Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When I die.

I went to a funeral.
Lord, it made me happy,
Seein' all those people
That I ain't seen
Since the last time
Somebody died.

Lyle Lovett
Joshua Judges Ruth

___________

I was driving around the local cemetery, as I do sometimes at night on patrol. I saw the graves of some strangers, some friends, some heroes, and some well-met persons that I'll never get to meet. I don't patrol the cemetery to commiserate with the dead, but to prevent that same sickening feeling I felt when, a few years back, I found the damage wrought by vandals in a cemetery, on my shift. I'd like to have a little chat with such people.

As I drove through the cemetery, I thought yet again that it's an eerie trend that has arisen lately in rural graveyards, to put solar-powered LED lamps around the grave. As you drive by, you see little lights twinkling among the stones. The twinkle is caused by the occlusion of their view, by nearer stones as I move past. I've hit my brakes more than a few times when driving by.

Don't do that to me, when I die. Just don't.
Come to think of it, I've got a little list of things that I want when I die.

--Harvest any organs that they'll take. If they want 'em, let 'em have 'em. I don't care if they want to bleach my skull to make a paper weight for the dean's office; let me be of use.

--Because I know that they won't let my body be ground up and spread over croplands like in Burgess' The Wanting Seed, I want what remains that they didn't harvest burnt. While the Viking funeral appeals, let's just simplify things and agree to throw my mortal coils into a kiln, turn the thing on High, and y'all can step out for a tall beer or four. But I insist that I be burned, and no marker be placed. I'll be damned if I'm going to be so arrogant as to take up a 4' X 7' X 6' portion of this planet, with a marker that has to be mowed around, even after my death.

--Ashes? Well, I've got places that I like, and they're known to those that know and love me. The Big Bend. Guadalupe Ntl. Park. Kit Carson Ntl. Forest. Chuck 'em out there. All at once or in piecemeal; I don't care. But they better be gone, completely, within 6 months. No hoarding remains-- that's just creepy.

--I demand a wake. I would like my favorite restaurant rented out a week after my passing, with adequate notice given to all that gave a damn about me. I want the food pre-paid, catered well, and good, with lots of flavor. If you want bland, bring your own. I want the waitstaff''s tips taken care of in advance, and lavishly. I want cases of good wine and beer present. I want bottles of good scotch and bourbon present. I want those bottles sent home with loved ones the same way bouquets sometimes go home with them from weddings and funerals. I expect that happy stories be told among my friends, and I expect that there be some laughter. While it may be turned down for the occasional toast, I expect music to be playing during my wake. Hell, dance if you want-- I'd rather you did. Have a good time, because that's what I want. Do NOT sit around all long-faced. But if you have to do so, then the bourbon and scotch are in the corner. My remains are NOT to attend my wake.

--If there is to be a funeral, I would like a decent piper to play. If you can't find a decent one, don't bother. Few things are worse than suffering through "Scotland The Brave" or "Amazing Grace," when squeaked out by a beginner with a borrowed skirt and a new set of war pipes or GHB pipes. Ugh.

--I do NOT want some blowhard cleric type to perform a eulogy at my funeral. Come to think of it, pastors, ministers, evangelicals, rabis, witch doctors, and other such "spiritual leaders" are forbidden from speaking at my funeral, except as friends, if they were such. I'm serious about this one.

--As I will be cremated, my family is forbidden from purchasing a casket for me. A sack or a cardboard box will transport my body into the furnace quite nicely.

--I don't want people sugar-coating it. I've been a bastard at times, and we all know it. Pretending I haven't dishonors the good memories, as well.
_ _ _

I've got no plans to kick it any time soon, friends. But when I do, remind my family of this blog, would you? There's a pal. :)

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18 Comments:

At Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:45:00 AM, Blogger The Lily said...

*laughs* Did my pessimism prompt you to put it in writing? If so, then I apologize.

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 9:17:00 AM, Blogger Peter said...

Oh, Matt, you have NO IDEA the eulogy I'm going to deliver when the time comes, if I'm spared to do so!

:-)

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Fixit said...

Have you seen the you tube copy of Graham Chapman's funeral?

might be in the same vain as what you're after:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsHk9WC7fnQ

As an eerie coincidence, I just happened to pop in to read before I go off to mow the cemetery I take care of.

Mr Fixit.

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

I'm going to do pretty much the same thing.

