My brother’s wedding is in ten days. So today, my father and I went to our favorite spot to pick up the favors, Eaton Chocolates. (like them here: http://www.facebook.com/EatonCHOCOLATE)
Anyways, we’re talking about your normal father-daughter stuff, self-defense and guns, when I bring up the topic again. What kind of services does he want when he passes away? My mother is easy, after a memorial service she wants to be cremated. My father on the other hand, he has never seriously said what he wants. He did tell me that he would really enjoy me taking his remains with me whenever I go on a trip, so one can assume he wants cremation, however with my father you can never be totally sure. But straight out say, “Lauren, bury/cremate me”, nope that never happened.
My father has a really funny sense of humor. And he’s actually the best father ever, but I hate bragging. I think it comes easy to him, though, because I had the best grandfather ever. Everyday my father becomes more and more like my grandfather, and although I joke with him about it I mean it as the highest compliment. You see, my grandfather would do anything for his grandchildren, which consisted of myself and my brother. So we were a little spoiled. And I took him for granted. It’s just hard to imagine your life without a man who has always been in it. And do you know what? In November it will be ten years since my grandfather passed away. It still seems like it was just yesterday.
Now there are some differences between the these two men. First, my grandfather was never seen without a beer in his hand and a cigarette in the other. Seriously. The other difference is that my grandfather knew exactly what he wanted to have done when he passed away. He did come from a different generation, though. In his day, you’d have at least a two day wake, a Mass of Christian Burial and be buried in your local Polish cemetery. A no brainer, really. But today, there are so many different options with cremation it can make the whole decision making process overwhelming.
I think the hardest part is that my father can’t grasp the concept that I’m asking about HIS funeral. My great aunt’s embalmer for her funeral home is named Al, and once I was with my dad and Al made a comment about how he’s now “on deck” (note the funeral director humor in the language). How all of his grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles are all passed away. How he’s now the old generation in his family, therefore technically, the next one who will pass away if all you were counting was age. Well, that’s kind of my dad’s situation. And although I don’t consider him old in any way, shape or form, that’s a scary concept.
No one likes to talk about their own demise. I’m a rarity. I have no problem talking about my death. I’m actually fairly convinced that I’m going to die from cancer or Alzheimer’s. Cancer because there’s family history plus I come into contact with chemicals on a fairly daily basis. Alzheimer’s because I wear a lot of deodorant which has aluminum in it. When I told this to my boyfriend’s mom she told me to “not talk like that.” I don’t understand what the big deal was. I have to die of something after all. And yes, I’d rather have it be cardiac arrest or respiratory failure while I’m asleep but I’m also looking at my lifestyle. Maybe it’s also easy for me to talk about death because I am (hopefully) very far away from it. I should have more years in front of me than I have behind me. Maybe my perspective will change the older I get. Maybe not.
I’m not giving my dad a shovel and telling him to dig his own grave. I’m just asking him to let me know what his wishes are. I want to be able to honor him the way he deserves and wants when the time comes. I know it’s a scary subject, but I believe it’s easier to talk about when the event is a long ways in the distance. It get’s harder to acknowledge our mortality when our time is running up. That’s denial for you. I want my father to tell me he wants to be buried, and then continue to talk to me about different calibers for guns. Guidance. So when the time does come, I can talk with the funeral director about the crazy man my father was and know in my heart, this is what he would have wanted me to do.
So maybe today will be the day you sit down and make up your mind. Maybe today will be the day that you realize you’re not infinite and you have a very finite amount of time. Maybe today you’ll talk with your kids. Maybe today you’ll tell your daughter, “You know Hun, I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, but if something were to happen, I’d like to be buried.” Acknowledge you’re going to die. Make a plan. Come talk to me when you want to make some arrangements. Then, get out there and live. Oh, and kids, remember, hug your parents. Thanks.