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This is working on being the longest day…

Posted in Crazy Wisdom on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 at 3:14 pm by flerly.

As JamesT mentioned last night, we are back from a very draining family experience — a funeral. JT’s great-grandmother finally died Friday afternoon, and his father wanted James up there first thing Saturday to help with arrangements and things. What we — as in JT and I — didn’t know was that she had pre-arranged everything, which made it seem even more odd that JT should need to be involved in arrangements — especially that early on a Saturday. As it turns out, it’s just a very small family on his father’s side. His great-grandmother had one daughter, Reba, who had only one son, JT’s Dad, and then JT is the only grown great-grandson, with his little brother being only 7 now. That’s a grand total of five people who cover an entire four generations, making the people involved in the planning make a little more sense. Wait, now let’s explain why I was there….

… but, the funeral home stuff wasn’t too hard for me. Turns out I was just enough detached to offer a lot of help, including taking JT’s grandmother out shopping for somethings to wear to the viewing and services. Not so detached, however, that I got out of the Sunday 8-hour stint at the funeral home, and the Monday 5-hour stint at the funeral home, including the service and a ride in the family car to the cemetery. I even got to bring home two plants (which will shortly be at Mom’s, since the cats are already eating them) and have six lovely roses from the casket spray (courtesy of JT’s Dad) here on my desk. Morbid? I guess, but the roses were lovely and they would have all ruined left out overnight in the weather there.

The whole experience was stressful, and not just in the typical “we’ve lost a loved one” sort of way. His great-grandmother had been very sick and weak for a while now, and considering her very pitiful state of existence, it is somewhat of a relief to have an end to her suffering. In fact, in the only six years I’ve known JamesT and his family, she’s been in such poor health that I can’t say I ever really got to know her, so it’s more what funerals generally make you think about that stresses me. I talked about arrangements that I might want with James’ stepmom for a while — and we’re both for cremation. She was sort of like me, not really used to the sort of southern funeral that we were both now involved in. It was only possible to do a day and a half of viewing before the service because of the schedule of some of the pallbearers, which upset grandma Reba a bit. She wanted at least another couple days — I can’t imagine having to sit at the funeral home for another full eight-hour day, but that’s exactly what it would have meant. Hard to sneak out of a gathering of such a small family. Also, the fact that the funeral parlor had it’s own private kitchen was odd to me. Not just coffee and water, but a fridge and microwave and tables… and that people expected that and knew to bring food up everyday right to the funeral home… that was freaky to me. One minute you’re gathering in a room around a body and the next, Hey, want a sandwich? let’s just pop in the next room? Just didn’t seem somber, or respectful, or…. ugh. I dunno, considering how folks just wear whatever to drop by and don’t even need a suit to be a pallbearer anymore or even slow down in traffic to allow a funeral procession to keep together… it’s just a mess.

It’s a mess I very much decided I don’t want to have for myself in the future. Thus, JamesT and I talked a little about what sort of plans we might want for ourselves, and what we might do if we had to arrange a service for each other anytime in the near future. The weirdest part would be picking songs, I think. No relative of his, no matter HOW bossy, is going to convince me that it would be a better tribute to JamesT to hear some nice gospel music than to hear Smashing Pumpkins, so they can just deal. I asked him if he would be upset if I let them play “Say Hello to Heaven”, since it’s a good song but does have Chris Cornell singing. I also confessed since I started thinking about funeral songs that I couldn’t get Alice in Chains “Them Bones” out of my head, and wondered how freaked out my loved ones would be at hearing that one. Who picked THAT song, they might ask him. She did, he’d say.

Ugh. So, I think I want cremation for sure, especially if they will do it with my teddy bear =) Flowers I do love, so a memorial or gathering would be doable, as long as everyone agrees to sit around and listen to some of my favorite music and drink lots of wine while they chit-chat. I don’t really even want a marker someplace. As cheesy as it sounds, I think I’d just like my ashes tossed someplace I loved, like the ocean or something. I’d rather not have loved ones coming to a cemetery, standing by a stone, and trying not to think how only six-feet below them are some remains that aren’t looking too great these days, despite the “enviroseal” and whatever. Oh, don’t ask me how often we bit our tongues not to tell people about the Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode about the funeral industry ripoffs while we were there.

So, JamesT and I decided we should start putting together our memorial boxes, where I’ll keep copies of music I’ll torture people with from the afterlife, and start buying cheap bottles of wine so they can age and perhaps become tolerable. Does that work with scotch? We could buy some nice cheap scotch, too, and hope we live long enough to make it not suck.



  1. aoide has made a Comment

    I think when I die I am going to want what ever music, arrangements, etc. that will make my closest person feel best (husband or whomever). I figure if they will feel better with me in the ground or out to sea, so be it. It won’t matter to me much what with being dead and all. They can play polka music at the funeral for all I care if it puts a smile on their face! = )

    December 14, 2004 @ 8:17 am

  2. flerly has made a Comment

    See, I agree. I’m just sort of thinking, too, of things that I loved that would make people think of me. Figured, I tortured JamesT on so many road trips listening to Stone Temple Pilots over and over, it might be nice to do that one last time “from the beyond.” =)

    You know, if I really wanted to pick things I loved, I could make everyone sit and listen to every Harry Potter book on tape.

    December 14, 2004 @ 8:38 am

  3. infinite1der has made a Comment

    I’d have to veto that… Perhaps just the score of the movies…

    December 14, 2004 @ 8:44 am

  4. flerly has made a Comment

    Okay, so there’d be a clause in the official “arrangements document” — If Brad Bailey is in attendance at this service, the full unabridged versions of all published Harry Potter Books will be played. Or, I could give him the choice to hear all the books or watch all three Lord of the Rings flicks, extended versions. =) Spitefulness from Beyond. Wouldnt it be appropriate?

    Oh Brad, we tease because we care.

    And for you, Honey, depending on the time of year, we could turn your service in a movie marathon of your favorites, and have everyone speak along with Batman and Airplane.

    December 14, 2004 @ 8:48 am

  5. flerly has made a Comment

    Hey, it occured to me if that really IS in my “official arrangements” document, i’ve pretty much assured neither you nor Brad would try to bump me off anytime soon, lest you be stuck with having to endure the service.

    December 14, 2004 @ 8:50 am

  6. anonymous has made a Comment

    It’s your funeral, play all the Harry Potter/LOTR crap you want! Just keep the fire going, since there will be a second body to take care of.

    I say hey sky, s’other say I won say I pray to J I get the same ol’ same ol.


    December 14, 2004 @ 9:25 am

  7. bingothemonkey has made a Comment

    Coming off of a funeral weekend myself (my uncle), I’d have to agree with your cremation decision. I don’t want everyone gathering in a chapel crying. Have a fucking party, you know? How often do you get to see each other? I’m dead. I don’t know what you’re doing. Enjoy your together time alive. I would be sorry that I had to die to get you together, but again, I’m gone, I can’t really complain. Sitting around mourning, crying and spending 8-12 hour days doing it? How is this doing me or you any good? It isn’t even a tribute to me. Just spend the time loving each other and remembering times we had. Oh, and drinking and eating (a lot).

    December 15, 2004 @ 1:02 am

  8. bingothemonkey has made a Comment

    you know they’re going to cry either way! but i agree – you have to make arrangements that consider the closest people to you that are living. you aren’t suffering anymore. they are. you make an excellent point.

    December 15, 2004 @ 1:07 am

  9. aoide has made a Comment

    Well Thank you!

    December 15, 2004 @ 1:19 am

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