DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to encourage "Wants to Do Right by Mama" (Jan. 25) to honor her mother's final wishes regarding her burial attire and the position of her body. Several years ago, I sat down with my parents and we talked about their wishes for when they die. We discussed everything from the distribution of their assets to the type of funerals they want. I learned that my father would like a large tombstone, which is something I never knew, so I asked him to draw up exactly what he had in mind.
Mom and Dad have already written their obituaries for the newspaper. Mom listed all the songs to be played at her service and the flowers she wants. We visited funeral homes, and discussed coffins and services, etc. Since then, they have changed their minds several times and have now decided they prefer cremation. Everything is written down and I sent copies to my brother, who lives out of town. Both of us want to respect our parents' wishes.
It wasn't as difficult as we thought it would be, and when the time comes and everyone is emotionally spent, the arrangements will already be in place.
— JIM IN CHESTERFIELD, MO.
DEAR JIM: I congratulate you for having that important discussion with your parents. A number of readers commented on that letter. Their remarks made me smile, so I'll share. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My father wanted to be buried without any clothes on and without his dentures. His reasoning was he came into the world naked and toothless, and he wanted to go out the same way. To my brother's dismay, Daddy got his wish. He was, however, covered discreetly by a lovely blue sheet.
— MISSING DADDY
DEAR ABBY: My children know for a fact that if I'm ever unable to care for myself, they'll have to pluck out my chin hairs. Whether I'm in a nursing home or in a coffin, if there are any coarse hairs sprouting from my chin, I'll come back and haunt them.
— MARTHA IN GREEN BAY
DEAR ABBY: When we buried my mother, Dad realized his burial plot next to hers would be so close to the road that visitors might drive over it or park on his grave. So he requested that when he was interred, a nail be placed in his fist so he could reach up and pop their tires. When he passed away last August, we gave him the largest nail we could find.
— DADDY'S DAUGHTER
DEAR ABBY: Our mother saved her favorite square dancing outfit for when the angels called her, and we honored her wishes when she passed away a few months ago at the age of 89. She was completely decked out in her dress, right down to the "full" slip, shoes and six-shooter earrings. We miss her terribly, but can't help smiling when we think of her in her dress.
— DID RIGHT BY MAMA, OTHELLO, WASH.
DEAR ABBY: My great-grandma also requested that she be buried in her pajamas, but said she also wanted a fork placed in her hands. We could understand the pajamas — given the "long sleep" — but the fork had us stumped. She explained that when dishes were cleared after family dinners when she was growing up and dessert was on its way, her father would say, "Hold onto your fork, the best is yet to come!"
We did as my great-grandmother asked, and it helped those of us who were grieving to remember that she's now enjoying her "just desserts."
— HOLDING TIGHT TO MY FORK, SIOUX FALLS, S.D.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.