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February 20, 2009

Plan Your Funeral

Plan Your Funeral


By Kathy Sweeney

Try not to get morbid - hear me out.  We've all been to funerals, so we know there are all kinds.  Yesterday, I went to a special one.  It was wonderful - and not just because of grand life of the recently ascended.

Her name is Dorothy Lewis-Kistler.  Everyone called her Dodo, or Dodes.  Her nearly two-year battle with cancer ended on Valentine's Day.  Make no mistake, she fought valiantly, with great courage and strength. But in the end, her adversary was more powerful than her earthly valor.  I like to think when that time came, Dodes called for the big guns.  I can almost see Michael and Gabriel, the Archangels, coming to take her Home, and kicking cancer's ass while they were at it.  Dodes is a woman of great faith, so in the end, she was victorious, even though her triumph took her from our sight.

Blog Tall ship Her sister spoke yesterday, and it was one of the most beautiful ways I've heard it explained.  Our loved ones are like the mighty Tall Ships - setting out, opening sails into the ocean's wind.  As the ship gets further from us, it appears to get smaller, but that's just our perspective.  She is really just as majestic as always.  And as we wave from our shore, shouting our good-bye's and waving until the tallest mast disappears over the horizon, we call: "There she goes!".  But before those last echoes return to us, the call is taken up on the other shore, as they point and shout and wave with great joy: "There she is - she's coming home!"  

Isn't that some wonderful imagery?  Trust our friend not to be satisfied with that - after the bible readings, Dodes herself appeared on a screen and began to talk as if she had just entered the room.  "You didn't think", she smiled, "that I'd pass up a chance to speak to a crowd like this, did you?"  She went on to talk about all the great blessings of her life, and how the end of her journey was made so much better with the love and support of her family and friends.

By the looks of her in the video, she had to have made it last fall, probably before Thanksgiving.  She was perfectly composed, and perfectly her funny, loving, smartass self.  I use the word smartass because one of the things I loved most about her is the fact that, although she is a very religious person, she still swears like a sailor.  She was a person who made people laugh.  Many will repeat the story I tell of our meeting, because their experience was the same with Dodes - within moments, I knew we would be friends.  She was a take-charge kind of person - a former elementary school teacher and an amateur actress.  She had a great voice, a great laugh, and a wit that could cut steel.

She told me last fall that she was planning her own funeral.  I laughed and teased her about control issues. Then I asked her if she needed musical selections from "Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs", which led to more fits of laughter.  Laughter takes energy - did you know that?  The closer we got to the end, the more easily tired she became, so the laughs became fewer.  We made them count.

Although there were lots and lots of tears at her funeral, there were also lots of laughs - big, hearty, joyous laughs.  I can almost here her say: "No shit - I planned it."

So consider this - what would you say at your funeral?  What songs would you choose? She chose "On Eagle's Wings" (Michael Crawford), "Amazing Grace" (a trumpet solo) and as her final song, "God of Wonders" - a contemporary song (my favorite is Third Day).  I'm listening to them now.

And what would you have people say about you?  You can't script that part - you have to live it.

As for me, I need to find a church that does cowbell.  Hah.  Just in case you miss my final appearance on earth - here is what I want you to know: I love you.  You make my life fuller and brighter.  You make me laugh and think and appreciate.  And I'm talking to all of you - even the friends I've never met. So I've got that goin' for me, which is nice.

Your turn.

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Comments

I don't want a funeral, I just want people to come together for a little food, a little drink or three, and lots of laughter. I'm trying to get my husband to promise to tell my favorite Thanksgiving joke and anytime joke, but he's balking. (Could it be because he's heard each one at least a 1000 times? I still laugh at them!)

As for music, a little Frank will do nicely.

Amen, my dears..and..God speed

You are all in our thoughts and prayers!

Since I'll be cremated and scattered about my beloved Northern California, there will be no funeral. Since I'm an agnostic, there will be no religious aspect, either.

