During the summer, my father passed away. My father’s funeral was very beautiful and dignified. But I was disappointed. I don’t think it captured my father’s quirky personality. Don’t get me wrong. Everything went perfect. Everyone was moved. It just seemed more for the guests than my father.
After someone dies, everything is very chaotic. There’s people to call. Arrangements to make. The person who died can get lost in the shuffle.
Jewish comedians always make fun of bar mitzvahs, saying that American kids treat them like jokes. Kids make elaborate parties for their bar mitzvahs, some with crass themes, like baseball teams or Star Trek. I used to mock these parties myself, but my view is changing. At least these kids throw a party that reflects themselves. Why are funerals always so drab. Why aren’t there any funerals with exotic themes?
I know this sounds a bit tasteless. But my father loved the movie "Lawrence of Arabia." Wouldn’t it be have been cool to have decorated the funeral home like a Arab sheik’s home? Or an oasis in the Sahara desert? I’m sure many of the guests would find it tacky and uncomfortable. But who cares? My father would have loved it!
In the Jewish religion, you don’t put up the stone until a year after the death. Today, my mother called me at home:
"On the way home from work, I bought your father’s stone."
"You did? It’s only been five months."
"Well, I was in Flushing and I was passing the store.
"You never can wait, can you?
"It’s going to be a very nice one. "Kramer" in the middle, and then, "Devoted husband, father, and brother.""
"What do you want it to say?"
"I don’t know. It’s just so… bleh. It’s like me writing a post that says "Have a Nice Day.""
"We’re not talking about your blodge on the computer. We’re talking about a stone in a cemetery."
"How about at least, "Devoted husband, excellent father, and really cool brother?" I think we can up up with something better for Dad."
"You’re the writer. You think about it."
I met Sophia at the Coffee Bean. We sat down to think. Within thirty seconds, we came up with the exact same solution:
"Be of Good Cheer!"
Be of Good Cheer. For some reason, my father always ended every phone conversation with that bizarre saying. I have no idea where he got it from. I’ve never heard anyone else say it. It also sounded very 19th Century, like something Sherlock Holmes might say to Dr. Watson. Maybe my father first heard it in an old movie as a child.
Arthur Kramer, devoted husband, father, and brother. Be of Good Cheer.
So far, we haven’t sold the idea to my mother.
I know this is a depressing thought, but should we all start thinking about our funerals? Do you want a traditional ceremony? Or something exotic? Do you care what is written on your stone? Would you like a certain song to be played?
I always liked "American Pie" from Don McLean:
They were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die."