"The Way We Were"

thelasthole largeSometimes you just have to let art wash over you. I don't know what to add to this Associated Press story (hat tip to Rod FOTB Dreher), except to say that we Baby Boomers are not going to go into middle age and beyond quietly. Is this a Godbeat story? Trends in Baby Boomer entertainment rituals? The liturgy of the media?

So here we go. This is the whole report.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan in life, and even death could not keep him from his favorite spot: in a recliner, in front of a TV showing his beloved team in action. Smith, 55, of Pittsburgh, died of prostate cancer Thursday. Because his death wasn't unexpected, his family was able to plan for an unusual viewing Tuesday night.

The Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home erected a small stage in a viewing room, and arranged furniture on it much as it was in Smith's home on game day Sundays. Smith's body was on the recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand. He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. A pack of cigarettes and a beer were at his side, while a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights.

"I couldn't stop crying after looking at the Steeler blanket in his lap," said his sister, MaryAnn Nails, 58. "He loved football and nobody did (anything) until the game went off. It was just like he was at home."

Longtime friend Mary Jones called the viewing "a celebration."

"I saw it and I couldn't even cry," she said. "People will see him the way he was."

Smith's burial plans were more traditional -- he'll be laid to rest in a casket.

Ah, a casket you say? But what kind of casket?

There might be a story there as well, as I discovered a few years ago at one of the stranger events I have ever tried to sneak into religion pages from coast to coast. Enjoy!

Anyone strolling through last year's National Funeral Directors Association convention could catch glimpses of Baby Boomer heaven.

The Baltimore exhibits included "fairway to heaven" caskets for those especially devout golfers and NASCAR models for true fans that have seen their last race, at least in this life. The goal, said a convention spokesman, is to offer dying consumers the same kinds of choices that they demanded in life.

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