Different versions of this essay, about how I'd like my memorial service, have appeared in various publications, but I'm repeating it here--only to ensure that that nobody calls me a "wretched soul" (from the hymn "Amazing Grace." I never did like that line). Not that I'm planning on going anywhere soon, so you can ditch the panicked call to 911. Just consider this a proactive measure on my part and listen up pals:
THIS is how I'd like be remembered.
For starters, I want my greyhounds, Elvis and Lucy, at my service. They may be confused and a bit scared, wondering why their human has left them and they're suddenly living with someone else. But they must be at my service. If any one thing were to capture my essence, it would be found in the love I have for these dogs. Elvis and Lucy are as much a part of my family as blood relatives and close friends. They sit. And stay. In the row reserved for family.
I want people to laugh. Really. I hope my friends will muster the courage to stand up and tell funny stories about me because I will have died without tears and regrets. So I never married. Never had kids. Never had the corner office, wrote a best-seller or squeezed into a pair of size two jeans. Know what?
Don't care. Doesn't matter. I was happy. Content. Grateful to wake up each day healthy, in a warm bed, with a roof over my head, a job to sustain me and people who loved me.
Amidst carnations (take note: my favorite flower), I'd like my sister, Jennifer, to talk about that joke she played on me, the one where she convinced me that her house was haunted. Pam, my best friend, should 'fess up about us attending a Donny Osmond concert--uh, in our forties. Richard can share memories from our time at Dublin High ("it's all your fault!"), and Deb can laugh about that time in New Orleans when we feared we were being sold as middle-aged sex slaves.
Shared lives and experiences. In good times and bad, through grimaces and grins, we held each others' hands for strength and support. And laughed. Always, we laughed.
Music must be an integral part of my service. Friends may know me as an Elvis Costello fan(who do you think my dog is named for...that Presley dude?), but there are many songs I hold dear, mainly due to fond childhood memories.
Moon River by Andy Williams. Just about any sixties tune by Johnny Mathis or Herb Alpert. The instrumental Love is Blue by Paul Mauriat. Clair de Lune, because my father would play it on the piano and as a child I thought he had composed it. I remember hearing it on the radio one day and running to him in hysterics, screeching that someone had stolen his song.
I love the poignancy of God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. The optimistic Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head by B.J. Thomas, and the corny Everything is Beautiful by Ray Stevens. Since lyrics should be somewhat relevant, given the circumstances, this probably rules out Always Look at the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python. My friends can make that call.
Oh, but there is one song that must be played. Someone once quoted these lyrics to me, in an email response to an article I wrote about adopting Elvis. It's from the Beatles Abbey Road, incidentally my all-time favorite album. The song is titled, appropriately enough, "The End. " Just 28 words long, the last eight say it all. The same eight words I quoted just last week in my Valentine's Day post:
And in the end...
the love you take,
is equal to the love,
And with that final song, my service will be over. Held on a day I hope to dodge for many years to come.