Emily Dickinson once wrote :
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality. *
I know it seems morbid to talk about your death, or what kind of funeral you want to have. Death visits us all my friend, sooner or later. Many people avoid this topic forever, and end up with some generic, bland, Holiday Inn sort of funeral with trite readings that sound like Hallmark cards, all because their surviving relatives were too distraught to know what to do or to think clearly. So I'm putting it out there : this is the kind of funeral I want. Any of you reading this who survive me (you know who you are !) , I am counting on you to help my loved ones arrange all this . It really will be better for ALL of you.
Had a conversation, recently, with one of my doctors, about all my health problems, (read "Disease of the Month " Club, in this blog, Dec 2008, for more on that topic ) and he casually threatened that I could be shaving 10-15 years off my life if I don't do a better job managing certain aspects of my health. I was discussing this verdict with some of my gfs at lunch one day, and one of them said, "How good is that last 10-15 years, anyways? " Which brings up so many questions ; sure, I'd rather go off a cliff like Thelma and Louis, maybe on a motorcycle instead of in a car, maybe with Brad Pitt as well !!! , than suffer and be in a hospital and tethered to machines. But I digress....
My funeral wishes :
1)First, don't spend a lot of money on a casket, or embalming me, or a funeral plot or headstone. Absolutely no open caskets or "viewings " !!! (Bleeech !!! ) Don't let those folk at the local funeral parlor guilt trip you into doing this. I believe that once I am dead, my body is dead - my spirit lives on, but I don't need or care about those earthly things any more. Here's what I'd rather you did with all that money:
2)Cremate me. You, survivors, family and friends, I ask you to take a wonderful trip with the money you would have spent on a funeral ( there will be a nice insurance policy with plenty of funds available for you to do this) , and go somewhere that I loved - Greece, Italy, France, anywhere along the Mediterranean - and spread my ashes on the wind, the water, along the sites where I spent so many happy times in my youth. Really, this will make me so much more at peace, bring me - and you! so much more joy, than being in the cold hard ground. I will feel like I am getting one last chance to share something of my life with you; it will be a healing experience for us both.
2)Next : Plan an Irish wake for me. I am serious, I want a big BIG party to celebrate my death... I am not Irish by birth, but I am by marriage, and I've seen enough of these events to know that this is the way to go. Invite 100 people or more, people who knew me, people who didn't. Hire an Irish Celtic band, and rent out the local VFW if you need a room large enough. I want a fully stocked bar, with all major liquors and a margarita machine, good food, a big spread - and dancing. Get a few photos of me from when I was young, thin, cute and peppy, and blow them up to poster size, and prop them onto some easels ( I've got a few at the house you can borrow). Dance, eat, get drunk ! party, and tell all the old stories. Someone has to make a toast to me every hour, on the hour, and then everyone has to drink. Tell all the old jokes, ( a guy walks into a bar.... ) and share all the old anecdotes - about the time I danced on the bar at Valhalla, about the time I rode a motorcycle up Mt Ida on Crete and nearly died, about the time I got drunk with one of my bfs and tried to sneak onto an airplane bound for New Orleans. All about when a childhood friend and I tried to joust on our bicycles, when we tried to play practical jokes on drivers late at night at Hide-A-Way Lake, about the time we snuck onto the golf course and made love, walking up Riverside Park in the rain holding hands, when we spent part of our senior prom at a cemetery, the friends who wanted to build a copy of the bridge of the Enterprise in someone's garage. Tell about the days each of my children were born, and how I met the hubster and all about our wedding 14 years later. Hire some kid to play the bagpipes, and have him play "Amazing Grace". Get drunk, have fun, celebrate my life; don't mourn my death.
* I love this poem, in spite of its morbid topic. Perhaps that would be a nice one to read at the service......if you must, I'd rather have a Church of England service, or else gather together with some of my Buddhist friends and read some Isak Dineson, that poem by Auden she reads at Finch-Hatten's funeral is a good one, even if too masculine.....