Monday, February 13, 2012


I went to two funerals last week. Two men. One was 89 years old. He lived as long as might be expected. The other was 58. He died young. Very different ceremonies. One officiated by a rabbi, with lots of Hebrew and religious and cultural references. The other emceed by a friend, with absolutely no mention of God or religion. Instead, Dylan songs sung to a live guitar. Two grieving families, remembering the good things and laughing at the deceased's quirks.

I may have met the older man many years ago. He was the father of a boyhood friend. Friends' fathers weren't part of the picture much back then. They worked a lot, and they didn't bake cookies so they didn't get the attention that friends' moms did.

The younger man whose funeral I attended was an acquaintance of mine. We had worked on some campaigns together. He was a good guy. I liked him, and I appreciated what he had done.

I don't seek out funerals to go to, but when I attend one, I get a lot out of it. Every life has a story. Every person has someone to remember and miss them, or did at some point.

No one ever gets the chance to enjoy his own funeral. It's a shame. I think people would like hearing what others say about them. I think it would inspire people to treat other people better if they heard that the kindnesses they did in their lifetimes are what their survivors remember and cherish. Seldom does a eulogy emphasize how much money a person made, although I have heard it.

I'm probably not the only person who leaves funerals wondering what people will say about me when my time comes. I'm counting on my friends and relatives having imperfect memories, or at least to keep their mouths shut about things best forgotten.

None of us knows when our time will come. I'm trying to prepare, though certainly not looking forward to the eventuality. I'd like a little warning. I'd like a little time to tidy up and say goodbye. I suppose that in one sense we all have plenty of warning. We know what is coming.

Life is so precious. So fragile.

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