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It has been many years since I experienced the little frisson of pleasure when I opened an envelope addressed to me. It was back before e-mail and Skype and cell phones when people actually wrote letters and postcards to family and friends. When a member of my family or a close friend travels abroad, I may still get a postcard, and I do love and appreciate those. What I never get these days is a long, newsy and witty letter from anyone.

Alas, what I do get is a mailbox full of appeals from non-profit organizations asking for donations. Sometimes they include address labels, a little notepad, or a dime stuck to the letter expressing some sad situation that only I can help alleviate. I occasionally get a choice of a backpack or a warm velour throw if my donation is over a certain amount. Often I receive a gracious letter of thanks for a donation I’ve given, with the suggestion that perhaps I’d like to begin donating monthly. I’d save postage and time because my generous donation would be automatically deducted from my checking account!

Lately, every non-profit in the land has apparently figured out that since I’ve reached such a great age, I won’t be around much longer. The suggestion then is this: Why not join so many others whose good works continue after they’ve shed these mortal bodies by becoming part of this esteemed “legacy” group. Please, before it’s too late, remember us in your will! I’m getting accustomed if not inured to those appeals. It might be fun to tell all twenty or thirty of them that I plan to leave 100 percent of my estate to each of them.

Another letter I receive these days with some frequency is the one from the funeral home or the cremation society. I can’t help feeling that these businesses are a little like buzzards circling a dying animal. They want me to pay for disposing of my own corpse before I even croak! I am thinking of returning each of these letters to the various senders with a warm note, declaring how much I look forward to doing business with their particular firm. I would have to explain that I require a casket made entirely of polished acacia wood, measuring exactly 7.43 feet long by 63.3 inches wide. The top of the casket, I would maintain, must be studded with 88 emeralds of exactly half-carat each, set in a fleur de lis pattern, and I would expect the interior of the casket to be fully lined with apricot satin embroidered with tiny black poodles. I would request an estimate at their earliest convenience.

Of course, this letter would not do for the various cremation businesses I frequently hear from, but I am already thinking of the equally gracious letter I will write just for them.

Nadine Smith

A native of Oklahoma, Nadine Smith holds a master’s degree in adult education from Arizona State University.

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