I find it amusing this week's Theme Thursday topic involves funerals, because it is only a few days after St Patrick's Day and if there's one thing the Irish know its how to celebrate their deceased. My mom's family has always taken a celebratory approach to funerals, with lots of pictures, lots of laughter, and a lot of joy in recalling the person who has gone.
We are also a family that likes to have their kids around at events, and that includes funerals. We have always taken the approach that their presence provides much needed levity, and a reminder of the continuity of life.
When I was young my parents introduced us to funerals by taking us to ones involving family members we didn't really know, feeling that would be less upsetting to us. With our own children we emphasised the social obligation of funerals, and that this was something we did not because someone had died, but because they had loved ones who would appreciate the presence of friends.
Taking kids to funerals can have its amusing aspects though. When the Boy was three his great grandfather died. We weren't sure how much he understood about what was going on, but providentially his pet lizard, Henry, had died a few weeks earlier, allowing him and his dad to have the what death means conversation as they buried him in the flower bed.
He behaved beautifully through the funeral and on the trip to the cemetery. When we arrived out there he surveyed the grave site and then turned to us with that look of enlightenment that preschoolers get and announced for all to hear, "Now I get it. We're going to put Papa under the sidewalk like we did Henry."
His sister's best funeral moment involved a friend of my parents. The kids had only met him a few times, but he had always generously remembered them at birthdays and Christmases, and I felt they should go with me to the calling hours. The Girl was sent to her room with instructions to dress nicely, and came down wearing a color known around our house as "Oh my God its Pink," She was then instructed to dress more respectably in a dress and nice shoes. Complimented at the calling hours on how she looked she announced that she was wearing her "respectable" clothes, leaving the impression that everything else she owned was more suitable for "Dress like your Bratz Doll Day."
But these early experiences have paid off in more recent years, as they have had to attend several funerals for closer family members, and for family members of their friends, and conducted themselves most appropriately.
Like most people, I have given some thought to the funeral I want someday. I always thought Janis Joplin had a great idea leaving money in her will for people to have a party after she was gone. Please have a party. Bring Bailey's and Irish Coffee. I decided long ago I wished to be cremated, both because I abhor the expense of caskets and embalming, and also because I think when on is gone one should really be given back to the earth, rather than a cement coffin liner. Plus I'm an organ donor and I expect them to take anything they can use. Therefore it shouldn't be difficult to have the memorial service outdoors, weather permitting (A big if in Ohio). Skip the flowers, I have a long list of charities I would rather see the money go to. Anyone who has seen my scrapbook collection knows there will be lots of pictures to look at. Everyone can stand around and say some nice things about me. I hope they laugh a lot. Read some of what I wrote. I have a play list planned of course, and although I haven't decided what I want to wear for the big journey, I want a Good Turn Coin in my pocket. I'm not sure where I'm going, but I'm sure there will be work to be done.