My father calls one afternoon to ask if I’ve made funeral arrangements. “For you,” I ask, “or for me?”

“I know this is a morbid subject,” he says, “but your number’s gonna be up someday just like everybody else’s. You could be walking down the street, minding your own business and-Wham! Heart attack or truck, you’ll never know what hit you. It wouldn’t hurt to be prepared.”

“I’ve already made plans,” I tell him.

“So you couldn’t use a casket?”

’’I’m going to be cremated.”

His hearing aid whines. “You’re what?”

’’I’m going to be cremated!” I shout. The phone is in the spare room I use as an office. Sketches are taped to my drafting board, blueprints spread across the floor.

“Your mother’s sister, Estelle, was cremated,” my father informs me. “You probably don’t remember her because she died before you were born, but let me tell you her ashes were heavy, all those little bits of bone. Of course, Estelle was a big gal. Zaftig, we called it.Jake, her husband, invented the windshield…