Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n11)
Right in my Own Backyard - Well Cared for Endings - by Brandt Carter
posted: May 28, 2010
Well Cared for Endings
End of life is an odd topic to connect with my backyard, but this is where my first experience of it began.
As a youngster, my first encounter with death involved a goldfish that passed to fish heaven and was carefully given a match box casket burial. I put a bit of tissue in the little box, nestled the golden carcass on the kleenex pillow, and slowly slid the rectangular cover around the box. Our backyard was the perfect graveyard. After digging a small hole in my mother's flower garden (a safe place), my brother, sister, and I stood around the gravesite, placed the little box in the ground, and bid a fond farewell. After patting the dirt back in place, life went on. Only the smell of sulfur from the matchbox lingered on my fingers. We would replace the departed pet with a new turtle, fish, or kitten.
I don't remember ever having one of our kittens die when I was younger, but they did mysteriously disappear. When I got older, my pets spent their life cycle with me. We now have a small pet graveyard at the side of our house. Each grave is marked with early blossoming snowdrops and later blooming hostas. Ivy blankets the graves and disguises the site as a shade garden. I am now planting burning bushes that some day will have a gate in the hedge. Knowing my faithful companions are near is very comforting.
Comfort of a well cared for ending also extends to my life. I draw peace from the assurance that I will ultimately be taken care of by Flanner and Buchanan in Broad Ripple. This mortuary has long been part of my life. Folks who live out their days in and around the Broad Ripple know they will probably pass through Flanner and Buchanan's doors. I have attended many funerals of friends and family and am comforted by the sameness of the building that is such a fixture on the avenue.
Newly built Flanner and Buchanan in Broad Ripple in 1954.
image courtesy of Bruce Buchanan
In a phone conversation, Bruce Buchanan told me more about the stately Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Center that has been a part of the Broad Ripple community since 1954. He said his family opened in this location as the city's population moved north. The first Flanner and Buchanan had been in downtown Indianapolis in the 1880s. The next location was at Fall Creek and Meridian Street across from the then St. Vincent's Hospital. "We thought we had a sign that this would be a good location because a big bird about the size of a stork or heron landed on our chimney on opening day."
Bruce told me that Flanner and Buchanan had to promise NO funeral processions down Haverford in order to be allowed the location on Broad Ripple Avenue. The funeral home is in fourth generation hands. He said it is second only to Clabber Girl Baking Powder as the longest family-owned business in Indiana.
Time moves on and the Buchanan brothers, Bruce and Brian, are also changing. Today the funeral home has been remodeled to offer the community an event suite for catered and family gatherings. Flanner and Buchanan now offers pet cremations, an online condolence website, and broadcast capabilities for streaming coverage of a funeral and recording the funeral for family and friends. Another new development will be a rotating photo exhibit of Broad Ripple sites. This stalwart Indianapolis family has served many residents of the area. We appreciate their dedication to being good neighbors and to caring for us so thoughtfully.