Good To Know

Stan: We buried you. There was a coffin, a gravestone…the whole thing.
Chuck Noland: I had a coffin?
[Stan nods]
Chuck Noland: Well, what was in it?

Castaway (2000)


When you’re dealing with closing out the various business bits of someone who’s died, you start to run across a few weird details.

For example: my grandmother had a habit of paying “bills” that didn’t need to be paid, so my brother and I were constantly depositing checks that were based on refunds of checks she’d sent out to settle debts that didn’t exist. So for instance, she’d go to the doctor and pay the co-pay, then an “Explanation of Benefits” statement would come from Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, spelling out the total costs and how much was paid by Medicaid, how much by Empire and how much was the patient’s responsibility. She’d see that bottom line and send a check to Empire, which would promptly issue a refund. So one of the projects we’ve been involved with this past month was figuring out just how much money my grandmother genuinely owed to people. It makes for a lot of interesting phone calls, let me tell you.

Yesterday I got a piece of mail from the funeral home that took care of my grandmother. I thought it was the copies of her death certificate, since they haven’t arrived yet and the envelope was a little bit on the thick side, but it turned out not to be the case. Inside was another envelope, marked LIMITED WARRANTY CERTIFICATE.

Now, because the funeral home is on the same property as the cemetery, it crossed my mind that perhaps this is the warranty for the little brass plate that goes on the grave marker. Most of the marker was already in place, since my grandparents had adjoining plots going on, but there was still a space that needed to be bolted on for my grandmother’s year of death. On the other hand, I’d received no such warranty for the plate on my mother’s grave, which is in the same cemetery. Hey, here’s an idea! Why not open the folder and see what it’s about?

In Your Choice of Attractive ColorsTurns out that what I have is the Limited Warranty Certificate for a Batesville NGS Steel Casket. It warranties, among other things, that “this Casket is free from defects in material and workmanship” and that “Batesville will, within ten days of receipt of this notice to it, replace this Casket with one of equal or greater value if, at any time prior to the placement of this Casket in an initial place of interment, it is found to be defective in materials or workmanship…” (emphasis is mine).

So…more than ten days after my grandmother is buried, I get the reassurance that if I discover a problem with the casket—pardon me, Casket—prior to her burial, then I can get a replacement? Thanks, Batesville!

Now, am I covered for spraining my eyeballs because I’ve rolled them so hard?