I was driving along I-95 in Connecticut when I spotted the billboard for “Direct Cremation.”
Traffic was just slow enough for me to read a few lines of the pitch. It promised no fuss, no delays, no middle men, red tape … and a money back guarantee if unhappy with service. I wasn’t sure who would get the money back.
I started laughing over Marty Robbins and “El Paso” playing on the oldies CD. I was still laughing when Marty’s gunfighter died in the arms of his young sweetheart. Instead of a tearful funeral and the strains of “Streets of Laredo,” maybe the gunfighter should have had direct cremation. No muss, no fuss, no mournful Boot Hill farewell.
Direct cremation may be the latest answer to a world of violence. Mob hits, drive by killings, gang bang slayings with collateral damage. Stressed out serial killers and contract button men doing “jobs.” The bodies just keep piling up. Medical Examiners are overworked and cemeteries are running out of room. The U.S. government, in its infinite wisdom, only gives each American citizen a whopping $242 per body. What to do?
Speaking of overworked medical examiners, I’m reminded of a story I covered in Boston.
This story goes back more than 40 years. The county medical examiner was, if you’ll excuse me, “under the gun” with some of his findings. He didn’t look like Quincy, Ducky. He was a sad, tired, bleary-eyed man in the autumn of his years.
Your favorite intrepid reporter (me) was on the scene. The M.E. was momentarily diverted so I could check the autopsy lab and the morgue. I found the controversial corpse and made a cursory examination. I confronted the M.E. about his findings on the case. He insisted the victim was stabbed to death. I asked him about the several large bullet holes I’d just found. He was speechless.
Direct cremation could have avoided a lot of controversy and embarrassing questions. It’s an idea whose time has come.