“Please don’t bury me down in the cold, cold ground.” (John Prine)


When you drive as much as I do, the prospect of death on the highway becomes less of a possibility and more of a probability. Last night it was a coyote loping across US 169 highway near Garnett, Kansas that tested my defensive driving skills and left me in prayer. He made it back to his family and I made it back to mine but the experience always leaves me somewhat emotional. After the first million miles behind the wheel and the first thousand near misses, I finally stopped worrying about the end. I’m not afraid to die because what comes next will be even more incredible. It’s very reassuring to believe in everlasting life and it gets me through a lot of moments when staying calm is essential. I can’t say my heart isn’t pounding when I swerve onto the gravel shoulder at 60 mph to avoid the local wildlife but I never panic. What would be the point anyway? Either we believe or we don’t and none of us gets to choose our appointed time to meet God.

I prefer to spend my time on earth experiencing things that make me happy now. To that end, when I’m driving, music is a huge part of my enjoyment. Last night, it was 1 AM before I pulled into the driveway and that last hour was tough. After the coyote encounter, I pulled out my loudest albums to help me stay awake. Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, and the Allman Brothers always work wonders and are a far more effective remedy for drowsiness than caffeine. And then, when all else fails, I play Wagner’s, The Ride of the Valkyries. The significance of this particular song bears explanation for anyone who really wants to get inside my head.

I think I would have made a good Viking. I like beer and blondes and I’m really good with an ax. Of course, I like the Hollywood version as shown in the 50’s classic, The Vikings. Only in Hollywood would two Jews get cast as the lead actors, (Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis) but at least they got the English princess right, when they cast Janet Leigh. This movie has everything I ever wanted in a costume drama; scenery, action, humor, dialogue and great storytelling and the greatest ending of all time. Kirk Douglas gets a Viking funeral in that last scene and that’s exactly how I want to go out too.

Now I realize, there’s no way I’m going to legally be allowed to be cremated while lying on a real Viking longboat with a sword across my chest but I have a doable alternative that I fully expect my friends and family to honor when I’m gone. Just have me cremated in the usual manner and then put my ashes on a scale model of a longboat and set it on fire on Lake Margaret up in Minnesota. The boat burns, the ashes end up in the lake and everybody there gets to hum along with The Ride of the Valkyries. Fireworks, a bonfire and a beer toast would be a nice touch as well. Geez, I almost wish I could be there.

Now you know why I play that song in the car late at night. It serves as a signal to the afterlife that another great spirit is ready whenever he’s needed to make the trip to the mythical Valhalla, or in my case, the Pearly Gates of Heaven. I really don’t think this is too much to ask for somebody who risks his life daily in an effort to help kids find their way home. Ultimately, Heaven is the place we all need to be heading for anyway, I just want my funeral to be a little happier than most.

Hope to see you there.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 Responses to “Please don’t bury me down in the cold, cold ground.” (John Prine)

  1. duaneburman says:

    Your wishes are our commands, Brother G. ….being a fellow Viking (Swedish cross breed between Eric the Red and Hagar the Horrible it seems)….I have a major concern. Do you have a special variety of beer stashed in ample quantities that you want us to readily consume in copious amounts for the occasion?
    May you continue to share those Blessings with many more truly in need & may God provide you with continued Protection—for a long, long time.
    We need your insight, guiding words to at least keep our hands on the tiller—hopefully it is still connected to the rudder!

    • grhgraph says:

      OK, you’re officially in charge of QC for this event. Only an experienced production manager would think to ask, “What kind of beer are we having?” So here’s the list of my favorites to choose from. Michelob Golden Draft, MGD, Leinenkugels, Point, Schell, Boulevard, Dos Equis, Tecate, Genny’s Cream Ale and Coors for the lightweights. I don’t want flowers, just beer and fireworks and lots of both. I’m looking forward to it already.

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