unhappy with my life. My greatest advantage was having a wife who understood me and loosened the reins to let me explore my limits. And I have!

I have had a wide and varied work experience and I have been blessed with four great kids. I have also enjoyed the ability to give something back to my country, my employees and to my family. You know your life has been blessed when you have had such a surplus.

However, when I go I want a marker of my death. This being so and to get what I want, I have decided to buy it for myself. Markers have been important to me since I saw my granddaddy's grave (see picture above) in Brewton, Alabama. He has a large marker with the word RICHBURG prominent across the top.

I looked at my granddaddy's stone marker and felt a sense of pride. He was buried by my daddy's sisters and their families. What occurred to me was a sense of shame for my daddy's grave site. My dad was buried in the Military Section of Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama by me and my sisters. My mother has a burial plot next to my dad. Because of cemetery requirements their grave sites are marked by a flat bronze plate with a bronze flower vase. I never had felt very good about this.

Recently, when my wife Joan and I discussed our own burial plans, I wasn't too concerned about where we would be buried, but Joan was. She was anxious to get things worked out and settled. She liked the idea that we would be buried in Greenwood Cemetery where my parents were. She was able to get me to think things through and decide what our burial plans would be.

With my granddaddy's grave site in mind, I insisted on a marker. This removed consideration for several options we had in mind, so we consulted with the staff at Greenwood. While thinking also about my momma and daddy's grave site, I asked what was the possibility of disinterment and reinterment of my parents at a different grave site. The option was available, so I thought further about what my momma would think about this. Momma always wanted all her family to be around her and, while she was alive, she was never able to do so.

My sister, Janie, was also thinking about her burial plans for her and her husband Larry, and we were asking questions for her as we considered our plans. Finally, I came up with the idea of getting six plots and relocating momma and daddy to the middle plots with Janie and Larry on their left side and Joan and I on their right. In this way I could get everybody together in a family-like plot. I could also get my momma and daddy a large marker with smaller markers for their kids next to them. I couldn't get my older sister to consider the family plot idea. She prefers to remain in New Hampshire and be creamated.

It has been said that it is sad when one of our parents dies. It makes us one less person inside. But that's one of the major consequences of death. How it affects our loved ones. The saddest emotion we can feel is guilt, but try not to let this response take hold. When I'm gone you should speak freely of my shortcomings and my flaws, but only if you seriously attempt to learn from them. Also, don't ignore my virtues. Death is acceptable if you are surrounded by your kids.