But since I'm Irish, Scottish and Portuguese, there will be just a hell of a memorial service:) I expect everyone to drink and tell stories about me, true or not. If the party is really good, at some point, the police will be called to bust it up.

As for music, I have a rather long playlist in mind, But "Bad To The Bone" by George Thorogood, "Sympathy For The Devil" by the Rolling Stones, "Kashmir", "Rock & Roll" and "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin, "Rosalita" by Bruce Springsteen, "Roll Over Beethoven" by The Electric Light Orchestra and "I'm Going Home" by Ten Years After (from the Woodstock soundtrack) MUST be played.

What a wonderful tribute, Kathy. I'm very sorry for your loss but grateful that you were able to appreciate and enjoy such a wonderful friendship.

I've told DH, body bag and burn me. Don't you dare spend any more than you have to, to do that. In lieu of funeral services I told him to take my dear Aunties, cousins, and our friends to a favorite rowdy Irish pub. I want them to have a wild and happy time, get drunk, dance and sing.

Wonderful!

I knew the great people here would come up with some terrific answers.

I'm going to be cremated too - after every possible organ and part is used for someone who might need them. I'm pretty sure someone, perhaps someone who reads TLC, will want to take a look at my brain. No comments, please, on the state of said organs.

I'm all for the Wake too - singing, dancing, laughing, telling stories. We have them in my family, and yesterday, we talked about having one for Dodes. With that one? It could go for days!

If there is a funeral, I'd like something to be said about the letter my soon-to-be-executed client sent to my wife. Background: He was to be executed Monday at midnight. On Saturday, he told me that he had sent a letter to my wife, which he knew would arrive after he was dead. I did't tell her about it, and when it didn't arrive in a day or so, I just thought that it never would. Well, Thursday, my wife called me a work crying about the letter, which said very nice things about me, some of which I don't even know what he was talking about. (Something about how I had done something for him extraordinary, and that I would know what it was--but I never did figure it out.)

I would hope that situation makes it into my funeral.

Oh, and this happened 13 years ago. Now the only executing going on is software licesne agreements, and no one dies from them. Except maybe a little bit of me every day I go to the office.

My Aunt Lucky used to tell everyone she wanted "Hail to the Chief" played at her funeral, because it was such a pretty song.

She died. No HTTC. I can't imagine why.

Cremation, very LOUD music (from Bond to Led Zep) and lots of food, drink, and partying. First person I catch crying gets haunted....

I would just say, please, please, do let people have some sort of gathering. A neighbor we all loved died at Christmas time this year, and he didn't want any sort of gathering. So we didn't gather. We huddled in small groups and talked on the phone over the course of several weeks. It's not the same.

This just isn't something I've thought about. After I'm gone, I don't care what music is played, what gatherings there are, etc. It'll all for the living, so I hope those people who want to remember me play the music they want to hear.

Like a wedding, a funeral is an opportunity to bring people who knew and loved us together. But while many people will travel for a wedding, how many will make the effort for a funeral? Maybe the wave of the future is cyber-services, where everyone can set aside an hour to log in on their computers and contribute a memory or an anecdote. It may be as close as we can get.

I plan to request cremation. But I want a tombstone. A funeral is a single event, but a tombstone will stand for years, if not centuries, and will remind anyone who passes by that we existed.

Kathy, you got me crying and I didn't even know Dodes.

I want it known right now -- every bit of me goes to live people, and if no live people need me, then I go to science. Anatomy classes, whatever. Yes, i read STIFF, and I still want to go to science.

And I told this to my kids just yesterday! -- my ashes get scattered in Topanga State Park, on the fire road where I most loved running. But save a few for Paris (the Seine) and NYC (Broadway theater district).

Donate my organs, cremate me (no open casket ever). I want "ThunderRoad" by Springsteen, "My Way" by Sinatra, "Amazing Grace", "On Eagle's Wings", "I'll Fly Away" and that lovely Amish song (at least I think of it as Amish) "Tis a Gift to be Simple". I want lots of wine and really good food and people laughing and telling stories.

