So maybe Elizabeth Taylor had it right. With all due respect, Elizabeth Taylor left her legacy not with her 45 marriages but by specifying her funeral was to start 15 minutes late. Some part of me thinks it’s hysterical that even in death she made people wait for her. Another part of me likes that she saw that whole “fashionably late” thing clear through to the grave. Yet another part of me respects her proper preparation for the big day. And the last part of me thinks maybe I should get off my ass and start makin’ my own plans!
A few years ago, I read the Sweet Potato Queens series of books. These Southern women with a snide sense of humor, a dry wit, and southern belle charm like to write each other’s redneck obituaries. Between those eloquent trailer trash burials and E.T.’s waitin’-on-a-woman request, I can’t help but think we all need to be a little more proactive on this deal.
Sure, it’s not exactly a fun topic, but why not go out on your own terms? Don’t tell me you haven’t had those thoughts about “Oh, they’d miss me if I wasn’t here to do all their shit work!” Or you’ve thought (with that mouthy woman attitude head shake), “Oh, no, they won’t do THAT when I die!” Or “what I wouldn’t kill to have the last word on that subject!” And maybe some of those people you’ve been silently seething about will get a nasty stick-it-up-yer-ass dear John-type letter arranged to be delivered after you kick the bucket. But don’t even try to pass it off like you haven’t considered it.
Everybody wonders how many people will show up for their funeral. Then again, maybe it’s not about how many but who would show up to cry over your casket or, conversely, kick some dirt over your coffin. I even speculate on what people would say. Would they mourn my death or say good riddance to bad rubbish (yes, my inner devil voice speaks like my mother)? Morbid curiosity makes me wonder if you can’t remember to pick me up at the airport, are you really gonna show up to say your condolences? Like it hasn’t crossed your mind, too?
And if you think about it, I bet you have a funeral or two you won’t ever forget. Was it because the family got in a fist fight? Was it because the drunk daughter staggered out of the limo following the Hearse? Or possibly it was because somebody rapped some Tupac and the crowd rose to their feet kissing the two-finger peace sign farewell? Some interesting things happen in the midst of death and grieving. I can’t begin to explain it. I’ve cried over the touching things and I’ve giggled over the confessions. I’ve been teary-eyed during How Great thou Art and Amazing Grace, but I’ve smiled in spite of sadness when Beach Boys music blared through the speakers or when the Oakland Fight Song was sung with pride in memory of the golden years, and I’ve laughed when the dinner served afterwards had to be steak. And that’s what I want for you and me. Let’s go out with a bang… or at least with chocolate chip cookies for all!
So what would you want? What says “you” to other people? How do you want to be remembered or how should people celebrate, oops, I mean commemorate your passing? Are we going to be forced to eat mini quiches and drink tea? Are we all going to be expected to wear Cubs jerseys? Or is your brother supposed to hand out quarters and say, “call someone who cares”? What do you really want? Do you want us to lie? Do you want people to say what a fabulous person you were? (jk) Do you want it to be a tear-jerker the likes of Titanic or would you rather we party like it’s 1999 again? Do you want us to laugh about how you spilled every time you tried to put food in that big ole mouth of yours? Do you want us to go through a box of Puffs because the world is going to suck without you? Do you want to leave us with signed autographs of your best side (being your butt, of course) or do you want us to just do it the old traditional way because it’s not like you’ll be there for it anyway? These are some things to ponder.
I’m not gonna lie, when I think about it, I just can’t fathom being dead and I think I’m even more mortified by what things might get brought up at my funeral! I try to be a good person, but let’s be realistic: I’m not all sunshines and lollipops! But don’t get all judgmental on me, neither are you! You wouldn’t like me if you were! So back off.
As I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m not exactly sure what I’d want but I do know I don’t want people to dress up for me. It’s a thing I’ve always hated about funerals – I hate the pressure of making sure you look appropriate. Miss Manners might frown at me, but y’all can wear jeans or pj pants to my funeral as long as your ass shows up! Now, if I’m 90 when I croak, it’s gonna look awfully funny to see all your old asses in fleecey candy kiss jammies but it would still beat the hell out of those elastic grandma pants pulled up to your boobs or the guys wearing old man suspenders that make them look like they have camel toe with their velcroed, white shoes! See, sometimes I have a good thought after all.
And you know what else? I’d be highly appreciative if somebody or some somebodies promised to make my hubs his sandwiches for lunch every day. A little chicken, cheese, ketchup and wheat bread won’t kill anybody (as long as you don’t have to eat it). He’s been good to me and I kinda want the best for him if I’m gone. Oh, and if I should die before I wake, let everybody eat cake… and by cake, I mean wedding cake from Wheatfield’s or brownie batter blizzards from Dairy Queen or Reese Brownie Royale from Summer Kitchen Café ‘cuz I’m pretty sure there’s no calorie-counting from heaven!