Saturday, April 7, 2012

Endings, Beginnings...and Saying Goodbye

Tomorrow is Easter. A reminder that Christ died for us and was resurrected, that physical death is not the end but a new beginning. Still, we mourn those we lose. Even knowing we'll see them again one day, we miss them now.






Last weekend, a very dear member of my church family passed away. Kathy was a lovely, delightful, vibrant woman who had struggled with health issues for some time. She hadn't been to church in months due to concerns about having to use an oxygen tank. Though I hadn't seen her in a while, I find myself missing her deeply now that she's left us.


Today is her memorial service, and I find myself in a difficult position. On one hand, I feel it's right to be there, to pay my respects to her and her grieving husband, Robert. On the other, this is not how I want to remember her. I want to remember her the way she looked and talked the last time I saw her. That's a selfish attitude, I know. I hate funerals. I've been to one in fourteen years, and that was for the son of a longtime friend. I'd known the young man since he was a baby, and seeing him in the casket was unsettling. I kept picturing him as a toddler, wondering how this could have happened to someone so young. Yesterday, I saw a young couple in the courtyard, blowing bubbles with their two toddlers. One of the little ones looked just like Jeff had at that age. He was such a cutie....


My parents' funerals were hard on Collin and me. Collin was almost twelve when my dad passed away. Seeing him at the funeral parlor, Mom and I agreed he should not attend the graveside service. Collin is not one to express what's he's feeling. He keeps most of it locked up inside. I wish he would be more open, for his own good. 


Some people who showed up at Dad's funeral surprised me. Neighborhood kids he'd terrorized came to say goodbye--I think they actually meant it! They were going to miss him! Most of them grew up to be decent young men. Dad, of course, would have said they turned out well because he'd been so hard to them. It couldn't possibly be their parents' efforts....


Mom's funeral was a disaster. There was nearly a confrontation between me and an unwanted "mourner"--a cousin I knew couldn't care less about my mother. She was only there to attach herself (as usual) to my mother's eldest sister. For some reason, most of the family treated Queen Bertha like she was God. (Not even close!)


Then there were the so-called family members who showed up asking if Mom had by any chance left them any insurance inheritance. This funeral was mostly people who hadn't been there for her when she was alive and needed them, but had the nerve to show up to pretend they cared that she was gone. I wanted to throw the lot of them out!


I told Collin I don't want a funeral. When Dad died, I bought four burial plots. He and Mom now occupy two of them. I have no intention of taking up residence in one of the other two. I want to to be cremated, like Sam. I don't want a memorial service.  I want Collin to take the people I'm closest to to a decent restaurant (as I recall, Chuck E. Cheese has a party room) and give me a roast. 






Yep, you read that right. A roast--like the old Friar's Club celebrity roasts, where friends and family get up and make jokes about the honoree. I like the Comedy Central roasts too, but the roasters there are, for the most part, just the same group of stand-up comics for every roast,  who didn't really know the roastee. If I'm going to be insulted, I want to be insulted by people who actually have ammunition.






Take your best shots, guys. It will be the only time I won't be able to shoot back!



20 comments:

  1. My grandmother was never one to go to funerals. She found it too difficult. For some people, it's too much.

    It's been quite awhile since I've been to one myself. I think I rather prefer the manner of a good Irish wake.

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    1. I agree. I wish my parents had been cremated. Dad was willing, but Mom wasn't.

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  2. It's something we all struggle with and it seems to happen more frequently as we age. My husband and I opted for cremation. My daughter and son may or may not have a memorial service at church for me (that means no coffin) just a celebration that we are truly alive in Christ. The choice will be up to them. I really won't care will I? Last year I attended so many that I refused to go for the last three. At least we didn't have the petty wrangling at my parents funerals. Blessings.

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    1. I wish I could have gotten by without even telling my mom's family that she was gone. I was disgusted by the whole thing. But except for the cousin, she would have wanted those idiots there. Go figure.

