Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let's think about what's next

I've been giving a lot of thought to my funeral lately.

Let me guess what you think of that. “Man. How come I don't get to be in this guy's posse so we can do cool stuff like think about our funerals? All we ever do is discuss TV shows, movies, stuff like that. Why can't we be one of the cool ones?”

Well, maybe that's not exactly what you're thinking. But the truth is, we should all think about our funerals at some point, and not just right before we die, which I'm not close to doing (any closer than the average person, at least), by the way, in case you think that's what brought this on. First off, who says you would be able to have that kind of perfect timing. Besides, if you do it that way, there are no do-overs. If something doesn't feel quite right, chances are you aren't going to be in good enough health to make the change. Besides, not to work on it ahead of time just leaves the people you care about with the ridiculous burden to deal with all by themselves. That's no way to run a funeral or to show someone how much you love them!

Nah, the best time to work on your funeral is before you even get sick. I used to think about it before I got cancer, but if you're not sick, you can usually have a discussion with someone because... well, because the other person isn't going to feel the awkwardness that could come with discussing any aspect of dying with someone who is sick. Like me, for example.

But when all is said and done, we're probably just as unlikely to discuss the funeral as we are writing out our wills. Typically, even if we are willing to make out a will, we wait until we think the Grim Reaper is using Google Earth to find our house so that he's ready when the time comes.

In many ways, making out a will is a lot like talking about dying. We know we should have a will, and we know we could die at any minute, but talking about them, let alone doing something about at least getting a will, seems to be way too difficult.

But, since I haven't been giving a lot of thought to my will, probably because I already have one, let's get back to thinking about our funerals.

If you would rather not, and want to skip this week's column, of course you should. That's a standing offer as many of you know. Yes, you will miss some pithy observations about life in general, and, in this case, about funeral planning, but you shouldn't make yourself uncomfortable.

Now, if you're still with me, let me guess one of the things you'll be thinking next: This is all about control issues and my ego. Well, that's not true... Well, actually that is exactly true but it seems cruel to be having such thoughts about someone who is, after all, planning their funeral.

It is about control and ego. I want my funeral to be like my life- well orchestrated, with moments of drama, romance and plenty of laughs, all keyed by the music that is played. Now that I reread that sentence, this may be even more about ego than I initially thought.

Cut me some slack, why don't you. Who is going to be able to detail my life better than me? Or in your case, you?
Attendance concerns me. I did actually make Sheri promise to come and bring a date. I think she agreed. She did mutter something about how stupid it was and what was wrong with me and what on earth made me think of idiotic things like that. So, that sounded like a yes to me.

In recent years, especially since I found out about having cancer, I've made a conscious effort to become beloved by the little people who have been such an important part of my life. You're welcome, and I hoped it worked. Bring a date.

As far as mood, I admit to being somewhat torn. Of course, there should be tears, but not too many. Likewise, laughs would be essential, but let's not forget why we're there people.

For me, music is the key. It is an important part of the relationship Sheri and I have, but playing “Camel Walk,” by Southern Culture on the Skids might be a bit much for casual attendees. I know for sure we'll have “Turn, Turn, Turn,” by the Byrds, because that has been on my list since I first heard it 50 years ago. I have been putting tunes I'm considering together in a playlist. Hey, do you think a commemorative CD would be too much?

Oy. Sometimes I really astonish myself with some of the things I'm willing to put in writing to be read and dissected by thousands of people. This whole topic should probably be off-putting, but I don't find it so. Maybe it's because I know what I have floating around in my head that I don't write about. Some of that stuff would be off-putting, believe me.

Anyway, don't worry that I'm turning morbid or anything. Au contraire. In three or four weeks we will mark the end of our second year with cancer. I'm still here and Sheri is still doing really well in handling all of the stuff that goes with having someone you love suffer from cancer. Still, questions remain. Like for now, I'm obsessing over whether we should us the long or short version of “In a Gadda Da Vida.”

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere