Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The End

I have been thinking about funerals today, the myriad of funerals and memorials I have gone to and what they did (or didn’t) do for me.
Funerals are always unique, always a little strange, always unsettling.  There were the big ones, my husband, my sons, my mother’s. There were also a lot for people to whom I had no great attachment but attended out of a sense of duty or respect for the family left behind. From each of these I took memories and sentiments, leaving in exchange a piece of myself in the form of tears or sadness settled down upon the casket or mixed in with the ashes or folded up with the flag and tucked away out of sight until the next service brings them rushing out leaving me to deal with the residual confusion of emotions all over again.
Never fear, I am not going to trot out my angst, lay bare my soul, set out my sins like platters of cheap  buffet food so you can pick through them, discreetly spitting out bits and pieces into your kerchief or a potted plant. Those are mine and God’s and I won’t burden or titillate you with them. What I am doing is planning what I want done in the event of my passing. This ought to be fun!
Pre-passing:
If I am laid up somewhere, a hospital or nursing home or whatever and you get a call from someone saying it’s time to say good bye please feel free to rush to my side. If you loved me, and I loved you it will be nice to say goodbye, I will miss you, take care and travel well. If you did not love me, and I did not love you it will be good for me to say see you, glad I am done with you and for you to say the same. This will give me an opportunity to fantasize about haunting you, making it rain on your picnics etc, finishing up my last hours with a bit of malicious cheer. You in turn can talk bad about me, literally for eternity after that point in time, so we should both be feeling pretty good.
After having been through two bed side vigils, one for a person I actively disliked and one for someone I loved totally I feel safe in saying I don’t want one. No-way-no-how do I want people that I love suffering through that. for everyone else there is no point. You will either stand rocking from foot to foot or sit slumped in a chair fighting a nap and wishing I would just hurry up and get it over with, text discreetly on your phones and leave often for water and bathroom breaks. All in all NOT a good experience for anyone involved. Go home at night, take your kids to the park during the day. If I am going you not being there is not going to change it.  One last thing. The nurses are paid for nursing, let them do it. I do not want my last hours spent watching my loved ones dealing with something as lousy as death.
I’m a Goner:
I have departed this vale of tears, time to get on the phone. First off, call everyone you think would want to know, either friend or foe. Do NOT call a church (or your favorite preacher). I try to be a servant of God, but I am just not too keen on churches in general and, frankly, most preachers. I have barely entered a church or listened to someone preach for 35 years. I am not such a hypocrite that I want one to talk about me when I pass. If doing so would make you feel better then I apologize, but I think my funeral should be about me. After all, this is my last hurrah, give me it in its entirety. Along with no religious trappings goes no casket. Please, cremate me. Bodies are so… extraneous when one has passed don’t you think? Ashes as well in the long run. I want them spread on the earth or the water, or shot up packed into a firework over the sea. Get rid of them. No urns, no boxes, no mantels or closet shelves. They are residue. I was so much more than that. The garden sounds good, or a creek, or hang the container out the car window as you speed down the highway. That is probably illegal but I do love seeing new places and it would make a hell of a photograph is someone had a camera handy! Last but not least, have someone with a sense of humor who loved and respected me write my obituary. Those things hang around forever and I want it to be a good read and I want to sound like a really interesting person. I am vain, what can I say?
Even though I am not a fan of most civilized rituals surrounding death I do love me a good wake. This, ladies and gents, is what makes a celebration of life, not a nod to death in my opinion. Music from Enigma to Billie Holiday to Eminem please! I won’t be offended if people feel the need to shuffle their feet. Dancing is glorious, I say go for it! Liquor should definitely flow freely but someone please keep an eye out. One wake I went to ended up with several women being groped by a drunk that didn’t even know the woman that died. Being evicted from a funeral would give the offender a good story to tell, if they remember it, as well as some lurid entertainment for the more staid attendees. A wake with a bouncer. I like that.
Children should definitely attend, hold it close to a park where they can run free together, calling to each other, shouting into the gloaming of the day. If they remember a lovely laughter filled adventure and not the reason behind it then we have done the job right. For generations cousins have gotten to know each other at weddings and funerals and now is no time to change that.
While I like the solemnity of dark clothes for a funeral, I like the sense of occasion they bring I am certainly not insisting on them for anyone. If I pass in the summer wearing black by choice would be downright masochistic and insisting on it would be sadistic. I am putting my foot down now though. If anyone tries coming into the wake with their pants down around their bottom and their boxers showing toss them out on their ear! If you didn’t respect me enough to pull up your pants why the heck are you at my wake anyway?
Feel free to tell stories about the stupid things I have done. Lord knows I have told plenty of them myself (this blog being a case in point). People are funny! If you want to talk about how I was no saint go home and do it (refer to pre-passing above). I screwed up plenty, I know this, we all do. If I haven’t managed to make amends by the day of my wake I am pretty sure it isn’t going to happen so get over it or trash talk me, just not at my party.
Post Wake
Remember me in some way and know that I have met up with so many I loved and am in a better (or at least vastly different) place.