I don't expect to be reincarnated,
so I'll blog about dying and death (with appropriate irreverence) while I'm still alive.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If I can't get gyoza and miso in heaven, I don't want to go

Sunday I was at a brunch gathering of about 25 people I had never met before--but am related to.

We are all decedents or spouses of decedents of Zalmon ("Solomon") Cohen. Zalmon traveled with his family from Poland to New York, sailing on the S.S. Sheffield on July 15, 1887.

Zalmon died in 1908, and in 1919 members of his family formed the Zalmon Cohen Foundation in New York City to provide proper burials for themselves and their descendants. This was quite common in the early 1900s. Many "burial societies" were formed by fraternal organizations, unions, religious institutions, alumni groups, and refugees from the same ghettos in the old country. They re-created miniature versions of the old 'hood within cemeteries in the New World.

My father's mother's father, Joseph Goldstein, was a son-in-law of Zalmon Cohen, and it is through him that my wife and I have inherited final resting places. We'll end up in an old cemetery in Flushing, in the borough of Queens, in New York City, which I would not have chosen for myself. But the price is right. I pay $10 per year in dues, which also covers meals at the meetings--Jewish food, not Japanese like in the photo above.

Back in the 1980s I picked out a pretty spot in a Westchester County cemetery, on a hill with a nice view of the Saw Mill River. But since there is not likely to be a periscope that will penetrate six feet of dirt, and pass through the live/dead barrier, I've reluctantly agreed to be planted in Flushing. (Which, of course, is better than being flushed in Flushing.)

Ironically, my wife Marilyn and I lived in Flushing for two years in the mid-1970s, so our interments can be viewed as a homecoming of sorts. Also ironically, some folks on Marilyn's side of the family now live or have lived in Flushing, and some are buried in the same cemetery where we are headed.

Our ghosts will have a hell of a reunion party. Flushing has great Asian food.

Oh shit! I forgot. If I'm dead I won't be able to enjoy the gyoza, tempura, teriyaki, sushi, spring rolls, spare ribs, crispy fish in garlic sauce, Chinese eggplant, miso and wonton soup.

DAMN! No gyoza? Death sucks. Maybe it would be better to be buried in Utah or England where my ghost would not be jealous of the folks eating crappy food up above.

There's a popular song lyric that says, "In Heaven there is no beer. That's why we drink it here."

And the response to "You can't take it with you" is "If I can't take it with me, I ain't going."

Yesterday I got results of a chest X-ray and stress test. My doc said the results are fine. After I upload this blog I have to start chugging a ghastly oral laxative (even worse than Rolling Rock Beer) to empty me out in preparation for a prostate biopsy. In a few weeks, I'll have lithotripsy treatment for kidney stones. I'm also supposed to get a second lens implant.

It's all downhill after age 18. If my prostate is not as good as my heart, I may have to get some gyoza--FAST. Make 'em crisp, and hurry up, please.

(Gyoza photo from

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