One of my friends and I have promised each other that we'll make sure the parking lot is filled with cars even if we have to hire car fillers. But I don't think we will.

Kathy, you have been very fortunate, indeed, to have such a friend. And I love you, too, hon. You brighten my day so often, all of you.

Funerals--I've been to way too many of them in the last nine years. Between Hubs and me, we've lost about a dozen each friends and relatives, including one sibling and one parent apiece. So we have had so many conversations about "what happens after". We both detest layouts, with the body in the coffin at the funeral home, which I think is plain barbaric. And I'm someone who grew up with a grandfather who was the sexton of the local Catholic cemetery and spent nearly all my childhood playing among the tombstones.

Cremation is my preferred method of dealing with my mortal remains, and now I want them scattered at our farm. Then I want all our friends and relatives to have a big party with lots of food. My daughters can just take my iPod and play the My Favorites playlist. I also hope they will do what we've done for other family members' funerals recently, and make a photo slideshow of moments from my life, particularly those moments that touched them each the most. But most of all, I want them each to know that I will always be with them, no matter how hard they struggle to get away. ;-)

Organ donation, no viewing at a funeral home, cremation immediately then a memorial service at my church with a lunch served after. Songs to be sung include: 'It Is Well With My Soul' (love to sing this song and the story behind it's writing is incredible), 'Be Thou My Vision', and to be played, 'Beethoven's Ode To Joy'.

I don't care where they scatter my "cremains", just as long as they don't keep them or bury them. Bones are just bones, ashes are just ashes, the remains are not the person and aren't to be venerated.

Judy - "A Gift To Be Simple" is a Shaker hymn.

Aw, geesh, Kathy. Nine a.m. and I'm crying. Back at you, hon, with the love thing.

Little story about "Simple Gifts." There's another version called Lord of the Dance that was sung at the funeral of an elderly friend of mine. (The same woman who had her GIRLFRIENDS - ages 65 and up - carry her casket to the back graveyard. How cool is that?)

Anyway, when my mother died, I definitely wanted that. But the Episcopal minister of my mother's church balked since Lord of the Dance was considered a "secular song." (Same reason they wouldn't let me come down the aisle of my wedding to Whiter Shade of Pale.)

So, I found the reference and proved it was NOT a secular song. The lyrics (written in 1963) add a particular oomph to the already great tune because it is about triumphing over death. When it was done, and the funeral concluded, everyone was on their feet belting it out.

Here's how it goes:

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Oh, Sarah, I love that song . . . thanks for writing out all the lyrics. And, Peach, yes, Shaker, not Amish. Thanks.

Sarah, you convinced me!

Another is Gershwin's "Stairway to Paradise":

All you preachers
Who delight in panning the dancing teachers,
Let me tell you there are a lot of features
Of the dance that carry you through
The Gates of Heaven

It's madness
To be always sitting around in sadness,
When you could be learning the Steps of Gladness.
You'll be happy when you can do
Just six or seven.

Begin today. You'll find it nice:
The quickest way to Paradise.
When you practice,
Here's the thing to know,
Simply say as you go:

I'll build a Stairway to Paradise,
With a new Step ev'ry day.
I'm going to get there at any price;
Stand aside, I'm on my way!

I got the blues
And up above it's so fair;
Shoes,
Go on and carry me there!
I'll build a Stairway to Paradise
With a new Step ev'ry day.

I'll build a Stairway to Paradise,
With a new Step ev'ry day.
I'm going to get there at any price;
Stand aside, I'm on my way!

I got the blues
And up above it's so fair;
Shoes,
Go on and carry me there!
I'll build a Stairway to Paradise
With a new Step ev'ry day.
With a new Step ev'ry day.

It is a fair bet that Elaine has not checked in today. One of the stories from her stroke last year was that Don did not get the funeral arrangements right. I will let her tell the tale.