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  3. I rather feel much like you.

    My baby daughter was cremated and we sprinkled her ashes at a beautiful point on the Pacific Ocean that I could see from my home in Laguna Beach.

    Although I don't like the the idea of fire I am rather claustrophobic and don't like the idea of being buried. I vote for cremation too. I want to be sprinkled were Nicole was so we can be together.

    No service either but I want who ever is around to go have a lovely dinner with lots of wine and a fabulous dessert !
    After all what is a get together with out some great food !

    All I'm saying, if it was good enough for the Vikings...

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. I'm claustrophobic too, Parsnip. I hate crowds and anything restrictive. In short, I'm a mess!

      I once told Collin to spread my ashes at Borders (they were still in business at the time). He said, "Sure--and there'll be some guy with a vacuum behind me, sucking you up...."

      We had my bird, Sam, cremated. Oddly enough, I feel better having him here with us.

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    2. I had my Scotty Kirby cremated and I have her ashes in a sliver silk box with a charm on my shelve. I feel better too !
      Love the Collin comment.
      Sorry about your family and your Mum. The older I get the less I understand people.

      cheers, parsnip

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  4. Thirty or forty years from now? Sure if we remember.:)

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    1. Thirty or forty years? Ha! I wish I had that long!

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  5. Sorry for your loss, Norma...

    As for myself, I don't really fathom being buried, but I don't want to sit on someone's mantle either. Scatter my ashes somewhere lovely, or at my favourite spot. I don't relish the thoughts of bugs and worms in my casket.

    Still, a funeral gives you closure. When my dad died, they closed the curtain so that we wouldn't see the lid of the casket going down. Now I wish I'd seen it.

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    1. I think that's why the tradition has survived so long. Closure. In Japan, cremation is the norm.

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  6. I also want to be cremated, for the same reasons others above said. Funerals are also difficult for many of the reasons you wrote about. But I've always liked the idea of an Irish Wake prior to whatever happens.

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    1. Visitation used to go on for two or three days. That was really hard on families. I want my ending to be as easy on Collin as possible.

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  7. My editor and friend, who died Thursday suddenly had wishes of being cremated and no memorial service. Monday is our critique meeting. I think it will be more of a memorial to her from the group.

    And, I just want a pine box and a party for everyone else to go to.

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    1. Your editor died? I'm so sorry, Shelly.

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  8. ((((((((((Norma))))))))) (((Hugs))) for you and Collin. I didn't know Kathy passed away. No one told me, and if it is the same Kathy I'd gotten to meet while there in St. Louis, MO, then I will miss her, as well. You and Collin hadn't told me in text, nor in e-mail, about that she died. Feel for you, Collin, and for Robert, about this, truly. And hon, whatever you and Collin want as far as the end of life situations whenever they eventually happen, I respect and understand. I, too, would rather be cremated than buried, wityh my ashes spread across mountainside, or across the ocean, at least.

    Shelly,
    You editor died? Oh, that bites, too. Feel for you about this, as well.

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    1. April--we know more than one Kathy. You may be thinking of Kathie who came to our house while you were staying with us. The Kathy who passed away was from church--I can't recall if you ever met her there--she was petite, short blond hair, almost always smiling....

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  9. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'd rather have friend now than mourners later. Being somewhat practical, I don't want to burden my family with funeral costs - so I'm opting for cremation and scattering my ashes. It's seems so much more natural than being buried.

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    1. Karla, I couldn't agree with you more! I haven't scattered Sam's ashes, but that's pure selfishness on my part. He always wanted to be here with us, and so I tell myself he's where he wants to be.

      The truth is, he's where I want him to be...almost. I'd rather have him alive, but since I can't have that....

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  10. I'm going to be cremated. The idea of hair and nails growing in the earth horrifies me.
    The roast sounds a good idea with - I hope - lots of laughter.

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