We drove to Connecticut for the weekend; I needed to clear up some problems with my cemetery plot there. I am in the surprising position of having two plots in that cemetery and telephone communication has been a frustrating exercise.
We were raised in Westport; my parents are buried in the town cemetery, and Larry grew up on the street adjoining it and used it as a playground. It seemed the appropriate place for us to have our own COMDEN plot.
PLAN A – in 1986, with an unexpected bonus weighing down my pocket, I decided to buy a Willowbrook plot. I was spending a lot of time with my mother-in-law in CT that summer, and one day we went over to select a plot. One had just opened up that was perfect! In the older section, within sight of their old house, and a short walk from my parent’s grave. And the price happened to be just a little more than my bonus. I bought it. I filed the papers away, sure that I was set when the time came to need it.
When my cancer was diagnosed, I brought out that file and began to outline plans to have my ashes buried there. Alas! A big monkey wrench was thrown into my plans – by Larry Comden who pointed out that it was an awfully expensive practical joke (I planned to have our epitaph read: And we couldn’t afford to live here. True. Then he said, ‘your plot is for full burial and we plan to be cremated. True. Then he said, “I don’t want to be buried in Westport”. In 22 years, I had never asked.
And, although he was the objector, it was up to me to sell the plot. I learned that the cemetery would not buy back the plot. I didn’t trust the on-line broker who promised to sell it – for a hefty fee. What to do?
PLAN B - By summer I had come up with Plan B: I would donate it to the local UU Church who would know how to advertise its availability and could keep the $3000. Donation to a worthy organization, problem solved!
Not quite. I was presented with a phone tree and picked the business manager as the appropriate person to approach with this donation. I left a message. There was no call back.
Then I sent a long email to the church, explaining who I was, what the plot was and why I wanted to donate it to them. Still no response.
Finally, thinking that they were perhaps on vacation, I asked Rod to contact their pastor, which he did and received an enthusiastic reply and a promise that the business manager would get in touch with me. But they did not respond, not even a “thanks but no thanks”.
PLAN C - During all this time I gave a lot of thought as to why I wanted to be buried in Westport, why Pittsburgh, my home for over half my life, was not to benefit from my ashes. Willowbrook is a beautiful, well kept cemetery, and I know most of the sections in it very well. It holds the bones of my parents and their friends, and of my friends parents, and of the business men in town, and my doctor and dentist. Some of my teachers. The librarian, some of the town cops. It is a comfortable place. I visit it each time I go to Westport. This was where I want to go. I also want a Comden presence in the cemetery; Larry’s parents were important in the town the many years they lived there (they are buried in Long Island). PLAN A would have covered both points. But why waste the space of a double plot for a single cremation?
I called the cemetery back and offered an even-steven trade – my double plot for a single cremation plot. The manager countered - I could have my urn buried on my parent’s plot, and add a footstone with my name on it, and they would try to sell my double wide, double deep, excellently located piece of ground.
So that is where it stands. And I like the thought of returning to my family fold. I am trying to talk my sister into joining me. And, if it hasn’t sold by the time I die, it will be back to PLAN A which I will also have set in place.
It was a trip worth doing, and we had several visits with friends still there as a bonus.