A grave digger - slightly younger than 89 - competes in the Grave Digging Championships in Trencin, Slovakia, last week. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RONALD ZAK
Jimmy Kickham, an 89-year-old business owner from Canada's Prince Edward Island, prompted a few raised eyebrows earlier this year with his decision to dig his own grave.
Mr Kickham used his own Massey Ferguson digger, which he bought 45 years ago, to excavate the hole at his local church while his seven children looked on.
“Perhaps I’m the only one in Canada who has done that at my age with my own backhoe and my own family,” he told the Guardian, adding: “I was kind of proud of what I was doing.”
The octagenarian owns his own construction firm, and for the last 50 years has dug countless trenches for sewer mains, power lines and the like. “I love digging," Mr Kickham told CBC. "Just one of those things that gets into your system. It’s just work. Money. No matter what they wanted dug, I could do it.”
Mr Kickham told the Guardian the process of digging his own grave was fairly swiftly accomplished. He and his family left home at around 6pm, and the job was done by approximately 7.45.
In that time he had not only dug the five-feet-deep hole, but also lowered in in a pine box, into which his coffin will eventually be placed, then covered it with a layer of soil.
When the time comes, he told CBC, he had wanted an old-fashioned burial “where a few days before the funeral, the grave would be dug and a pine box would be lowered into the hole and covered with the Island’s red clay." With some of the preliminary steps taken care of, his family will have a few less things to worry about.
Asked whether he thought other people would consider him strange for digging his own grave, Mr Kickham said: "Oh, there'll be a lot of them have some remarks about it, but if they're not talking about me, they'll be talking about somebody else."