I see too much good land taken up by bronze meat boxes and headstones.

The Native Americans had the right idea..feed the vultures.

No funeral for me I just want anyone who gived a crap to have a pizza and beer bash.

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Chip said...

That could be exactly my wishes with one addition, I told the guys I work with that if I am killed in the line of duty and you bastards give one of those maudlin Fire Department Funerals I will come back and haunt my firehouse forever.

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 2:55:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

CB: Maybe just a tad. But it's been percolating up, lately.

Peter: So long as it's not told from a Spiritual tack, buddy.

FixIt: I've been meaning to find and watch it. I understand that Cleese was rather irreverent. Good for him.

Chip: They'd know that I was making a false threat; I'm not much of one for discussing afterlives. :)

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 3:01:00 PM, Blogger kbarrett said...

So ... the Coroner's office toilet then?

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 3:22:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

God willing, i'll be there to hoist a few for ya! Good ideas all! My only request is to have someone read High Flight when I go...

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 4:39:00 PM, Blogger Dan O. said...

I've always thought the whole wake, viewing the remains and being eulogized by someone who barely knew you or knew you at all, was a little creepy and even disrespectful and overly costly.

Box me, burn me, toast me("Good riddance" will do).

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 7:09:00 PM, Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

Aside from where you want your ashes spread, you have described my funeral wishes in exact detail.

In that regard, I'm dead serious when I say I want a small portion of my ashes loaded into either a special case of steel shot, or into hunting loads in my buddies' favorite caliber, so that I can hunt after I'm gone. Make a ceremony of it you want, I don't care. As long as my treasured friends are shooting a volley of Kelly every year until the reloads are gone, my spirit will be happy.

And if I have some warning and some say as to the manner of my passing, like say I develop Alzheimer's or incurable cancer, my friend are to equip me with a rifle and a pack, and drive me several days ride deep into the nearest wilderness area, say their goodbyes, and leave without ever looking back.

That's the way I want to go, and I don't begrudge the coyotes a meal.

 
At Saturday, March 21, 2009 11:46:00 PM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

So, dipping you in liquid nitrogen and tossing you off a roof to see how dramatically you shatter is out, then?

 
At Sunday, March 22, 2009 9:42:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

Do I get to speak? I tend a wee bit towards the witch doctor side. :-)

I like most of your funeralish ideas, Matt. Except for the piper, perhaps. But much of what you said could be exactly repeated, for me. If I'm worth remembering, I don't need to take up real estate for that to happen, and if I'm not worth remembering, I still don't need to be taking up real estate...

 
At Monday, March 23, 2009 8:35:00 PM, Blogger Jay G said...

Not me. I've got one word and one word only for after I shuffle off this mortal coil:

Taxidermy.

Heh.

 
At Tuesday, March 24, 2009 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

Sounds all very reasonable to me.

I've put instructions with SHMBO regarding my carcass and a quilt made by my great-great grandmother. Wrap me like a burrito and throw me in the sandy loam next to my great-great grandfather, who I am named for, the 2nd. Lt. Texas Cav. officer who stayed for the Duration. No box, please. If I decide to dig out I don't need an obstacle course.

Or, stick me in a firey pirouge (no, not a pierogie- I ain't no dumpling) and push me down the Sabine until I foul on a snag. Shouldn't take more than 30 feet or so.

Heh. wv=nerverot.

Regards,
Rabbit.

 
At Friday, March 27, 2009 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Hobie said...

Good 'un and much the same as my sentiments re: my own passing.

 
At Saturday, April 04, 2009 9:36:00 PM, Blogger Sailorcurt said...

One thing that has always struck me about this topic: It seems to me that everything that happens after you die is for the benefit of those who survive you...not you.

You're dead...what do you care?

The funeral is not so you feel better about having died...it's for those who survived you to say one last goodby, remember you in whatever way they feel appropriate and get over it so they can get on with their lives.

We don't put grave stones up for the deceased to admire. The markers are for us. So we can visit and feel a sense of connection. So that our descendants will have some connection with where they came from.

As far as I'm concerned, the only true purpose for letting our family know what our wishes are is to give them the sense that they are "honoring" us after we're gone. It's a part of THEIR grieving and healing process. Giving them a concrete plan means they never have to feel that they didn't "do" enough to properly honor us. We basically are saying "do this, and you can feel satisfied that you did enough and get on with your life."

