NotHideousGirl and I spent an inordinate time, at lunch today, discussing funerals and funeral parlors.
This is probably my fault. I broached the subject by mentioning that I was going to visitation for a former coworker of mine.
I may have started the discussion, but NotHideousGirl is the one who took it and ran with it. So for about an hour we talked about these happy subjects. I tried a couple of times to talk about something else, such as how weird and/or cute her hair was today, but she'd have none of that.
At one point we played the fun little game of counting how many times we'd been to funeral homes. Maybe you can use this the next time you host a kids' birthday party. Here's my list:
My paternal great-grandfather
My maternal grandfather
My friend Gary from Omaha
My paternal grandfather
My maternal grandmother
My aunt Carol's sister (visitation only)
My aunt Helen (visitation only)
My former coworker Scott (visitation only)
Not too bad of a list, for someone my age. NotHideousGirl used the word "dozens" as she counted. So she won that game.
But there have also been some who've died and I didn't make it to the funeral home:
My girlfriend Jackie
My maternal grandfather
My cousin Chris
My uncle Tommy
My aunt Elaine
My parents' friend Marie
And probably some others, of varying degrees of closeness.
The point I was going to make here is that for the ten people listed first, my last memory of each and every one of them is of them lying in their caskets. And, for the six people in the second list? My last memory of them is when they were alive, talking, laughing, smiling.
I, personally, very much prefer the latter choice.
I don't like the fact that I cannot think of my mother without my brain fast-forwarding to the sight of her dead in the funeral home, with her hair done all weird and wearing makeup and a dress I'd never seen before.
My last memory of my cousin Chris was the two of us sitting in his kitchen, catching up on old times. Laughing and bullshitting about how absurd our lives had become. How grown-up the world expected us to be, when all we wanted to do was go hiking and climbing trees in the woods.
Yes, I definitely prefer the latter choice.
I've thought about this before, and I think that I've even talked with at least one of my sisters about it. The thing is, I don't want an open casket funeral. I don't want that to be the last time people see me. I'd rather just have pictures posted around the place, and maybe some home movies playing. Stuff like that.
Not my corpse, in a suit, in a box.
NotHideousGirl tells me that I'm weird. And I probably am. But this would probably count as my last wish, right?
Cremate me. Scatter my ashes somewhere pretty. And let the sound of my voice and my laugh, let them be part of your last memory of me.