Roll your eyes and snicker if you must. You must know I would write about this someday, and the timing couldn’t be better. Last week I went to a family funeral, and the week before, our country saw the funeral of Nancy Reagan, which was on the anniversary of the outstanding ceremony posthumously honoring my long-deceased relative in London. My hobby is researching the dead, so with all of that, I have amassed a lot of thoughts on my own final service. (Did anyone laugh when they heard that Nancy planned her funeral?)
I have read a lot of disappointing, inaccurate, and incomplete obituaries in my time. It is crucial that it must be correct so that someone researching our tree one hundred years from now knows my maiden name, married name, name of my parents, including Grandma’s maiden name, and the name of all my children and grandchildren. Don’t omit my complete date of birth as well as the fact that I was born in Morristown, New Jersey. And please add a paragraph or two about what a fun and interesting person I was. (I will send you a few sample templates if you wish!)
Pictures in the obit are fine, but don’t use one of twenty-five year old me unless it is adjacent to a photograph of ninety-five year old me. I would be happy if you used the photo on my Library of Congress card. It’s a good alternative to any picture of me taken in the seventies.
As the family photographer, Kelly is responsible for the slide show, so start collecting the pics now. I think that if you go back to some of my earlier blog posts, you can begin to put together a nice folder of “Mommy through the years.”
Remember the music. After the funeral in London, I told Dad I thought a bagpiper adds a nice touch. “Taps “is also nice, but I don’t need both. Since I live in South Carolina, a twenty-one gun salute could easily be arranged by asking all my Second-Amendment-loving friends.
I learned there is a big difference between a professional bagpiper and a third-string bagpiper, but sometimes there is no choice. If one of the grandchildren becomes a trumpet player (we still have Dad’s old trumpet in the attic), then that gets my vote; otherwise, Aunt Ar and Aunt Ellen can hum “Taps.”
During the slide show, I have assembled a list of five songs lasting just about twenty minutes. If you must choose only one song, then it must be the Barry Manilow song, but you could dance and sing along to the rest at what Aunt Ar calls the “meal of mercy” after words. (Sorry to those who dislike Barry. It is my last wish!)
- Can’t Smile Without You- Barry Manilow
- We’ll Meet Again- Sinatra
- 50 Nifty United States (This is in honor of my license plate game. Wendy, you must discuss this at my eulogy.)
- That’s What Friends Are For- Dionne Warwick
- God Only Knows- Beach Boys
- (Sandstorm- Darude. If there is time, in honor of my late-found love of football.)
There must be a eulogy or a roast at the meal of mercy. There is no negotiation on this! My guests do not need to wear black, unless they don’t look good in colors. But pink, blue, green, yellow are fine. No orange. Who really looks good in orange?
I want to be cremated, and no open casket. If some of you need to peek first to ensure you are rid of me, that is okay.
I have given some thought to Aunt El’s idea of turning my remains into jewelry that you can all wear, but that is her thing. I don’t want to take that away from her. I will think about where the ashes should be sprinkled. Dad says on the golf course, but that is for him. I will let you know my preferences.
Oh, yes. The last thing is the flowers. I like lilies and daffodils. Just not roses or dandelions. But don’t spend a lot of money on that. I like basil too, and I have lots of rosemary in my back yard if money is tight the year I die. So there you go. Have I left out anything?
As an alternative to this, you can throw me a big party for my 80th birthday, and follow all the above instructions except for the obit and the cremation. Then I would get to enjoy the party!