To that end...my only wish is for my family to do whatever they do as inexpensively as they possibly can. Use the cheapest casket, the smallest marker, shop around for the lowest priced funeral home. See that little $15 flower arrangement? Throw away the "get well soon" ribbon and that will do just fine. Basically, I'd hate to think they spent a bunch of money disposing of my carcass after I'm done with it. I don't need it any more. No reason to waste a bunch of money on disposing of it.

Of course, I'll give more detailed instructions than that because it's expected...and I may even go ahead an buy a cheapo casket, a piece of dirt to plant it in and a contract with the least expensive funeral home I can find before I go...just to make sure it's done right.

I don't know...cremation may be even cheaper...I'll have to look into that.

Anyway, that's my take on the subject.

Sorry for rambling. It's late and I'm tired. I did get most of my garden put in today though...Yea me!

 
At Saturday, April 04, 2009 11:07:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

"As far as I'm concerned, the only true purpose for letting our family know what our wishes are is to give them the sense that they are 'honoring' us after we're gone. It's a part of THEIR grieving and healing process. Giving them a concrete plan means they never have to feel that they didn't 'do' enough to properly honor us. We basically are saying 'do this, and you can feel satisfied that you did enough and get on with your life.'"

Sailorcurt, for the most part, I agree with you. But I wonder if you're carrying yours and my philosophies out to their logical conclusions.

I do want them to honor me in the manner that they see fit... but I know that can be hard to do, without some concrete plans in place, and sometimes family don't fully know what the deceased "would have wanted." Well? I solved that little dilemma, didn't I? Also, frankly, I get a little peeved when I go to the funeral of a lifelong lapsed Baptist, and see a rosary clasped improbably in his hands at the viewing. And when I go to the send-off of a life-long athiest, I don't want to hear the words of a preacher telling me about how godly a man he was. Just because the man is dead doesn't mean you get to kick on his way of life.

I'll be DAMNed if I'll pay (and rest assured-- it's paid in advance.) for some witch doctor I don't even know to bore my mourners out of their respective skulls with his mumbled words (or worse-- thundered words) of spiritualism, that everyone there knows I never bought or sold.

We all want a legacy, and I'll guess that mine can be to not impose that crap upon those who see fit to pay their respects. No, it's NOT all about me. But if I can ease the transition from Life With Matt to Life Without Matt by abolishing the sermon, then I'm all fer it!

As for your statement:"To that end...my only wish is for my family to do whatever they do as inexpensively as they possibly can. Use the cheapest casket, the smallest marker, shop around for the lowest priced funeral home."
Could this not possibly be an imposition on the family? Sometimes just going to the nearest funeral home, picking the first package, and writing a check is easiest. (Shrug.) It's your funeral. :) But anything that we ask is an imposition. If we pay in advance, and dispose of the remains so that there's not a grave to tend, the imposition is lessened, in my opinion.

Please note that I am NOT telling you how I think you should have your arrangements made. I was just asking a for-instance. I'm just fine with however people want their own funerals to go, so long as they don't hurt anyone.

 
At Monday, April 06, 2009 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Sailorcurt said...

I understand your point of view...I'm just not wired quite that way.

If my wife has converted to Buddhism by that time and needs to have a monk speak over my grave in order for her to find peace...whatever it takes. Again, I'll be dead so what will I care.

The bottom line is that I don't want my kids or grandkids or wife or whoever survives me to feel that they "didn't do enough". Whatever they need to do to overcome any grief they may feel and get on with their lives is "enough"...my suffering will be over by that point. The vessel that I used during my time on earth can be disposed of in whatever manner is the most convenient and least expensive (after any usable bits are removed for recycling, of course). I'll be done with it by then so it won't really matter to me much.

I'm not trying to demean anyone who does make elaborate and detailed plans for their arrangements...if having a plan and knowing that their remains will receive some specific treatment is of some comfort to them in this life...whatever it takes to stay sane and reasonably healthy...But, honestly...once we're gone, will it really matter to us if the body is buried with a (meaningless to us) rosary in its hands?

Oh...and as far as a legacy...I've no doubts about the legacy that I've left in this life.

Their names are Renee, Joshua, Savanna, Haley and Kathryne...so far.

If I did my job in life right, the legacy will take care of itself.

 

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