End of Life.......

Without being maudlin, when one gets to be 65, it is time to think about these things.   So, this is intended to be a running log that I am able to add to from time to time.  Hopefully, someone will find it when it becomes important.

I just attended “remembrance” service today (March 2005) for a colleague I worked with at Sperry years ago.   What struck me was the futility of the various hymns, prayers, homilies, and other superstitions somehow supposed to help the transition to heaven for the bereaved.  The only concretely meaningful part, at least to me, was the eulogies delivered by family and friends.  Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the reception and visits with the family.

Other connections I have to death and bereavement are various funerals I attended as a kid and funerals more recently including those of my parents. 

Years ago, I remember the prevailing custom included a “wake” for the departed.  Friends and relatives gathered at the home of the subject deceased where a sort of potluck party ensued in the kitchen along with a keg, maybe, or at least a fair amount of drinking and remembering.  The living room was reserved for viewing of the remains and, after the priest arrived, the rosary.

More recently, I remember, Mom and Dad’s funerals where a chapel visitation on a couple of evenings was followed by a funeral, burial and a sort of funeral meal in the church hall.  In both of my parent’s cases, the meaningful parts were the visitations and the after funeral meal.  The pomp and circumstance in the middle were way overplayed for the benefit of local superstitions.  I treasure the time we had with friends and relatives remembering and honoring the changes that these departed made in the lives around them be that humor, advice, or example.  I think this is the way things should be.

For my part, I would be most honored if my ashes could be spread over the tide waters off Mexico in the Gulf of California.  My Family knows exactly where so let’s just say, near the 38th parallel.  Prior to that, I hope some one will organize a wake in some location where whatever friends and relatives remain might have a good time.  How about some polkas and Jimmy Buffet for mood music – in-fact a dance floor would be appropriate.  I think some bar-b-que like pulled pork or braised beef ribs would be good.  And there should be a bunch of beer and wine.  I might have some home made stuff left over which would be good topics to start conversations.  The idea here is to have a party and forget the superstitions.

Of course, there may be some who need the religious crutch (Of getting over me – you have to be kidding!!).  Maybe the organizers could find a small dark closet off the main hall where various and appropriate paraphernalia could be arranged.  Such comfort items might include a rosary, bible (or Missal for Catholics), small crucifix, candles and incense.  A bottle of holy water might be useful to some however, a bit of vodka might be even more useful.  If we have evolved by then, a voodoo doll might fit in well.

Mostly, I would really like to limit the goofy religiosity that wants to creep into these ordeals.  My life has been full – I have no regrets – and regardless of your beliefs, attempts to change my future in any world are largely futile at this point.

Hasta la Vista Baby

Dave Brickner