As bombs dropped over Germany, aerial photographer Arthur Oxenberg would lean out of a B-17 Flying Fortress with his camera to snap a photograph. His photos were a way the U.S. Army Air Forces could tell whether bombs hit their targets.
I called my 94-year-old father in Ohio on July 9. I told him how much I loved him, that he was the most wonderful father ever, that I would miss him, and that it was OK for him to let go.
For a man who runs a mortuary and memorial park that arranges about 1,500 funerals a year, Len Lawrence spends a lot of his time thinking about the living. In particular, he thinks about those who have suddenly lost a loved one and are caught completely unprepared for the many decisions that revolve around the ritual of burial.
It's the ultimate fantasy: You have a seat at your own funeral. Now imagine that while hovering in limbo between your death and burial, you have the power not only to witness the preparations and critique the eulogies, but also to eavesdrop on critical moments in your past for a reality check.
In my family, death and funerals seem to inspire joking. Maybe it's discomfort, but it also seems to be a lack of concern and heaviness about the whole thing. No one in my family does much visiting of graves, and burials are apparently not deemed necessary.