Organ Donation! http://www.mts-stl.org/ One of the best parties I ever went to was someone's kidney's tenth birthday party. Make the gift.

Helen Weiss was an old friend of my fathers. She died in September. Helen was the VP of public relations for Fammous-Barr and then Macy's in St. Louis for many years. "The Greater St. Louis Book Fair" and Macy's sponsorship of it is one of her legacies. Her funeral carried the subtitle so fitting for her work: "a very special event."


Kathy,

We all love you, too. It would be so cool to be able to have a ‘reunion’ of the TLC gang, but know that each morning it is comforting to be here. To laugh, to cry (like this morning you bitch!), and to think. You all are great friends to me. In this hectic world, too busy at work, stuff with parents/kids/siblings to deal with, I can come here to feel welcome & loved.
Dear Hubby & I have already promised each other that the Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” will be played. I think I would like Michael Buble singing “Home”. I don’t mind the funeral home. It is a way for those left behind to gather & reconnect. As a child, going to a Lutheran school, we sang for the old members funerals a lot. They wanted the 2nd or 3rd graders or the school chorus to sing for them. So funerals were never scary or something to be dreaded. I love cemeteries. There is something comforting to me that all of those people were just like me & lived their lives to the best of their abilities.
My uncle died 3 years ago this month and was buried on the day of one of the worst snow/ice storms we had seen in a while. Nine inches of snow on top of ice. We told everyone to stay at the church, it was just too dangerous for all of these old people to try to get to the cemetery. The funeral home even had big Suburbans to take the family to the cemetery. Dear Hubby drove our 4x4 truck & we took a couple of people in the crew cab. We were in the tent covering the grave when I noticed snow on my shoulder. One of the flaps had come loose & it was blowing in a bit. I started gigglingand my aunt turned around. When she saw the snow, she busted out laughing. We both agreed that my uncle was sitting there looking down at us and laughing his ass off.

Long time lurker. Finally got the nerve to join in! Kathy, thanks for the tears this morning. Had to share my story. My husband hates to travel so vacations have been few and far between. When my stepfather passed away we told our 21yo daughter that we both wanted to be cremated. Husband added this - "Hold who ever dies first ashes and when the other goes, combine the ashes, book a cruise to some wonderful place and dump the ashes overboard. Because you know, your mother always wanted to go on a cruise and I promised one day we would take one." He is always SO THOUGHTFUL!

Welcome, PhillySue!

What a lovely story...could we be married to the same man? lol!

I already have my plot, two spaces down from where my sister will be buried and down the hill from my dad and mom. Since Chuck and I both choose cremation, we can share the space. The only non-negotiable requirement is a kilted piper at the side of my grave piping Amazing Grace. My dad's memorial service was a veritable family reunion...we saw people we hadn't seen for years, and the luncheon afterwards was full of catching up and memories. That's what I want for me.

Kathy, I've tried twice to comment this morning and have ended up blubbering both times. You're a force of nature, babycakes.

My husband wants to be cremated and planted in our former small town, in the cemetery overlooking the football field. I think that means I'm going to have an eternity of football. Gad.

Hi PhillySue - thanks for joining the conversation!

Thanks to everyone for sharing - and especially for the songs! I am building a new playlist!

Also - one day early:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KERRY (the Martial Tart)

xo

I just planned a two-evening high school choir dinner theater, so please don't ask me to plan a funeral - I need a nap first. Although, the pastor at my hubby's grandmother's funeral said, "You write your own eulogy every day you are alive," which means I'm already halfway done.

My take on funerals is that they are for the living; I'd like my loved ones to celebrate my life and honor my passing in a way that reflects how they remember me.

As long as the pastor's first words are, "Wow! She was really, really old!"

Gayle Carline
www.gaylecarline.com
http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com

Geesh, what is it with husbands and cruises?

Kathy, right back at you. And I think one important lesson we learn from losing loved ones is not to take those we love for granted, or to ever let them forget how much we love them. That's why I never end a conversation with either my husband or daughter without saying "I love you." That goes for y'all, too.

