Recently I went to buy a tombstone for my brother’s grave; the salesman, whom I’ve known for some time, greeted me warmly and after a while announced his upcoming retirement. Then, says he, “Father, do you want a job as a monument salesman?” Doesn’t everyone have the occasional fantasy of doing something else for a living? Or even a different vocation? The mind went into rapid fire revelry.
“What’s it gonna take for me to put you under this stone today? That $1,200 check Uncle Sam sent you, plus fourteen easy payments, will let you carry this baby out today! Look at this gorgeous virgin granite; it comes with a certificate that sometime in the past a virgin was sacrificed near this piece of rock. Look at the sheen of the front; doesn’t it just scream out, ‘Man, that’s living!'”
“You want that stone for your grandmother? I see she didn’t mean much to you; it’s such a small monument for so great a lady. Oh, she was much loved by the family; then let me show you our ‘Much Loved’ model. It comes with etched red roses and three angels singing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’ Could I interest you in the ‘Really Loved’ package? It contains all of the above plus a memorial thorn bush will be planted in her honor and lit every All Soul’s Day with memory LED candles.”
“A pre-need stone? Certainly sir, we have a many models that can be put on lay away until you’re laid away; sorry sir, a little industry humor there. What do you do for a living sir? Sanitation technician? Well, let me show our catalogue of our most popular pots for professionals to piddle around. This American Comfort memorial is a classic for men like you; clouds throughout the background, cute little bears running around with TP rolls, and if you look closely, just here, a shadowy image of Mr. Whipple praying the Lord’s Prayer.”
“Yes, Ma’am? A fitting monument for your recently deceased husband? Certainly ma’am we can fit any price range; let me start you off by viewing our Cherubim headstone. All granite with a marble veneer with a ten year warranty. Something less expensive? Perhaps our Archangel model; it comes in nine different colors standing for the nine ranks of angels. Excuse me? Yes, we do have some stones that are cheaper. The Optional Memorial stone is made of concrete quarried from the banks of the Middle Loup River. I must apologize ma’am, the only things cheaper than that is our Purgatory memorial that’s carved from a five lb. block of soap. Please wait right here and we’ll get that ready for you.”
And then the fantasy ends; I’m still a priest and will ever be. It’s good to dream but God calls us to be His followers, not our own disciples. I’m still learning how to be a halfway decent priest even after 38 years, and that’s all that’s needed. Still, I wonder what the resale value is on a repossessed tombstone made of soap?