This is the summer to end all summers, at least as far as my aged parents have been concerned. I've been away in Portland dealing with family matters and have barely opened my computer. One observation from my odyssey through emergency rooms, hospices and funeral homes, known in ancient times as the "Valley of Death:"

My sisters and I were in a funeral home a few days ago. We each had to sign a statement recognizing that the cremation process was "irreversible." What this says to me, incredibly, is that there are fellow members of society who express shock and outrage (and call their lawyers) when they discover that what emerges from the ovens cannot be put back together. Can you picture the scene, the frantic gestures, the dialogue? This would have given my mother a good laugh.

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