Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good-bye leads to I Love You

Three funerals, all men, one week.

Bill's Memorial Service, Life Celebration, Party of Honor was a huge shindig last week. It was a total bummer because he wasn't there. It was his kind of party. There was a military presentation, a bagpiper, an open bar, musicians, food, tons of people, and then there was that open bar.

An endless stream of women stood up, many of them wearing stick 'em mustaches in his honor. The comments all were of a theme: Intro - "Bill, that bastard"; Middle - some crazy Bill story involving wanting to kill him; Second Verse - some crazy Bill story involving him doing something sweet and selfless; Closing - "I love you, Bill, and I will miss you."

The carpenter shared Bill's feeding of salami and gorgonzola to his dog. I kept mum. I was feeling a little full emotionally. I was also wearing heels as I do about once a year. That meant I was about 6' 3" and the air is really thin up there, so I just yelled "Here Here!" and "Amen" and even once "Huzzah!"

The next funeral was for "the Boat" who also died too darn young, whom I adored, and who, imagine this - was also a character. One of his buddies said it best when he said, "The Boat was complex." Absolutely.

A few factoids about the Boat which I am glad were included in the service... he was gutsy. He practiced law with courage and conviction, defending those that most lawyers do not or can not defend. He was also known to warm a bar stool every now and again. He felt that the "Emotional Rescue" LP by the Rolling Stones was one of the truly great accomplishments of modern society. He was ornery, argumentative, and over the brim with brains. In short, the Boat was an unconventional, non-conformist bad ass. AMEN! HUZZAH!

I knew the last man the least. His was one of those funerals you attend out of respect for who he was and what he did. This one was a funeral director. His funeral home helped out my family on a few occasions. They did a good job, were thoughtful, and didn't do anything stupid. I greatly appreciated it. He was not a cutting edge funeral director, did not think outside the box much, and we were not more than acquaintances. But I did not want to miss his service.

Funerals are not just for the people who knew them best, loved them the most, owed them some money. Funerals are an opportunity to honor another human being and what they lived for. It is a chance to show the people who mourn them that their loved one made a difference to others too. I hear too often, "I'm not going to the funeral. He's gone and I won't know anyone there." SO WHAT? You knew him and if he meant anything to you, don't you have one last hour to give him?

The thing about funerals for me is that, when I am lucky enough to not have to conduct them, I always get something out of them. I think about the people who showed up. I remember something about the person that I had forgotten. I think about others with whom I'd like to reconnect. Even if the service is the pits I can get something out of it. I think what I would have said, how I think they should be honored, what I want to remember about them.

I grieve at funerals and it helps; helps me to remember what I hold dear and why. After this week I should really have a good grip on that, I guess.

Maybe that's why I overdid it on Valentine's Day. The husband got tons of chocolate and a CD from a favorite band. (He already had "Emotional Rescue.") The kids got toys and candy. The best friend got bacon. (He's on the all meat diet.) The carpenter got pop rocks. The dogs got belly rubs... it goes on.

It's a good week. It's a good life.


1 comment:

Lizard Eater said...

Gorgeous. I love, love, love the way you appreciate a good funeral. And don't consider that an oxymoron.