Don’t mock me but I’ve been planning my own funeral arrangements for a while now. It’s not necessarily a middle-age thing, you just do stuff like that when you get exposed to death at an early age; you hyper-focus on your own mortality. It’s not that I’ve become de-sensitized to death either, I just don’t want to get caught out, be without a voice to say what I really want, should the time come and I suddenly drop dead without warning.
After twenty years of marriage, I also have an acute understanding of my husband’s talents (and limitations), and party planning isn’t one of them. If I want some Woolies ‘entertaining platters’, mini pies, and cheap wine and Genesis, he’s the main man.
My funeral has to say something about who I was. I want it to be more of a celestial extravaganza, with a LMFAO vibe.
I honestly don’t think it’s being morbid, (and I know I refer to Brownie Wisdom quite often in my blog), it’s just ‘being prepared’.
I’ll admit freely that the symbolisation I’ve chosen to depict my life’s journey in my funeral arrangements has not emanated from some deep inner reflection, rather it’s been plaguerised from some fantastic movie funerals. And yes, I do realise that these films are purely fictional and some people might consider it unwise (bordering crass) to support my passing with what might be considered ‘tasteless frivolity’, but hey, it’s my party and I will, after all, be dead, so do you really expect me to care about the repercussions?
If I were pitching this funeral, I’d set the mood from the opening scene of ‘The Big Chill’ with ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. We’d then move swiftly into the surprise element, something like in Love Actually where the two best moments are, 1. when Keira (turn her sideways and you miss her) Knightley is getting married to the hot black guy and all their mates and token gospel singers orchestrate this awesome wedding march with their own version of ‘All You Need Is Love’, or 2. at the funeral where the friend/mum/wife chooses The Bay City Rollers ‘Bye Bye Baby’ accompanied by schmaltzy, tear rendering photos to say her final farewell. Sod the bratty love-struck kid or Hugh Grant’s dancing as PM, those were the ‘moments’, of joy, of pathos, the bits that get you in the back of the throat every time (although I do also get choked by Colin Firth too, who I have wanted to be physically chained to since I saw Pride and Prejudice).
Imagine a deserted beach. Sand strewn with flickering white paper lanterns, (think the Lilydale advert if you’re not visual), a tangerine sun setting in the background, guests in shades of white to make it really ethereal-like. Granted, the whole cremation thing might be a bit tricky in Sydney, with the limitations imposed by the local councils because of the risk of bush fires, but in reality that’s just semantics. A pyre would be nice, nothing too in-your-face, along the lines of Ghandi’s maybe or the funeral pyre in Game of Thrones, when the dragon eggs hatched – something fairly low-key.
The scene is set.
So here’s my order of service with stage directions:
White petals are thrown (local schoolchildren @ $10 per hour – does that qualify as child labour?); sand is also blown (irritatingly) by a north-easterly (which always bugger up any dusk beach celebration) and in the background, a local indigenous gospel group sings an A cappella version of :
Goodbye Michael Michelle It’s Hard to Die (Seasons In The Sun) – Terry Jacks
The congregation are seated and the old man comes to the front to generally extol my virtues. He mentions my ironing, spending and nagging prowess, the fact that I always tried in cooking, basically to remind himself everyone what a wonderful person I was, what I have left as my legacy.
He then looks out to sea and sings a rendition of:
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
The children join him at the front to pay their last respects too, and, accompanied by a harpist, they sing a special adagissimo version of:
Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead – The Fifth Estate
And if there is still a dry eye on the beach, there will follow a medley of songs by the great James Taylor to emancipate any tear ducts that might need a prod, during which time several vats of Scarborough Chardonnay will be served, chilled to perfection, (and the old man will refrain from commenting on the cost (how much?) or reminding the congregation to ‘not get too used to it as it is a treat’).
The combination of fine wine and the old man footing the bill will promote feelings of hope and optimism amongst my family and friends; it will be a true celebration of my life, and the whole congregation will come together for:
My Way – Frank Sinatra
There will be lots of hooliganesque fist-punching and singing at full throttle, joyfully, as Frank builds to his climax and finishes with ‘and did it my…….way!
And on that note it will be time for me to say goodbye, time for me to meet my maker and for the old man to find a younger model.
As the funeral pyre is set alight (assuming that the old man has remembered the BBQ lighters this time), the choir will burst forth with:
Light My Fire – The Doors
Life is, after all, about moments.