Funerals and other parties

I want my funeral to be a big party. After all, I’ll be 103 and I’m pretty sure people will have an easier time with that whole letting go process. My 50 year old blind lover will probably take it the hardest but he’s still young and quite fit so I don’t doubt he’ll find someone else in time. Hmmm, my daughters will be around 70 and their kids will be probably in their 40’s; he could go either direction. That’s kinda gross and a little twisted. Oh well, I’ll be dead, I won’t care.

A bunch of years ago I started planning my funeral party in my head. Just for fun. It revolved around music, food & laughter…and my body over there in the corner for viewing and making snarky comments. Even though I know I will be at my funeral party and probably affect some sort of shenanigans, it made me a little sad that it would just be my spirit. And family & friends that are older than me and a bunch that are younger will already have died.

Sidenote: I’ve had conversations with the funeral director in town and he said it’s never too early to start planning your funeral so if anyone thinks I’m weird for thinking about this, well, I’m not. I’m normal, dammit!

So anyway, when Gary and my 25th wedding anniversary was looming on the horizon my brain also became aware that I would be turning 50 that year (Yay for the Golden Year; break out the bottle of Goldschlager!). If these aren’t two huge reasons not to have a party, I don’t know what is! You may already be dead if you don’t agree. It was at that moment that a huge 3000 watt light bulb went on over my head. My world became crystal clear…I WAS going to be at my funeral party…in the flesh. It would be the perfect trial run (only with a live person, not a dead one…and probably a lot cheaper). We were going to celebrate with family & friends, right now, while we’re all alive!

The party took place and it was wicked good fun! It revolved around music, food & laughter and just like any big party you obsess about and take over a year to plan, it was over in the blink of an eye. The first half of the party celebrated our 25 years of marriage with a loosely-based ceremony & food. The music & dancing was all about me; my birthday gift to myself with family & friends. The funeral party trial run was a grand success and I haven’t done any funeral planning for myself since. I’m glad I was able to party with the people I love…in the flesh. I danced all night until I could barely walk. Good Times! I appreciate all the people who came to my ‘funeral party.’ Thank you!

Our daughters walked us up the ‘aisle’

Our ceremony was way more fun and a lot less serious this time. My sweet eldest sister officiated (she’s ordained on the Internet…how fun is that?!) and we had a ceremony for our girls and gave each of them a Tree of Life pendant

Happy 25th to us!

We started off the dance with an anniversary dance

And then…it was all about me!

Happy Father’s Day Dad…Olive You!

I paid my dad a visit today. I was going to make it official on Sunday but it was a beautifully sunny day so why wait for potential rain to muck things up. I brought him one of his favorite gifts…a jar of olives, the queen size olives! He loved eating olives but my mom always yelled at him if he ate the ones in the cupboard that were reserved for holidays, when guests came. I always thought that was a silly rule; same as the one where you don’t use ‘the good silverware & dishes’ for every day. So I broke the rule (I do that sometimes) and bought him big jars of queen size olives for any special occasion I could think of…and mom wasn’t allowed to have any control over them. He got pretty excited over having his own jar of olives. It didn’t take much to please my dad.
My dad was quite a talker and storyteller. It could be why I likewise have a tendency to talk a great deal. Today we were both pretty quiet. I toasted him with the jar of olives; a thank you for what a great job he did helping mom raise me. Then I silently ate olives while memories of my life with him ran through my head like a black & white filmstrip. The tears come with the understanding that there will be no more hugs & kisses, no more sharing our humor & stories, no more tender moments of dad’s love. It’s quite a conundrum, this sense of loss despite the feeling that he hasn’t left my side.

I watched the busyness of the ants for a while streaming across the fresh dirt and across my legs. I poured some of the olive juice over the grave and told dad I loved him and then I did what any self-respecting gardener would do…I picked the weeds out of the dirt. It’s all nice and tidy again waiting for the grass to grow back in. I’m not much of a grave visitor, I think everyone should be cremated, but maybe just for now, maybe Sunday, flowers would look nice on that little patch of dirt.

UPDATE: It’s the next day, Saturday the 15th, and #3 and I have gone shopping for supplies each of us need for our overseas adventures. We finally stopped for lunch; our stomachs had become quite unruly with their growliness. While we were waiting for our food the Kansas song Dust in the Wind started playing, to my surprised enjoyment. “Hi Dad, glad you could have lunch with us!” He loved going out to eat, always asking us to go along. “I’ll pick up the tab this time Dad. Thanks for coming along.”

Have passport…time to rock & roll!

With the prospect of 3 of my kids leaving the country for study abroad this summer in Mexico, Ireland, Germany & Spain; it became somewhat necessary that I ought to get a passport for myself. While at city hall last Fall, with #3 to apply for her passport, the elderly lady taking care of us highly recommended, “…at least one parent should also have a passport because, well, on the off chance you need to leave quickly to the country your child is in.” Mrs. Elderly Lady was trying to be discreet in her implication but we both knew what she was saying. “Lalalalalalalalalalalalala…I’ve been trying NOT to think about that scenario, thank you very much! How about rephrasing that into something a little more positive, like, “Hey! Now the 10-year passport clock is ticking for you to get your keester to Ireland!” My ancestors have been patiently calling to me since before I can remember, wondering when I’m coming back to the motherland.
So a month before #1 headed off to Mexico I finally applied for my passport; my initial baby step to Ireland.

The day after my Dad’s funeral I received my passport in the mail. How very appropriate, Dad. After all, I did tell him I was going to bring him to Ireland. But by the time he died my heart was numb and my life had changed in a weird discombobulated way. I had already formulated a list of why I wouldn’t be able to go. It was the customary list of ridiculousness that most people have in these scenarios. Enter…my guardian angels; they got the ball rolling again in my head. A couple close goddess friends of mine exchanged all the excuses I had created with reasons of why I had to make the trip. And then my niece entered the picture…

My niece sat across from me by the side of my Dad’s hospital bed when I announced my intentions on taking him to Ireland. The seed was planted and three weeks later she became the catalyst that propelled us to take the leap. She turned into a rabid lioness who stalked me day & night via e-mails, texts & phone calls with plans for going to Ireland. Meanwhile, my SweetPea was paying attention quietly in the background to the drama unfolding. Unbeknownst to him, he was an important key player in my final decision. We don’t tell each other what to do or not to do and that has worked out pretty slick in our many years of marriage. But if he had not been on board with all of this or had not been happy for me…it would’ve been a deal breaker. He’s still able to surprise me with how immeasurable his love is for me.

I’M GOING TO IRELAND!

I’m trying to contain myself by directing my energy on the every day stuff and the rites of passage my kids are making. I’m focused on #1 leaving for Mexico and returning safely home as #4 leaves for her own adventures in Ireland. The excitement of seeing her online pictures makes me a wee bit giddy of what’s to come. In three more weeks #3 heads to Spain and #4 will be in Germany; then the countdown begins for my trip of a lifetime. Not to be outdone, #2 will also be accompanying my niece and me to Ireland. It doesn’t seem real yet. So, along with the wait for my Dad’s death to finally hit home, I will be waiting for the excitement of Ireland to take hold. Somehow it feels like the two will be going hand in hand. And I smile inside at the bittersweet appropriateness of it all.