I'm all about the organ donation. Just make sure that your loved ones know your decision and are aware that it may mean that you are kept on artificial life support for a time after you're really gone. That can be a hard idea to take unless you're already prepared for it (as we learned when my father passed). My husband and daughter are well aware of my feelings.

Then I've instructed my husband that, if at all possible, I want my ashes to be buried under a baby redwood tree at Redwood State Park in California. If that's not possible, then in a mountain forest somewhere. It's all good.

Then comes the party. I've learned that it's important for people to come together to mourn and to celebrate. At some point, a piper playing "Going Home" would be great, but mostly I just want people to eat, drink, listen to good music and, just maybe, remember something about me that makes them happy.

I'm with my mother on this one. She said she didn't care what came after. "If people want to come see me, they can do it now while I can enjoy the visit." We did have a simple memorial service for her, but only because others wanted one. I've signed the organ donor part of my license, and my sister knows (she's done the same), but I'm thinking of checking with St. Louis U med school as well. I just don't think the "empty cover" (to steal from Ben Franklin) matters when all is done.
A funny funeral story for those in tears: (I wasn't there, but have it from several good authorities) Emulating Joe Hill's last request (WWW members throughout the country scattered his ashes), a friend had his ashes placed in plastic bags with the request that mourners who wished to would take some to "a place where he would be happy." One of the women said, "You all know how he loved the women. I know he would be quite happy here," and placed the bag of cremains in her bosom. There was a rush to the front as all the women who loved him back emulated her example.

Thank you for sharing this story Kathy. Unlike the others, I did not shed any tears (my family will NOT believe that) but instead I laughed. How wonderful to have the opportunity to plan your own service and to be able to say goodbye to friends and family. I think you have gained much by this experience and again, thank you for sharing a part of your heart with us.

I have to share this---my friend's Grandmother has been ill and told her family that on her 90th birthday (which was a couple weeks ago) she was going to lay down and not wake back up. Needless to say within a week or so of that birthday she passed away. But NOT before she told them that the service could not be at the funeral home in town, but at one in the next small town in N.J. because PARKING WAS BETTER! You just have to love it!

>Geesh, what is it with husbands and cruises?
Sarah, could it because they don't get to drive??

Hoppy birdie to ewe, Kerry!

Playlist update - I'm making one with all the suggestions here. Believe it or not, the only one I needed to get from iTunes was "I'm Coming Home" by Ten Years After.

Many of the spiritual ones - including Sarah's "Lord of the Dance" came from an Irish Tenors CD called "Sacred" - and I've got Joel Grey cover of "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise" - excellent!

Now, to narrow down the Sinatra selections. Or not.

And really, William - which Bond? The main theme?

One of my best friends died of cancer 5 1/2 years ago. I didn't spend much time with Linda. She didn't want anyone to see her wasting away so we talked daily on the phone. I would send things to her mother's house for her to have from people at work. I took it upon myself to be her designated comedian. I sent her a voodoo doll kit, cartoons, funny cards, humor cds...anything to make her laugh.

Her memorial service was on my birthday. Those of you in the St. Louis area will remember the storm that hit in June of '03. Knocked out power to over 300,000 people in South City & County. Lightening, thunder, winds...just a mess. I live in St. Charles and the service was a good 30 minutes away on Lemay Ferry. In the middle of the storm Dear Hubby drove me to the funeral home. Driving down Lemay Ferry we noticed the power had gone out. We sat in the dark (emergency lights went out after about 30 minutes) waiting for the lights to go back on. The funeral director came out and told us they were worried that with the power out we could get hurt going home & we should procede in the candlelight. Linda's 20 year old son was the "Master of Ceremonies", as he put it, and put us all at ease by saying, "You know, Mom did this on purpose. She didn't want a big deal or anyone showing up to mourn. So she threw in the storm to get us out of here as fast as possible." That opened the flood gates of funny stories and we all left feeling much better.

