Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bang on Coffins

By Julie Rahm

A thousand years ago, when my husband was a teenager, he worked in a cemetery. He mainly cut grass. But, as a part-time job, he dug foundations for the tombstones. Tombstones are quite heavy and will settle into the ground if they are not supported underneath by a cement foundation. It was John’s job to dig an appropriate size hole, mix and fill it with concrete. His boss was Mr. Edgar Case. Edgar was at least eighty years old and his family had owned the local tombstone business for three generations. Edgar knew how everyone was buried in the cemetery. You see, the cemetery was quite old. Revolutionary War soldiers are buried there. Everyone is not “laid out” in nice neat rows. A lot of the customers are buried haphazardly. Edgar remembered who was where and how.

In addition to an excellent memory, Edgar was retentive. The holes for the foundations were roped off and dug deep. Gravel, sand, cement, water buckets and the tarp for the dirt were laid out exactly the same way for every hole. The process was consistent and exact. John did most of the digging. But, Edgar would do his share. Edgar worked slow but steady; all day long. Most often the duo would dig all the way down to the ground box. (Coffins are placed in a cement ground box.) When the bottom of the hole would reach the ground box, Edgar would inevitably take the shovel and bang on the box to rattle the coffin. John was mortified at Edgar’s antics. Edgar would yell the name of the deceased along with a slanderous remark or two while laughing big and loud. As you can imagine, some of Edgar’s remarks were quite colorful. Edgar often performed a celebratory dance on top of the ground box and coffin. You see, Edgar always knew the deceased. It was a small town.

At first, I thought the story was morbid and somewhat disrespectful. But after some thought, I have changed my view of Edgar’s celebration. In a weird way, it was like two long-lost friends meeting again. Except in this case, one was dead and one was not. Edgar continued to out live his friends. He watched them get buried one by one. How did Edgar live long enough to bang on all of his friends coffins? The answer is evident. Edgar’s body, mind and spirit triad had strength and balance. For his body, Edgar ate well, worked hard and got plenty of rest. For his mind, Edgar always had something meaningful he needed to accomplish everyday. And lastly, Edgar fed his spirit by banging on his friends coffins, expressing joy and rejoicing in the memories of friends departed.

Like Edgar, you too can live long enough to bang on your friends coffins! Tune-up your body, mind, spirit triad by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

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