Friday Declarations: The Pact

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Part One: by Cecelia

Most friends or neighbors will deliver a casserole or a pound cake to a family reeling from a death. My neighbor, Becky, and I have an agreement to do much more. When I die, she will be sweeping the contents of my underwear drawer into a trash bag.  I have only two final requests: clean out my underwear drawer and absolutely no open casket.

It took a few years of friendship with Becky before I had the courage to ask this favor of her. We sat at our annual birthday lunch at our favorite restaurant, and I leaned across the table to make my request. “If I die, use your key to get into the house and clean out my lingerie drawer immediately.”

I know Becky—she will lean towards making some chicken and dumplings or a skillet apple pie to minister to my husband in his grief. That’s the sign of a good neighbor. A truly great neighbor, however, will dispose of your underwear before firing up the oven.

While this might seem like a bizarre topic, she knows what I mean. We’ve gone to far too many estate sales where old brassieres and housecoats were sold alongside Minton and Fostoria. Who sells their dearly departed relative’s undergarments? And, worse yet, who buys their bras at an estate sale?

I rest assured that with Becky as my neighbor, my dainties will be burned and the ashes buried. I’ve pledged to do the same for her.

Part Two: by Becky

Every Friday morning I wake up early, fill the travel mug with coffee and drive to the homes of the recently departed. Once there, I stand in a line outside surrounded by strangers. And unless I am joined by a decorator friend or two, no one speaks.

I love searching through cabinets for the odd pieces of antique china that I collect or the vintage purses I buy for Pookie, but some sales feature parts of a life that should be disposed of before a line of strangers with cash come marching through.

My mother’s best friend from childhood had a wonderful solution to this travesty of allowing strangers, or anyone for that matter, to see her unmentionables. She swore her daughters to a solemn pact that immediately after she died they would dispose of her undergarments. Not only thrown away, but fully incinerated. It’s the only proper way to handle such delicate personal property, and a Southern solemn oath that Cecelia and I take very seriously.

If you ever see smoke coming from our neighborhood in the middle of a hot Florida day, don’t ask questions, just smile and maybe get a casserole ready.

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