Friday, September 6, 2013

Funeral Talk

funerals are a topic of discussion society in general avoids

The topic of funerals, or death in general, is something most of us would prefer to avoid either in conversation or in thought.  My dad's longest-term secretary is forced to think about it right now. Her husband is in what is believed to be the final stages of hospice care due to a mitochondrial degenerative disease. If he makes it through the night, he probably won't make it through tomorrow.

While he was still lucid,  which was not long ago, as this particular illness acts on the body while leaving the mind clear until the very end when the patient is basically comatose, the man told his wife where to find an envelope with information concerning his final wishes.  They'd discussed the topic at length, and she was surprised to hear that there was more he hadn't already told her.  When he slippped into a coma, she looked for the envelope. It was where he told her it would be. She opened it. It didn't contradict anything he had told her previously. It merely said he wanted no organ music at the funeral -- that piano was fine, guitar was good as well, but no organ -- and named a song he wanted at the funeral and another one that he wanted sung at his graveside.

The song he wants sung at his funeral is Paul Simon's "American Tune." I would assume he wanted to make a statement of some sort with this, as it's not particularly funereal. What he wants at his graveside is a little odd. He wants the Eagles' "Take It to the Limit."  No one who knows about this can figure out why he chose this particular song. It's certainly not funereal, and, as far as his wife knew, wasn't a particular favorite, although he liked classic rock and roll.  I've played stranger requests at funerals, the most bizarre of which was probably  "Funky Town," which makes "Take It to the Limit" seem like standard funeral fare.

The wife asked my dad to do those two songs at the funeral, in addition to "The Lord's Prayer," as the funeral service itself will be held in a church.  My dad can't say no to a woman who has been such a loyal employee and friend for twenty years -- longer, I supppose, as I think she worked for him before my parents lost their first twins.  My mom will handle the prelude on piano, and my dad will sing the three requested songs, although my mom would probably do a better job with "The Lord's Prayer."

It's somewhat unusual to discuss the funeral before the guy has passed, but his wife brought it up to my dad. He may take my pseudoaunt's younger brother along, as he likes the version of "American Tune" that Simon and Garfunkel did together better than Simon's solo version, and the Eagles always had harmony.

The funeral will presumably be late next week unless the guy unexpectedly lingers, and will be in the town in which my family formerly lived before our most recent move.  As the funeral will be well-attended and I personally did not know the man, I won't attend, nor will my brother.   It still seems odd to make arrangements, other than the pre-arrangements that a lot of people make for themselves far before the fact, before the man has passed, but perhaps it's easier this way for his wife. Maybe she thinks she won't be able to hold herself together well enough to make coherent decisions once her husband has made the official crossover. Regardless, far be it from me to judge her or any decision she makes.

                                This is Simon and Garfunkel together singing "American Tune. " The video is probably from the Concert in Central Park.

This blog is now ended.   Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord or whomever it is you serve.

1 comment:

  1. I recently had a somewhat disturbing talk with my mom about what will become of her and my father's bodies when they die. It was weird talking about it. As far as I know, neither of them is very close to death. But, I was actually very grateful she was telling me about it because when the time comes, we will know what their wishes are.

    The person who requested "Funky Town" must have had a hell of a sense of humor.