Cremate

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cremate: (v) to reduce a dead body to ashes by fire

I grew up with a “Kellogg’s” approach to death and burial.

This was more or less taking your loved one, sticking him or her in a box, sealing the lid and tucking the flake away.

All the funerals I went to had gorgeous cereal boxes. They all ended up at a gravesite where the container was lowered into the ground, covered over and marked with a stone that insisted in granite that this individual once lived.

So when my thirteen-year-old son passed away from complications due to a hit-and-run accident, I was far from any home we had, traveling on the road. I immediately discovered that those boxes ain’t cheap.

Not only are they expensive, but they demand that you buy a plot of land—which is also extremely costly—and place your loved one in an area where you must to drive to visit.

Well, I realized I was not going to live in the community where my boy died, so I was offered the option of cremation. It was considerably less money. Also, at the end of the process, they handed over a box containing a sealed, plastic bag of dusty and ashy remains.

It was rather shocking. Opening the lid, I took a peek at the contents. It reminded me of when I was a kid and was given the job in late October of cleaning the fireplace out so we would be able to make a nice, cozy flame on cold, winter nights.

… Ashen, clingy powder that wanted to stick to your skin—or if you got it too close to your face and inhaled, could make you cough.

This was not my son. This didn’t represent his brief journey.

I thought to myself, maybe it’s a good thing. Instead of painting up something that’s dead and gone, burn it up, confirming that it will no longer be here.

I picked up the carton, put it in the back of our van, and we traveled with it for years—stuck in the corner near the wheel well.

At times I considered scattering the ashes, but there was no particular place that had more significance than another. Absent finding a resting ground for his soot, I felt more inclined to just keep him nearby.

Matter of fact, he’s still with us.

My younger son has taken him and lifted him up in honor … in a corner of the attic.


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Cough

Cough: (v) to expel air from the lungs suddenly with a harsh noise

“Wow. That’s a nasty cough.”

People have said that to me over the years and I to them.

It’s really sad that “cough” has such a bad reputation. Nobody ever praises it for any of its rehabilitating qualities. Once we hear a cough, it remains nasty in ourfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
minds until it’s gone.

Of course, the reason it arrives is to help us.

Without the cough, our bronchial tubes and lungs would fill up with mucous and suffocate us. Would we like that better? Probably not.

Seems like we’re really obsessed with being critical of the cough. It comes along to remind us—to tickle our awareness—that things inside us need to be expelled. Otherwise we will never get well.

Once a cough arrives, it really is not trying to make us sicker, but would like us to get better as soon as possible, offering its hack to help out with the whoop.

But still…

We hold the cough in low regard.

Maybe it’s because deep in our hearts, we think anything that happens to us which isn’t whipped cream and candy to possess some level of injustice.

When people get sick and die, we complain—and often turn bitterly to the heavens and say, “Why did God do that?”

No one ever thinks to pose the question to the King of the Universe, “Why didn’t you send a better cough?”


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Coated

Coated: (n) a layer of covering

I, for one, appreciate and enjoy the candy coating on my aspirin.

I know it’s just a brief whiz-by of sweetness, but it keeps me from tasting any of that aspirin flavor that sticks in the back of your throat and makes you cough.

It’s just damned considerate.

This crossed my mind about twenty years ago, but I didn’t really do anything about it until last year. (Sometimes it takes nineteen years to work up the gumption to follow through on one of your own pieces of brilliance.)

But twenty years ago, I thought to myself, the problem with human relationships is that they aren’t candy-coated.

We walk around with some adult, grown-up notion that things should be nasty, and the more bitter they are the better it is–because we’ll end up with such a great, complaining story.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized that this applied to me. I was waiting for somebody else to put it into practice. But then I sat down one afternoon and realized that I am sometimes hard to swallow:

I can be bitter

I can be nasty

I can be sour.

And the truth of the matter is, my responsibilities require that I use candor and truthfulness to get the job done. After all, can there be anything worse than a writer who’s a liar–which may force him to write more lies later?

Yet there are human ingredients of sweetness that can be added to truth, so that we can feel love as we embrace reality.

May we never lose kindness.

May we never forget the power of being gentle.

May we always take into consideration a sense of humor.

And certainly, may our daily lives be blessed by the power of apology and the simplicity of a thank you.

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Clarify

Clarify: (v) to make things less confused

In our attempts to discover right and wrong, good timing and bad timing, and safe or unsound, we have become excellent liars.

Not willing to take a chance on sharing what we feel–out of a deep fear that we might be incorrect–we have developed a series of “wedge
statements” which seem to fit into any given clumsy moment, offering absolutely no insight or means of clarifying.

Things like:

“We have that under advisement”

“That’s something we were just talking about the other day”

“We have a committee checking into that”

“We are collecting data”

“Of course we want to do what’s right for the American people”

“This is no time to make rash decisions”

All of these squeaky-clean, insipid excuses may avoid committment, but have more and more of our citizens ending up committed (mainly to mental hospitals).

Somewhere along the line, you have to clarify your position, even if you happen to be completely out-of-whack.

After all, holding a cough in does not get rid of the foul mucus. Likewise, holding in an opinion does not dispel ignorance. It just allows it to grow like mushrooms in a dark cave.

“Let me clarify my position” is not an attempt to prove your point. It lets those around you have an awareness and sensitivity of the emotional air you are presently breathing–so they will know how to offer you oxygen.

 

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