Yesterday’s Albuquerque Journal Upfront column by Joline Gutierrez Krueger featured today’s indigent burial ceremony to be held by Bernalillo County and Riverside Funeral Home.
She profiled Joe Speer, “performance poet, raconteur, world traveler and film producer,” who died of pancreatic cancer on January 25, 2011 at the age of 62. His cremated remains will be among the remains of 88 others to be buried at 11:00 a.m. today in the Evangelico Cemetery near Blake and Coors SW.
Here’s how her column starts:
If there’s one thing that is certain in life, it’s that it ends.
That’s also where certainty ends. Death comes in myriad ways, usually not in the hour or the way of our choosing.
Some of us die alone. Some die poor. Some die with no desire for the grim grandeur of a gilded coffin and calla lilies because we had no desire for grandeur while we lived.
And some end up as ash and bone in a cardboard box as the responsibility of the county.
In Bernalillo County, that’s not such a bad way to go.
On Tuesday, 89 of those whose ashes were never claimed for a requisite two years, or whose loved ones could not afford the cost of death, will be laid to rest en masse at the Evangelico Cemetery at Blake and Coors SW.
The boxes will be placed together into a casket and lowered into the ground with a headstone marking this last resting place. Music, eulogies from different denominations, final words from loved ones and flowers will be a part of the services, provided through the county’s Unclaimed/Indigent Cremation Program.
This is the second annual mass burial of indigent/unclaimed remains for Bernalillo County residents. Last year, I covered last year’s ceremony and did a YouTube video of the entire service. Read about and watch last year’s service.
The county has since created a searchable database for unclaimed remains. Here’s the link: http://www.bernco.gov/unclaimedpersons
Many thanks to all those who made the effort to provide a dignified burial for the remains of the poor, the homeless, and the unclaimed people who once walked this earth and made their own contributions to our society.
Joline’s column ends with a quote that Joe Speer will now have an audience for eternity. What a way to go!