Yesterday was Sharon Kamerath's funeral, and I must say it was about as perfect as a funeral can be. As daughter Heidi told me, the family had a long time to think about this one--a long (too long!) time to get it right. And they did. It was tender and funny, and (this would have been important to Sharon, I think), it didn't drag on too long.
Naturally, the whole thing got me thinking about my own funeral. There was a time when my desires were very specific, but now I don't care about it as much as I once did. Weird, I know, since I'm getting older. And actually it might have to be a "memorial" as opposed to a "funeral," because I vote for cremation these days. It's cheaper, for one thing. And there's something appealing to me about being turned into something that's almost as light as air. I have a strong appreciation for the intangible--words, light, grace, air.
I do realize, however, that it helps family members in their decision-making process about funerals/memorials to know what the deceased would have wanted. So, if pressed, here's what I would request.
1. Have all five of my boys speaks. BRIEFLY. I want the thing to be done inside of an hour. Everyone knows how much I hate meetings. Also, I want my boys to make people (especially their father if he outlasts me) laugh. I know they're up to it.
2. Have two musical numbers: Kelly Parkinson playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on her violin and Jared Wright singing "Danny Boy."
3. Have my two brothers say the prayers.
Also, I'd like the final speaker to end with this portion of a letter written to a friend by Fra Giovanni on Christmas Eve in 1513. (My thanks to the illustrator Tasha Tudor for introducing this to us all.)
I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present moment. Take Peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy!
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.