2013.12.18 How to go out with a bang

Here’s how to go out with a bang!!

All right, here’s this week’s excuse. A heavy snow takes a lot of time out of the day. I think I shoveled an entire season’s worth of snow in one weekend, over and over again. Good enough? No, not really. Sometimes I just can’t get everything done.


I don’t remember how old I was when I heard about the last rites of a certain Morenci businessman. If I remember correctly, his body was cremated, then the ashes were tossed into the Caribbean Sea from an airplane.

That story made quite an impact on me. I’d never heard of such a practice, never considered the possibility of such an event. I ran through the scene in my mind trying to picture how it must have gone.

I suppose I had read about people in India having their ashes sprinkled into the Ganges River, but that was another world. In the western hemisphere I thought it was either into the ground or up on a platform for the buzzards. Maybe that last option isn’t too popular, but some people practiced it—those who lived here before all of us honkies appeared on the scene.

Now I see there are plenty more choices to consider. You might want to sink your ashes to the bottom of a lake in a duck decoy or maybe into the heart of a black bear. The possibilities are endless.

Think of Des Moines, Iowa, as the cremains capital of America. It’s the home of the father and son team of Knudsen and Knudsen who will send you to your final resting place by way of a shotgun shell.

Have your ashes sent to the Knudsens. They’ll mix a few ounces in with some gun powder, load up a few rounds and then go bag a pheasant. For 150 bucks, what better memorial could there be for a true sportsman?

The pheasant hunt is the “pine box” version of the hunter’s memorial. One widow chose the deluxe service for about $7,000. Ray Knudsen, Sr., loaded her husband into 20 to 25 rounds, purchased a non-resident hunting license, hired a bush guide, rented an airplane and headed for northern Saskatchewan. He killed a black bear and had it converted into a rug, then presented it to his client. How touching.

Not everybody wants to bag wildlife. Some people only want to get discharged into their favorite landscape. A few even choose the color of the shell casing. And there’s always the choice to decay inside a decoy.

This is what started the whole business. Jay, Jr., was carving a duck decoy and suggested stuffing his father inside when the day came. His father prefers a grouse hunt in Manitoba and a bear hunt in Newfoundland, but the Knudsen’s most popular memorial is loading a hunter’s ashes into a duck decoy. Prices start at $500.

All of these memorials are oriented to the hunter. It makes you wonder how a man functioned as a man before the invention of guns. There must be fitting memorials for us who walk boldly into the woods unarmed.

• A pharmacist might want to get dumped into his pestle and mortared into someone’s medication;

• A decorator might want to be dumped into a gallon of enamel and applied to a bathroom wall;

• A restaurateur could get worked into pie crust for a favorite customer.

I would expect my tree-trimmer friend to choose the forest. Plant him beneath a seedling and watch him grow. But no, that was not his choice. This man wants to be flushed into the Morenci sewer system so he can enjoy those wonderful new pipes.

If I were to follow the lead of the businessman mentioned at the start of this column, I suppose I would have to choose Bean Creek as my sprinkling place. My ashes could take a leisurely ride to Lake Erie, enjoy the thrill-of-a-lifetime trip over Niagara Falls, then sail on past the Gaspé into the Atlantic. But I’d probably get churned up at the first fallen tree and end up as part of a Tiffin River dredging project.

I suppose a newspaper publisher should have his ashes mixed into the ink trough of his final edition so a little bit of him would appear in every obituary.