No sooner had I finished my year in review, in which, among other things, I noted the absence of any funerals or weddings requiring the “King of the Robe” to wear dress clothes, than I found myself in a packed church for a funeral. As I sat there amongst hundreds of people, I couldn’t escape the crushing realization that my funeral could probably be held in the church bathroom, with little to no waiting at the urinals for those with more pressing needs.
The deceased was not much older than myself, was in better shape, exercised more regularly, ate better, was better looking and so well-liked that many of those in attendance wore a look of “So, this is what a church looks like from the inside.” If I left money in my will for three kegs and barbecue, I couldn’t get half this many people. Still, if he could go at this age, I figured I should probably give some thought to my sendoff.
If there is an express line at the Pearly Gates for those with perfect attendance at church, I most assuredly have too many items in my cart. Despite this fact, I do attend regularly enough to have some favorite hymns. I bring this up because it seems to be somewhat protocol that the favorite hymns of the deceased are played during his service. Yeah, about that.
I said I had some favorite hymns, I didn’t say they were burning up my iPod. When I’m sitting in church, I find them enjoyable, but I’ll be indebted to anyone who can find enough religious relevance in “Johnny B. Goode” or “Margaritaville” to justify their presence on the pulpit. And let’s all be honest here, so will you. I’m not close-minded enough to dispute the gift that opera singers have, but I wouldn’t want one of them to be my Secret Santa, much less the opening act for my final act. There’s a reason glasses shatter and birds explode when opera singers step on the gas; it’s the only way out.
I’m kind of undecided on the casket being open or closed. I haven’t done any modeling since 1970-never and even though a stiff upper lip can be admirable, I’ve never heard tell of rigor mortis giving anyone that special glow. Then again, a couple of people still owe me money. Perhaps they’d be willing to pay me back over my dead body instead of their’s. I wouldn’t want to deny them a last chance to clear their cheap and guilty conscious by sticking some cash in the coffer (Coffer? Coffin? Get it? Jeez, who’s dead here anyway?)
I guess I’d like somebody to speak at my funeral, but the thought of giving someone the last word scares me to death. I mean, think about it. I’m lying there with the most decidedly, incurable case of lockjaw and suddenly it’s “Open Mike Night.” I don’t see that ending well for me, even if I have already, well, ended. And anybody that gets up there saying something nice is walking a fine line between believability and bs. Be warned, the “Pinocchio Police” will be locked and loaded.
Have you ever asked yourself if you want people to be sad or happy at your funeral? I suppose “both” is a fair answer. Surely, we want to be missed enough that people are sad that we’re gone, but no one truly wants their loved ones to feel sad, either, so you’d like them to be happy, even if you have packed up and moved away to the great state of decomposition.
My father is 87 years old. The first time I saw him cry was at his older sister’s funeral. Aunt Cile had finished raising him after their parents had passed away and she was a first-ballot Hall of Fame person to all that knew her, myself included. Dad is from the “Tin Man Generation,” the one that fears tears, forever mindful of rusting over and left waiting in the woods for Dorothy and the Scarecrow to show up, but the sadness was just too great.
At the funeral the other night, the widow and her two daughters walked in after everyone was seated. The last time I had seen them all together had been in the very same church, with their father. It was very sad, and as a father myself, even more so to see him missing. I could only hope that the hundreds in attendance brought some type of warmth to the family.
The church was so crowded that our family was sitting on folding chairs in the back. That night, I made a commitment to become the type of person that will have people sitting on folding chairs at my funeral. They’re going to have to leave the stall door open to see, and be mindful that those auto-flushing toilets don’t interrupt the service, but other than that, they should be just fine.
- - -
Kevin asked us to clean up and paraphrase his e-mail about his “Life is Heald” T-shirts after he said someone wrote him wanting to know if he was serious. Yes, he was serious and “Buy a freakin’ T-shirt” is as clean as we could get it. Details at LIFEisHEALD.blogspot.com or LIFEisHEALD@yahoo.com.