On Death and Dying – Random Passages and Thoughts
“The undertaker, Winthrop Ogletree, was waiting in the foyer of the large, rambling Victorian house at the end of the Street of Tides where he practiced his trade. . . . “I’ll get right to the point, Winthrop,” my grandmother said officiously. “I’ll be dying sometime after my sixtieth birthday and I don’t want to be a burden on my family. I’m going to pick out the cheapest coffin you carry in this boneyard and I don’t want no high-pressure salesmanship trying to get me to buy some million-dollar box.”
Mr. Ogletree looked both hurt and offended but answered in a mollifying voice. “Oh, Tolitha, Tolitha, Tolitha. I’m here only here to serve your best interests. It would never occur to me to try to talk anyone into anything. I am here only to answer your questions and to be of service. But Tolitha, I wasn’t aware that you were ill. You look like you could live to be a thousand.”
“I can’t think of a more horrible fate,” she answered . . .
* * * *
“I don’t want no smile on my face when I kick, Winthrop,” Tolitha ordered. “You better write that down. I don’t want to be grinning like a chessy cat while folks go peeking over the side. And I want you to use my own personal make-up. Not that cheap crap you use.”
Excerpted from “The Prince of Tides,” By Pat Conroy