"'You can take my rifle ... when you pry it from my cold dead hands!'"Just in case you are living on the moon ... Charlton Heston has passed away at age 83 (he didn't turn 84 yet, despite what you may have read -- his birthday would have been in October).
I'm sure many people have heard this quote accompaning the news casts of this great man's passing.
I can imagine him having requested that his favorite rifle (the one he held above his head during this speech) be buried in the coffin with him with his fists wrapped around it tightly -- only question would be whether it would be loaded or not.
In the olden days (read: pioneer days) it would have been loaded for hunting on the other side - or to finish the job if you were accidentally buried while still alive [see explaination at bottom] , but these days there may be worries/concerns about the safety of such a thing .... accidental discharge during the funeral or theives getting a hold of it later. So I'm guessing they probably would just include the ammo by his legs and take out the firing pin.
I was very much saddened when I heard he had symptoms consistant with Alzheimer's - now I've heard reports saying he had it ... but it was not released that he actually had Alz. just that he had tests that were consistant with it -- and anyone who has ever gone thru such a period with an elderly person knows, there are several other possible causes, other ailments which disquise themselves as Alz. and are often misdiagnosed .... so I am willing to take the high road here and say that until there is some official report by either his widow or one of his doctors directly ...
NOTE: I'm sure by now most of you have heard the story but for those who don't:
SAVED BY THE BELL: during the black plague, and before the practice of embalming, it was not uncommon for people to revive once buried - Saint Christopher, for instance - and would try to claw their way out of their graves ... some made it most did not.
Out of this tragedy came the practice of "grave watching" and the running of a piece of twine from inside the coffin up thru the soil and was attached to a bell. If a person revived, finding themselves in their grave, all they would have to do is pull the string (once they got done freaking out) and the person left to sit along side the grave that night would unbury them.
WAKE: Well the name kind of says it all doesn't it? The day or two (sometimes up to a week, depending on era & culture) was another way that people developed for preventing burying a person who's body simply refused to give up. By having the extended period of 'veiwing', it gave a person the chance of recovering before the undertaker went thru the bother of burial.
SAINT CHRISTOPHER: I was told during high school that when the Church decided to move St. Chris from his original burial spot to the now permanent location they opened his coffin to confirm that it was him (based on items buried with him) and upon opening the lid they discovered marks on the lid indicating that he had revived within his tomb and had attempted to escape -- not being The Bride from 'Kill Bill' it didn't work. This did however throw his St.hood into turmoil. That is why he is considered a 'saint by popularity' -- much like Pope JP2 & Mother Teresa (although I would have a tough time calling her St. Teresa of Calcutta).
VAMPIRES: Yes if you thought the imagery of grave sitters sounds familiar ... it should be. This is probably where so many legends of vampires rising from their graves comes from. While my understanding is that the grave-sitters only stood /watched over the grave for a single night ... some vampire legends have them rising from their graves up to three days after burial (I presume that these are the cultures that practiced immediate burial with a minimum amount of 'wake').
STAKE TO THE HEART: Just their way of making sure that a person wasn't going to rise out of the grave -- usually used on those who had once risen from the grave and then re-expired.
Look -- more info than you ever wanted to know about death.