Scattering Old Traditions

They came to New Hampshire from as far away as California to wish their friend good-bye. The group had spent many years skiing together, so it made sense that 40 of George’s friends would gather at Cannon Mountain on a Saturday in March to scatter his cremains among the trails and glades of a place that brought him such joy for his 57 years.

The air is rare and the view stunning at 4,000 feet above the floor of Franconia Notch. Just a stone’s throw away is also the final resting place of what remains of the Old Man of the Mountain, whose unexpected demise took us all by surprise four Mays ago.

Turns out George and the Old Man have more than an eternal resting place in common. It seems no one is interested in traditional burials any more. Caskets shaped like lobsters and race cars are fast becoming a way to put the “fun” back in funeral.

Then there are the creatively thoughtful people like George’s friends, who realize that, like eternity, the sky’s the limit when it comes to imaginative ways of carrying out the last wishes of loved ones. Did dearly departed Aunt Louise love jewelry? A company called LifeGem will compress 8 ounces of her cremains for several months, transforming Auntie into an actual yellow or blue diamond. The cost? Anywhere from $3,500 to $25,000.

A Manchester funeral director acquaintance of mine says people are putting a lot of thought into cremation. But, Hampton Beach?

“Yes. It’s not unusual for people to take a loved one’s cremains and mix it into the spot on Hampton Beach that was a favorite of the deceased,” I’m told. He’s even heard, but can’t confirm, that a deceased member of Red Sox nation is enjoying every Fenway game for free while those of us among the living pay dearly for the privilege of warm beer and cold hot dogs. Gotta love a guy whose eternal view is that of the green monster and Citgo sign. And Manny’s nose hairs.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, author of “Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death,” says English soccer fans have their cremains scattered in their favorite stadiums, too. She also relays the story of an artist who brushed a masterpiece mix of paint and cremains to canvas. And the golfers who scattered their buddy’s cremains on the 18th hole of his favorite golf course, but were asked to “do it at night.”

While some of us may someday serve as nutrition for a tree or find ourselves forever at sea, thanks to his friends, George will enjoy a perpetually peaceful view of New Hampshire from Cannon Mountain, where he’ll never have to buy another lift ticket.

And his new friend, the Old Man, might actually break into a craggy grin at the thought that there may be no better place to spend the hereafter than Franconia Notch. Unless, of course, you’re a Red Sox fan. NH

Mike Morin is best known as the chipper and charming radio personality of WZID’s New Hampshire in the Morning Show, but he also has a dark side as a late-night writer of comic essays such as this.