I have reached the point in life where I find myself attending funerals on a somewhat regular basis. Lest there be any doubt, let me assure you: I do not want to go to funerals. I do not want to see my friends at funerals. I don’t want to see my enemies at funerals, even if it’s their funeral. And I certainly don’t want to be at my own funeral! Still, not wanting to be there is no excuse for not showing support for our friends and loved ones; you go just because it’s the right thing to do.
Last summer I attended a service for a friend from high school, Donnie. He was the guy that knew everybody, and everyone knew and liked him. He was always funny but never mean-spirited, and always happy, you would even say joyful. He was not able to attend our high school reunion, and everyone missed and asked about him. He passed just a couple of weeks later, so less than a month after the reunion a group of us found ourselves at his funeral. And what a funeral it was!
My first mistake that day was sitting next to Melinda. We went to church together for years, our parents were good friends, and I’ve known her, well, forever. Unfortunately, our sense of humor and lack of decorum usually get out of control when we sit together, so we found ourselves giggling at the funeral as memories of Donnie were shared until our friend Connie gave us “the look”. As the service continued we sang a couple of his favorite hymns, and after a time we were able to stand and share memories of Donnie. One was especially descriptive: Donnie would always offer to help bake cookies, but usually that meant he only wanted to be there to eat them…! Towards the close of the service they played a recording of his favorite song: Donna Summer’s “Last Dance”! Very 70’s. Donnie loved to dance, and that kind of put it over the top for me: we cried, we laughed, and we celebrated a life that ended far too soon.
Some people don’t want to contemplate their own funeral, but that doesn’t bother me all that much… as long as it is at least 30 or 40 years away! What tone do I want set at my funeral? Hmmm… I would prefer for it to be more like Donnie’s funeral, if I get a say in the matter. Oh, sure, there can be a couple of women there crying, and an emphasis on the eternal direction we get to choose, but I would like for the silly stories to be told, too. Music at my own funeral: Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace. Lyle Lovett’s “Church”, or as I know it, “I Went to Church Last Sunday”, followed by “Don’t Cry a Tear”. There might even be a recording of me playing guitar…hey, it’s my funeral, and I’ll play if I want to! I may even have to put together a playlist for the wake. I’m hoping the pictures posted at the wake include one of me fly fishing, and another one of me and my favorite guitar, and of course, photos with my wife and children. And if someone doesn’t lift a toast for me, I will be upset! Besides, I don’t plan for the real crying to start until the will is read…