Last September, I wrote about how I’d like to be remembered when I posted The Leaving of Memories. In that post, I focused on how I would like to be remembered, and I briefly mentioned my funeral instructions to my daughters. At least one of them is very literal and really needs those instructions in writing. Being too cheap to pay an attorney, I am writing this post in lieu of writing a will.
My daughters have firm instructions to make sure the visitation, and even the funeral, feels like a party. I want my casket closed, but they need to be sure to line the edges with shots of good whiskey. I realize not everyone appreciates good whiskey, so there should also be bottles of nice wine available at each end for those who can’t handle shots of whiskey. In life, I’ve always preferred fruity red wines, but once again I’ll be considerate of others and let them choose a nice white for those who prefer it. Under NO circumstances whatsoever will any rose’ wines be allowed within a mile of my funeral.
It has become a tradition for families to have a loop of pictures of the deceased playing on a screen during funeral and memorial services. This is definitely not for me. I have always hated having my picture taken, so I promise to come back and haunt anyone who puts bad pictures of me up on a screen for everyone to gawk at.
i am quite interested in having music played at my services. If my life were to have a sound track, I’m afraid much of it would sound like the sound track to the Benny Hill show. However, if I were in the position to choose my own soundtrack, the songs below would be a constant loop of inspiration to be played over and over during any get-together in my honor.
Let Me Fall (From Cirque Du Soleil) – Was written by James Corcoran, and Benoît Jutras. The original version was performed by Josh Groban and this song has always brought me to a complete halt when it plays.
In the days when I was participating in triathlons, I had a great fear of the downhills when I was riding my bike. I was always sure that the day would come when I would hit a random pebble in the road and go flying off the bike. The words from “Let me Fall,” always gave me strength and courage to speed down the hill with my eyes and my heart open.
Ave Maria – The Ave Maria is a Christmas classic that I have always loved. Every time I hear it I feel awed and inspired. My first and favorite version of this song by Schubert was sung by Risé Stevens, a mezzo-soprano for the Metropolitan Opera, in the Bing Crosby classic “Going My Way.” Every time I hear the song, I can picture her singing it to the choir boys in the movie.
La Vie En Rose – “La Vie en Rose” was the signature song of French cabaret singer Édith Piaf. With the words of the song written by Edith Piaf, the lyrics tell the story of retaken love and it especially appealed to those who had survived the difficult wartime in France.
On one of my visits to see a friend’s mother in hospice a few years ago, my friend spoke of his regret over not having any Edith Piaf recordings to play for her. She had been a French World War II war bride and loved listening to French music. Fortunately, I was able to pull out my phone, go to Pandora and plug in Edith Piaf as a channel. The music helped soothe her and has since become some of my favorite music. “La Vie en Rose” speaks to people today just as poignantly as it did back in the 40’s.
Let There Be Pace On Earth (The Angel Choir) – This song was written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller. Jackson, who had been suicidal after the failure of a marriage, later said that she wrote the song after discovering what she called the “life-saving joy of God’s peace and unconditional love.”
The church I attend closes services every weekend with a gender neutral version of this song. Everyone in attendance joins hands and sways back and forth while singing it. There are not words that give justice to the sheer joy that rises up from the congregation as everyone sings loudly, smiling and laughing throughout the entire song. If you’ve ever seen the animated version of Dr Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” then the scene where all the Who’s in Whoville join hands and sing will give you an idea of the essence of the singing of this song each week.
Amazing Grace (LeeAnn Rimes version) – This is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. I learned this song in 7th grade and I think I’ve gotten goose-bumps every single time I’ve heard it since.
How Great Thou Art Who knew I liked so many hymns? This one is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg in Sweden. “How Great Thou Art” was ranked second (after “Amazing Grace”) on a list of the favorite hymns of all time in a survey by Today’s Christian magazine in 2001.
Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill performed this stirring version of it that I’ve watched over and over and over again. I dare you to listen to it and not have a tear come to your eye.
Hallelujiah – Written by Canadian recording artist Leonard Cohen, this was originally released on his album Various Positions (1984). Originally, it achieved little success, but the song found greater popular acclaim through cover versions released by other artists, to date there are over 300 versions. The attached version sung by KD Lang is my all-time favorite.
Moonlight Sonata – The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, is a piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. This piece is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for the piano, and it was a popular favorite even in his own day. I’ve spent many an evening falling asleep to this song, which is also a favorite of my yoga students.
I hope no one minds that I’ve chosen to leave my last will and testament in this form. I want there to be songs, stories, and laughter at any and all services for me. Loud laughter will be not only encouraged, but required. If you’re not prepared to come to laugh, please do not come. Long after the formalities are over, I want everyone to remember laughter and joy when they think of me, even if they also feel saddened by my absence.