I am a Girl Guide from way back. Do you remember their & Scout’s motto? Well, I am preparing!
For the past two decades, I have jotted down notes in a file for my children and husband (if I predecease him) for my funeral arrangements. When I first mentioned it to them they were aghast, “Oh Mom …” Then Paupst humour kicked in: “Are you planning to leave soon?”
But the need for this came to me when I realized that since I no longer held my original Presbyterian beliefs, nor the Roman Catholic ones of my husband, that I would be denied the traditional church or chapel service, nor would I want it. So I began thinking of alternatives, ones that would have some meaning for my family that would, hopefully, be grieving my departure.
I realized that any ceremony would have family participation – because we always do major things as a family. It would have to have humour, since that is the most memorable and most cherished part of my life with my family. That would allow them to remember my foibles and eccentricities and there are many; my excesses – chocolate, breads, butter (all the healthy things they berate me for). It would HAVE TO have music. Music has always been my solace, my tranquilizer, my joy. My iTunes library has my favourite music that could be played non-stop for 3 or 4 days without a repeat – Nina Simone; ‘Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone’; Leonard Cohen; Chopin; Sissel – Lloyd Webber’s ‘Pie Jesu’ and Shubert’s Ave Maria; Beyonce – Ave Maria; The Priests – Ave Maria and Pie Jesu. (yea yea I am neither Catholic nor religious in any way, but I appreciate magnificent music!)
My Genealogy volumes should be present to represent a major life accomplishment. And flowers – to represent my childhood in my parents flower shop, greenhouses, nursery, and a continuing love for them throughout my life. A few, favourite pieces of my art would be nice to warm up the chosen venue and make me a presence there.
The written word, in poems or thoughts that have meaning for me and may provide comfort to some one or two of my family, would be important to be a part of any ceremony or memorial –
“That is part of the beauty of literature.
You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you are not lonely and isolated from anyone.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
– Mitch Albom: “Tuesdays With Morrie”
Some of my ‘words of wisdom’ I published in the early pages of each “Lineages & Memoirs”.
And … the recipe for my hereafter …
DON’T BURY ME IN THE GROUND
Don’t bury me in the ground
Toss me in the air
Throw me in the wind
Float me on a prayer
Don’t put me in a box
Let go and let me fly
I don’t want pretty daisies
I want the bright, blue sky
And when I fall, I’ll melt into
The gorgeous, deep, blue sea
Or maybe a wild, green river
Or maybe into a tree
I can sway and move with earth and sky
And heaven all around me
At long last I’ll be free
A part of all this bounty
From ash to ash, from dust to dust
Nearer my God to thee
Don’t bury me in the ground
Let me fly, peaceful and free
Copyright © 2013 by Mary Alexandra Stiefvater