The first funeral I attended was for my grandfather, Ernest Henry Carritt. I was six. I only have vague memories of the event. It was held in spring in Massachusetts. He was buried in the cemetery offered for those whose bodies have been donated to science and used by medical students, so his funeral was long after his actual death. We'd traveled as a family from Illinois to be there. My grandmother, his widow who was 28 years younger than him, and the five of us stood quietly at his graveside in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. I asked Nana if Granddad was in that box, and she kindly whispered back that he was.
I have attended only a few funerals, memorial services, celebrations of life, interments, cremations, and transitions to eternal happiness over the years since then. Each one, I assume, executing the wishes of the deceased.
Naturally, it brought to mind some of my own wishes. I have to assume that people will be sad when I die, will gather to scatter my ashes, and have some happy memories to share. I think that funerals are for the living--no matter what customs are observed-- to say goodbye to the dead. So, when it's time to say goodbye to me, here are a few of my wishes--
Food. Make sure there's lots of of it, and come hungry.
Laughter. An important facet of my life. Enjoy it when you're remembering me. Laugh hard enough to cry.
Spirits. Raise a glass.
Children. Embrace ours. They've made us unfailingly proud.
Regret. Acknowledge it; do not dwell on it.
Flowers. Do not spend money on any. Use that money to gather again at a fine restaurant and tip well.
Music Just a few selections. Sit quietly and listen, then play your own.
- Randy Newman's He Gives Us All His Love
- Blood Sweat and Tears' When I Die
- Owen Steel's Wake
The funeral we just attended was respectful; the eulogy was notably brief, describing our cousin as a simple man, who loved his family, enjoyed life, and laughed easily. We will remember him as laughing heartily, embracing his large family both literally and with an abundance of love, generosity and good humor. A fine legacy.
Rest in Peace Peter Chrysostom November 15, 1959-January 30, 2011
One child born in this world to carry on, to carry on. Tigh Robinson Woolsey born Feb. 3, 2011.