Saturday, July 10, 2010

Can You Dig It?

Hello. I remember you folks. No, I haven't been vacationing. I've been busy this week becoming the "Personal Representative for the Estate of Auntie." Oh sure, she asked the Bank to do it. I can still see her calmly smiling at me, telling me she was doing it for my own good because she'd seen how much paperwork I had to handle when Dad [her brother] died and I was in charge. But now that she has less money, the result of almost 10 years of nursing home care, the Bank felt it would be "morally wrong" to take the job due to their fee system. I believe if you translate that into English it means, "You don't have enough money for us to take our giant fee without the family getting $1.50 each."

If you love your family, don't die. There's too much paperwork.

Of all the items on the list I have to undertake, the one concerning well...undertaking at the cemetery level has been the most eye opening. It's amazing how much money one can spend on such a small piece of earth.

I'm the first to admit I've told Hubby that cremation and a coffee can buried in the backyard would be fine by me. Of course, he'll have to drink a lot of coffee to get a can since I don't drink it at all. Hopefully by the time that point arrives, we'll both be so old we'll just go to sleep and wake up with wings.

I digress. As usual.

The interesting thing about being the person who loves family lore and genealogy, is that I have lots of trivia at my fingertips. Like the fact my Grandfather paid a little over $250 dollars for a "family plot" of 8 graves. When his unmarried brother, whom we lovingly referred to as "Uncle Murray the Bachelor", (as if that was a proper title) died in 1943, his funeral expenses included a new suit for $22.50. Grand total? $325 for funeral AND burial expenses. Of course, the cemetery has to keep making money so they did charge to dig up his final resting place...for $10. That may have been a lot of money that year, but if you ask the two guys with shovels who had to dig a six foot deep hole, they might've argued about that.

When Granddaddy died in 1974, his funeral cost twice as much but the "dig up the ground" fee was roughly $50. And rather than being a backbreaking endeavor, backhoes were now in use to replace those two guys with shovels. But when his daughter, the Auntie who passed away in May, got her turn to join the family plot, it seems ground got really expensive to touch. You'd think it was radioactive or something. I still can't get over the fact it cost $700 to dig up an approximately 3x7 foot space. You know what the kicker is? A guy at the cemetery told me they don't even go six feet deep any more...they go 4 feet under.

So as I shopped for a monument to place on her pricey piece of final resting place, I was shocked to find out that the cemetery has ANOTHER fee. Even though you are utilizing "land" which has been purchased and paid for, did you know you have to pay for the space the MONUMENT rests on?


No, the fee is cheap. Something like 50 cents a food and most monument bases are 3 feet. It's just the principal of the thing.

So it seems that Granddaddy got the best deal when he purchased those 8 plots years ago, because those same spaces of dirt now sell for $1,200 EACH for adults and $350 for infant/children plots. Would you believe even cremation plots are $350?

Man, the next time the seniors at my center finish a can of coffee, I'm putting that sucker aside for a rainy day. Who knows, by the time I die at 100 (Hey, I had a bet with my Grandma and she made it to 99) coffee cans might cost $350 each.


savannah said...

sweet mary sunshine, sugar! are y'all sure we ain't related? ;~) xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Jerry said...

It don't pay to die no more. I never was one much for cremation but more and more the idea is beginning to appeal to me.

Susan at Stony River said...

Oh, great post! I hope Auntie's business wraps up soon for you. I've been busy too - what a week (maybe it's in the stars?)

When I was a kid, we used to spend one Sunday a month in the cemetery, and my grandmother always put flowers behind the family stone as well as in front, where her first husband was buried. I asked my mother why - her baby brother and an aunt were buried there too, but their names weren't on the stone. They'd died during "The War" and my widowed grandmother just couldn't afford the burial and engraving on top of it all.

I promised my mother I'd do it for her someday, and before I left for Ireland, a simple flat granite stone with their two names and their dates, was my goodbye present. The cemetery worked faster than they told me, and the stone ended up being a surprise -- my mother cried and cried. Ooops!

That small flat stone was 2' x 1', two names, four dates. Seven hundred and fifty freaking dollars, back in 1999. I couldn't afford it. But on one visit after everyone else but herself had died in the family, my mother had said 'when I'm gone nobody will ever know they're there' -- so how could I not do it? Especially when that baby brother died at the same age I was when I'd made my promise - maybe that's why it stuck in me so long.

Ugh, I'm losing my mind some days. Come visit me!

mapstew said...

How times (and costs!) have changed.

As my dear departed Da used to say, "The world is changing all the time, there are people dying now who never died before!"



Peggy said...

I like Jerry's comment.
"It don't pay to die no more"

So I quess I won't do it then.
(not for a very long time, God permitting)

Sad that all the costs and paper work has to be done. Aunti trusted you the most to get it done right.

Hope next week is bettter for you!

samurai said...

Sounds like you had/have your hands full. I was the executor for my mother's estate. If memory served her funeral expenses were in excess of $1,200.00 - and my Beloved and i had to cover the difference between the costs and her bank account. Had to make a lot of phone calls.

For some reason God has been showing me a lot of what people have to deal with in regards to the loss of loved ones.

I will add your blog to my list, in case you are able to get fingers to the keyboard a little more often.