Posted by: sara | February 12th, 2020
Several weeks ago I was asked to go visit a woman under hospice care who was declining rapidly. She and her husband were trying to sort out funeral arrangements and hospice staff thought providing them with home funeral and/or green burial information would be helpful. Well, no, I was told. "I'm not interested in cremation either. Or anatomical body donation." So where did that leave them? There was no money saved and they were currently depending on some sort of raffle out of state to help with expenses. They had no church family with a fellowship hall where they could hold a small service. They owned no burial plot but she wanted to be buried in Burlington. I knew from several reliable funeral home sources that there were no plots available in the large city cemetery. But, well, I decided to call them anyway. Just in case.
Enter our Hero: Jeff Parsons, Cemetery Superintendent, City of Burlington. When you heard the bell ringing (okay, your CELL ringing!?) you answered the call and informed me that there was not one but TWO plots available! And that the City of Burlington sold these plots for a mere $500 each. Jeff heard me gasp and then said, "That surprised you, right?" I'll say! I told Jeff I would convey this good news to my couple at once! Then he went a step further. "I am going to walk out and mark both these plots with a pink utility flag so they can come out and see which one they prefer." [ARE YOU KIDDING ME??] "Wow, Jeff. Thank you so much!"
Today I checked in with Jeff to see if he had ever heard back from the husband and wife. Oh, yes, he told me. "The husband came out the very next day after we talked. His wife wasn't able to make the trip, but he told her about the two plots and she loved the idea of the one near the walking track across the street."
I hadn't thought much about that cemetery worker's bell we saw in Colma last summer. But today it danced across my mind as I was contemplating how to show some love for this local cemetery worker. There was such a beautiful story about that bell. About how it was hung to signal workers of an approaching funeral. When they heard the bell the cemetery workers would change into their uniforms and help out with the burial services. It takes a village. Ding dong, ding dong.
And speaking of bells lest we forget...
For Whom the Bell Tolls
by John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.