Buried on a Motorcycle.

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Two nights ago, 8 year-old Everett informed his parents over pesto chicken precisely how he expects his body to be handled upon his death: 

“I don’t want to be cremated. Or buried.  I want to be standing up or on a motorcycle.  With sunglasses.”

Oh-kay….

As I have mentioned before, many of Everett’s dinner table comments are out-of-the-blue.  Non sequiturs.  The sort of statements that can make a parent’s fingers loose, releasing a suddenly heavy fork to plonk on a plate, loudly.  Or make a parent’s head snap upwards while driving, to search for Everett’s face in the rear view mirror.  The parent must assess Everett’s facial expression to confirm — savant or psychopath?  Obama or Gallagher (the melon-smashing, bald comedian)?  Maybe all of the above?

The burial discussion, though, fell perfectly in context. Not because we enjoy stewing about death over pesto chicken.  Not because we love to insert terrifying thoughts into our kids’ heads shortly before bedtime.  And not because we are, in general, just terrible parents who say whatever the hell we want to at our own damned dinner table, regardless of who the hell is listening and how the hell old they are or are not.

None of that.  At least not in this particular situation.

I started blogging in January, a few days after my 90 year-old grandmother’s sudden passing.  My first post was entitled “Grandma’s Lemonade,” and as you can see if you scroll up a bit to the top of this page, I’ve called my blog The Lemonade Chronicles.  My grandmother (unknowingly) inspired me to always search the bright side in all things (and people), and to start writing about it. My older son, Max, loves to read my blog posts.  Or at least he says he does.  The informed questions he’ll pose from time-to-time suggest that he is at least skimming.  Everett, however, stopped reading my blog when he recognized himself as a recurring character in the narrative.  Unlike Max, Ev has zero interest in the limelight.  My grandmother, who also had zero interest in the limelight, is mentioned regularly in my posts.  When I first started writing, my wife, unbeknownst to me, sent to my mom and her siblings big, antique-looking lemonade dispensers.  This way, they and we could all drink “Grandma’s Lemonade” by the gallon, whenever we wanted. 

And we still talk about all this stuff, mostly at dinner time, at our flat in San Francisco. Including two nights ago, when I raised the subject of what kind of “ceremony” Everett thought we should have when we scatter some of his great grandmother’s ashes in and around San Francisco Bay near our home. So there you have it.  This context fully explains Everett’s seemingly-strange comment about being buried on a motorcycle wearing sunglasses. 

Sort of. 

Because now, his mother and I are left dealing with the consequences of Everett’s instructions.  My wife is an estate planner, so we have to take this kind of thing seriously.  Was there any ambiguity in his directions?  Nope, crystal clear.  Was he of sound mind and body?  Hmm, depends on your definition of “sound.”  If you asked him yourself, I’m sure he’d convince you that you were the unsound one, not he.  Did he propose something illegal?  No, although we don’t own a motorcycle, probably never will, and the powder blue Vespa that Hilary has been coveting for years will most likely not cut it for Everett.  So that means that we may need to “borrow” a neighbor’s motorcycle.  Arguably illegal, I suppose.  The sunglasses we can handle, plenty of those lying around the house.  So yes, we could probably accommodate his wishes, and those wishes might even be reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.

Wait, wait, wait.  I just remembered that he is only 8 years-old.  No judge or jury would force his mother and I to accede to this ridiculous request, clearly made by a 2nd grader with no real sense of what he was saying.  How could an 8 year-old be expected to comprehend abstract notions of death, burial, cremation, etc.?  I’m going to go with this argument for the time being.  And hope that Everett forgets about the whole crazy idea as he gets older.  If he reads this post, he won’t get much farther than the serene photo pasted at the top of our dog swimming in the Bay. 

But just in case he makes it all the way through, and indeed gets this far —

Evie, my boy, whatever you want.  For your final resting place, if you really want to be this guy in the stock photo pasted just below, you got it.  Your wish is our command.  🙂

Thanks for reading.

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41 comments

  1. It is nice how you as a family sit around the dinner table and spend time together. Evie seems to have a great imagination. Hopefully not too soon will his wish come true being Buried on a Motorcycle, right? I hope you have many more days of pesto chicken together!

  2. This is funny, my grandfather’s name was Myron Everett French and he sold Harley Davidson Motorcycles in the 1920;s and 30’s. My daughter is due to have her second child any day now and mom suggested the name of her father Myron (Mike as everyone called him). I told my daughter his middle name and she actually liked Everett for her son’s name. I don’t know if she’ll use it but hey it fits with their surname. I would have been delighted to have such a son as Everett, my own 22 year old son is eccentric enough (But a good person), and I just want to congratulate you on your son’s wonderful imagination.. I was also a precocious child.

  3. I love this post. And you know what, maybe sometimes, the ideas we have when we are younger are not really all that crazy. Without the influence of all the ‘adult’ happenings that life brings you maybe our 8 year old selves really are our true selves.

  4. Hmm. I enjoyed this post. I loved the way you dealt with so many tricky topics.
    Kids and death!
    Thinking forwards
    Whether plans we make now will sustain
    Death and how we think it should be/ could be
    Tradition
    Families talking about death

    Thank you

  5. It’s the standing up part I like. Warriors in ancient cultures were buried standing upright, and so is English playwright Ben Jonson, in Westminster Abbey. So your son is in good company. But hopefully not for a long time yet.

  6. It’s interesting what children say, they are unbound by social or political norms. They say what they like as they are free and swayed only by inclination and moment. It’s a free thought from a free mind of course it’s going to be impressive.

  7. Great blog… I remember seeing an article once about a company that made customes coffins…pretty much anything you wanted.. One that looked like a canoe, Dr Who’s tardis, a wardrobe, a rocket…. So why not on a bike !

  8. I’m with Hilary….I would like that powder blue Vespa myself. I live across the Bay from you, less hills. Your son has style, which I am certain you are going to enjoy for years to come.

  9. I love how you openly discussed death with your son and pondered over his hilarious and interesting comment. I think too often we dismiss kids rather than really listening to them. They can say things that are unexpectedly thought-provoking and surprisingly funny. I’m also glad you’re getting all of this down. Some day I’m sure they will appreciate your writing even more, whether they like being in the limelight or not.

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