jemyl: My orange male cat, Brudder (Default)
One of Ravan's recent posts struck a nerve with me, really resonated in the wake (pun intended) of a large number of recent deaths, wakes and funerals in our local fire service and my Lions' Club(s) present and past. I don't like funerals either, for somewhat the same reasons as Ravan.

Funerals and other such memorial services are not for the dead. They are for those left behind to get some sort of closure. In December of 2005 and January of 2006 I had two of the things to plan, first for my mother and then for Bill, my husband. The two of them died twenty-four days apart, in December of 2005.

It was not an unexpected event for either of them. In fact, it was a blessing and, indeed, a beautiful thing for both. Mama died one day after my deceased dad's birthday and Bill just before New Year's. I think she went to be with him after a month of misery with C-diff, increasing blindness and dementia and a long hospital stay. Bill died in my arms after five years in bed following a disabling stroke. Both were ready to go.

For both of their services I requested happy hymns, their favorites, and that the preacher's involved emphasize that we were there to celebrate their moving to another stage of their journey. In each service I asked that friends share happy memories of Mama or of Bill, what the person meant to the friend as a celebration of their life well lived. Mom's service ended with the hymn I'll Fly Away at the funeral home before we went to the cemetery where she received full fire department honors, including the traditional Amazing Grace on bagpipes, the ceremonial folding and presentation of the flag and the County Wide Last Call broadcast on the radio. It was a beautiful tribute to her and all she had done for Putnam County EMS and the formation of the West Putnam Volunteer Fire Dept, Inc.

When I die I want people to celebrate my life and also my death. I want my body to be cremated after any parts that can be used are harvested and donated to help others. Any memorial service that people choose to have I ask that the songs and hymns be upbeat. My favorite hymns are the first verse of Blest Be The Tie That Binds, Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, In The Garden, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Pass It On, Morning Has Broken, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Lord of the Dance, Just a Closer Walk With Thee and Kumbaya. If I had my druthers, I'd have each person share one happy memory or good thing that I had done with or said to them and everyone would sing all of my favorite songs and end with I'll Fly Away, 'cause that's what I'll be doing. Then all could go to the cemetery,or some could to simply spread my ashes over the family plot and then everyone go have a happy party in my honor. Now, since I'm only 70 years young, I may have a few more songs to add to this list before I leave this earth for the next part of my soul's being. Whenever it occurs, though, please make sure my "funeral" has lots of fun in it. Save your tears for someone who can't say they lived and loved well as I can. Like Frank Sinatra, I did it my way (and it was and continues to be always an interesting journey) Peace -----Ellen


jemyl: My orange male cat, Brudder (Default)

July 2012

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