Friday, February 8, 2013

Somebody Hide Me!

ANOTHER LETTER FROM THE NEPTUNE SOCIETY.   I'm not planning an early departure, but they sure seem determined to get my business.

The envelope is a dead giveaway. “Free Pre-Paid Cremation! DETAILS INSIDE.”

Since this a preview to my ending, I read the P.S. first. “Sometimes deaths happen before you have a chance to put plans in place. Neptune stands ready to assist at a moments notice should you need immediate help.” (I presume this means Neptune will provide urgent medical care before or after cremation, with the goal of satisfactorily treating the presenting conditions, or arranging for my timely removal to the next point of definitive care. But the mailer doesn’t say that.)

It’s interesting that the Neptune Society encloses at quote, not the cost of my Free Pre-Paid Cremation, rather the words of a prominent person: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.” According to the Internet, the source is unknown. But the Neptune Society attributes it to Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962).

Having received several similar solicitations from the Neptune Society, and not knowing how I got on its mailing list, curiosity led me to the Internet where I looked to see if Eleanor Roosevelt endorsed cremation. She apparently didn’t. But fortunately I stumbled on a few paragraphs written by a Boulder, CO writer and attorney named Christopher R. Brauchli. BINGO! He received the same mailer from Neptune. And he covered the subject magnificently with a little legaleze. I figured I was getting a bonafide unsolicited Free opinion from a well-respected lawyer. And when I read the Robert William Service poem at the top, I was hooked. Unbelieveable! Christopher Brauchli took the words right out of my computer. And I’m taking them back, with apologies if necessary.

Service wrote:

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights
But the queerest they ever did see,
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

And Brauchli wrote:

“Although an offer of anything for free is tantalizing, I was slightly apprehensive since I was sure the contents would disclose, as do so many seemingly irresistible offers, that there was a time limit associated with the offer and that in order to take advantage of it I would have to agree to be cremated by a date certain selected by the Neptune Society, probably in a month in which cremations are typically low. It was, therefore, with some relief that upon opening the envelope I learned that although the contents breached the envelope’s promise of a free cremation, there was no time limit for taking advantage of the offer. It would be valid even if I chose to live another 40 or 50 years. The breach of promise, as it were, was that I had not won a free cremation as promised by the envelope but had only been given a chance to participate in a drawing where, if successful, I would be entitled to be cremated for free no matter how long after the drawing I decided to postpone the happy event.

The enclosed letter explained that the Neptune Society has the distinction of being “America’s Cremation Specialists” and informs that Neptune’s motto is “Simple, Economical and Dignified.” The letter sets forth a number of reasons why cremation (after death) makes sense including the fact that by paying for the cremation now you “lock in today’s price” no matter when you decide to die. Somewhat mysteriously, the letter concludes with a footnote apologizing “if this letter has reached you at a time of serious illness or death in your family.” That seems odd since that is exactly the time when such a letter would be most relevant and, depending on the time of the next drawing, welcomed by its recipient.

Enclosed with the letter was the ticket to participate in the drawing. It was in the form of a card, the completion and return of which entitles me to be entered in the free cremation lottery. On one side of the card is a tranquil picture of a misty forest with shades of green faintly visible through the mist. On the back of the card is a quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt that has no particular relevance to cremation. It says: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.” The quotation would be more meaningful if it meant that each recipient of the card got the present of a free cremation instead of the opportunity to participate in a drawing.

I have not returned the card. I am waiting to see if those selling cryogenic preservation with the tantalizing prospect of possible future resurrection will be having a drawing in which I can participate. Then I can decide whether to go for the hot or the cold. I’ll not enter both.

And I wrote:

I have not returned the card either, even though there is a postage paid envelope for my reply, but taking it to the Cremation Information Center in Kutztown, PA.

Mr. Brauchli has a good point about cryogenic preservation. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation, founded right here in my hometown in 1972, is the world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology. Cryonics, in case you don’t know, may be an alternative to cremation, particularly if you want to live longer. It’s the science of using ultra-cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so. Alcor is a non-profit organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona, founded in 1972.   Alcor hasn't made any claims about returning to life as a 20 year old - when they do, I might get more interested.

More on the chilly Ted Williams tomorrow.

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