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This post is not about current work…

18 Jun

I’m getting my mind off of work this weekend so this post is about personal and previous work. This is both serious and humorous.

With my stepfather’s passing last month, the subject of burial plans all the sudden became a hot topic within my family.

My picture is now a little more complicated. But first here’s the backstory:

I was born in Ohio. I went to Ohio University for undergrad and grad school. I lived 9 years in a little river town called Marietta. I am a confirmed Catholic. I was married at St. Mary’s Church in Marietta (I’ve been divorced for over 16 years) My daughter was baptized there. She went through first communion at the church. People in town may remember that when I bought my victorian, I changed it from white to yellow, pink and green. It was very soft and feminine. My victorian was 175 years old when I bought it.

The church is particularly special to me because when I was 27, I had a surgery that almost killed me. I did pass briefly to the other side and back and from that point on, I just had such a great sense of peace every week when I went to mass. There was just something that connected me to that church. I was a Eucharistic Minister for the church – that’s the highest position a woman can hold in the Catholic Church. It means we can give communion and I would do that on weekends. Now, don’t get me wrong – I do not believe in everything the Catholic church represents.

During all my years there, I helped to raise several million dollars to renovate the church. I was a single mother working as a college professor and spending all of my weekends doing fundraising for the school and church. I sent my daughter to Catholic school. With everything, I paid $7000 a year for her school. We worked really, really hard to fund a school and the church. This is what it looked like before. It was almost all white, with small accents in red and gold.

With all the money we raised, we brought color into the church and I feel like, really brought the church to life. The Vatican saw fit to reclassify the church and it is now a Basilica. It is now called Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption. This is the history of the church and the history on the church’s web site. The church is on Fourth Street. I owned a victorian on Third Street. I literally walked around the corner to church.

These are some of the professional photos that I did of the church.

I was there when the alter was brought in – I apologize that these are cell phone pictures of my prints that I found recently in storage. But you can see them brining in the alter. Somewhere I have the originals on a chip. At the time we were doing the restoration, the recession had hit and Hard Rock Park was over and I was back working as a professor because in a recession, people flock to schools and attendance swells.

Here’s additional history from the church’s web site, “The most dramatic episode in the parish’s history occurred on June 13, 2013 when Pope Francis approved a decree establishing St. Mary’s as the 76th basilica in the United States, recognizing its historic significance and artistic splendor. As a basilica, St. Mary’s shares a special relationship with the See of Rome and the Holy Father. Entitled to make use of the Papal symbols, including the Papal Keys, the Umbrellino and Tintinnabulum, a basilica is established as a special place of prayer and pilgrimage.” The actual renovations happened in 2008 and that’s when I took those photos.

So why am I brining all this up (besides finding the photos in storage)?

I am the odd one out in my family. I’m from Ohio and have blonde hair and green eyes. My mother, dad, and brother all had brown hair and brown eyes. They are all from West Virginia and they all graduated from WVU. If you’ve seen the movie Hidden Figures, my dad graduated from the same engineering program at WVU. So you see why I am the different one? I have nothing against West Virginia. As a matter of fact, I used to be a department head for 2 of WVU’s 4 campuses. I have just always identified myself with Ohio because that’s where I am from.

So when my stepfather passed away, my mother tells me that they have a burial plot for me in Beverly Hills Memorial Gardens in WV. Al is now buried there because it all started when my grandfather Lucas purchased a series of burial plots. He gave two of them to my mother and Al. My mother and Al desired to be cremated so they are sharing one of the plots. It is their wish that I be buried in the other plot.

This was part of Al’s dying wishes and this is what my mother wants so I will not say no to my mother.

My grandfather Lucas was not Catholic. He was religious but you would never know it to hear him talk. He designed mining equipment and was a mechanical genius. I spent hours and hours as a kid helping him tear apart and put all kinds of things back together. But as I’ve told my mother many times, “You know I was in the third grade before I learned that my name was not God Dammit. Because every time he needed help it was ‘God Dammit get in here…’”

So I looked at her and said, “And you know, you can not put God Dammit on my headstone.”

She laughed.

Beverly Hills Memorial Gardens is a pretty little cemetery. The deed that my mother sent to me says that I will be buried in the Sermon of the Mount, lot 174-C space number 4.

And I know no one will ever visit that plot to see me.

Except maybe a few cousins who might gather and say, “Look! God Dammit’s back!”

What can I say? I have to poke some fun at this because I have no idea whether I want to be embalmed or cremated. How do you leave in a will, “If I die and I’m pretty then put me on display. If I die and I’m old and ugly then cremate me.” Either way, no one’s going to come to my grave, because I’m from Ohio. But all of the Flemings (my maiden name) are all from Marion County, WV – even the famous ones. And I am sure they are all buried there as well.

I have no idea what to decide – cremation or casket. I honestly don’t know the right answer. I’m going to have to think about this. A long time ago I paid for a life insurance policy that will take care of my funeral expenses. It’s been paid for a long time ago. It’s enough money to cover either option.

I told her I am really unsure about this urn thing. If I die before my older brother, he might just pee in it. We’ve never got along very well as is the case with most brothers and sisters.

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