Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

When I'm Dead and Cold, Just Chill

This past weekend I attended the funeral of an old friend and colleague.

David Ray Pierce was a gifted Creative Director/graphic designer for over thirty years. I never knew him to lose his temper, raise his voice, or lose his composure. No matter how complex the challenge, how tight the deadline or bizarre the behavior of the client, once we reviewed the strategic platform he would summarize the assignment and address me using his pet expression saying, "We'll get back to you, boss man."

Of the hundreds of talented creative directors, graphic designers and art directors with whom I've worked, I never enjoyed working with anyone more than "Piercey," as we called him.

When my daughter checked in from college last night and asked how the services went, I couldn't help but remind her of my own final wishes. If I have my way there will be no memorial service, Mass, eulogy, "celebration of life," obituary, funeral or burial. In other words, when it's my time, I want the quickest, least expensive and tidiest disposition possible. I've suggested to my family there is a place in the next town over that does cremations. No need for an urn. Just have them put me in the oversized Baggie Zip-lock pouch they supply.

As far as I am concerned, my wife and kids can dump my ashes on the front lawn. Or, if they feel the need for something more symbolic, the next time they are in my hometown of Rochester, NY they can toss my remains off the Memorial Bridge which spans the Genesee River.

At the immortal age of sixteen I had summer employment along the steep banks of the Genesee at a Catholic cemetery. Within minutes of a graveside funeral service, a crew of laborers to which I belonged would descend on the grave and remove all the flowers so the guys responsible for burying the body could get to work. We’d pitchfork the arrangements into the back of a dump truck and haul the load to the edge of the cemetery property where a bulldozer would push it down a mountainous embankment to form a makeshift landfill. Additionally, Genesee Beer, now known simply as Jenny, was made within eyesight of the bridge. It was long thought the beer company used water from the river to make its beer. It pleases me to think my ashes might both rest on the landfill I helped to create in my youth, and also find their way into one of America’s iconic brews. Now that is double symbolism!

Death has become big business and it disturbs me that even in death, the “man” wants to get into my pockets. From the florist, which the story above illustrates is a colossal waste of money, to the plot, urn, casket, mortician, caterer, etc.; it’s all about finding ways to rake in the cash.

My immediate family is encouraged to do whatever the minimum is that they need to find some closure or acceptance for themselves. Beyond that, I say DO NOTHING! I consider the act of paying respects to someone with whom you have not kept in recent contact, or seen within the last six months to be insincere at least, and hypocritical at best. The people that matter to me I talk to, see, or email regularly. As close as we might have once considered ourselves, I do not consider you a current friend unless we've kept in touch as described. In the event you are ever invited to a memorial service of any kind for me, you are now officially off the hook - please do not attend. If you ever have a need to mourn my passing or reflect on our relationship after I’ve gone, feel free to stop by the Memorial Bridge and have an icy cold Jenny.