Linda & I had many philosophical discussions about religion & heaven, all most all ending with her telling me "Once your are gone, you become fertilizer". I respectfully disagree with her. I know she was sitting in heaven laughing herself silly at all of us goofballs who were out in tornado conditions just for her.

In October of '03 was when I got through to John Edward on Larry King Live.

I also want to be cremated. I hate being cold . . . Not so concerned about where my ashes go, except a little tiny bit - I want it taken to Disney World and sprinkled in the park at the Canada pavillion.
When my dad died we had an invitation only party at my parents house and everyone drank from his tiny liquor bottle collection - excepted the ones that had gellified or evaporated! Lots of Neil Diamond (Forever in Blue Jeans) and Creedance was played, many loud stories and dancing.
I think it would be hilarious if someone plugged in my iPod shuffle at my wake and hit shuffle - it would be lots of my favourite music and probably some really strange stuff to be played at a wake (Marilyn Manson, Depeche Mode . . .)

Wow, that was wonderful. When it's my time I hope my kids can look back and laugh at the chaos that was normal for a house with 5 kids.

"Many of the spiritual ones - including Sarah's "Lord of the Dance" came from an Irish Tenors CD called "Sacred" . . . "

ML is putting her Google-Fu to work to find you a version with people who sing in the bass clef. Maybe Mark Hayes. Or Martyn Carthy, or The Dubliners after three pints of Guinness, if it has to be in a high key.

You guys are so funny and creative, and I love all the stories. Thanks for being here every day. I appreciate every word, story and discussion we have, and I feel like all of you are my dear friends, even if we've never met in person. So thank you everyone!

I'd like music from Lisbeth Scott at my funeral, particularly from the State of Grace CD. She sings a Celtic version of "Tis a Gift to be Simple" that is beautiful. The best thing about the CD is it's very upbeat (with a back beat ;-0 ) and just beautiful. You can find it at the bottom of this website page:

http://www.lisbethscott.com/music.php

And I'd like a violin and classical guitar too, just like at my wedding.

The funerals for my mom and my dad were fun because we gathered back at the house, ate, drank and told great stories. I want that too.

I haven't thought about coffin vs cremation, but I am donating whatever healthy organs I have left.

Kerry - Happy Birthday to You!!! (one day early)

And welcome to TLC, PhillySue.

What wonderful stories and thanks to everyone for sharing them.

Thanks for the music ideas too.

Tom - I don't suppose Barry White recorded it? (kidding - I already checked). If anyone can find a bass version, it's you and ML.

And seriously - how do I narrow down the Sinatra and Led Zepp tracks?

This is a hijack, but thought it was interesting & helpful

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/02/how-we-got-into.html

Kathy, I love TLC and all of the beautiful people that come here to share their lives. What a wonderful friend Dodes must have been to evoke such caring and love in so many people. She and you will remain in my thoughts.

Personally, I don't want or need a funeral, I'm all for cremation after my organs have been shared with whoever should need them. I haven't thought about donating what's left to science, although, that would be a possibility. What I do want and need to have is one major blow out, let everybody eat, drink, and be merry. That's how I want to be remembered, someone that knew how to dance and make merry. Scatter my ashes wherever you want, it's just a shell of what once was.

This was an amazing post, Kathy.

I don't really want a funeral, just a big beach bonfire with plenty of margaritas. When everybody's done laughing and telling stories, and drinking, and full of hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken, they can crank up the boom boxes and play CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE.

XO,

Lisa

Kathy, you had me blubbering after reading it when it popped up in the wee hours of the morning. You, my friend, are deeply loved. The group here rocks and has been one of profound joy to visit.

When I go, I want a party. I want organs donated, the remainder cremated, and then music and dancing and great food. I want laughter--and crazy stories. Most of all, I want my family and friends to know I loved, deeply truly and know that I was loved back, deeply truly. I want them to know they were the grace that made every day worthwhile, and the heart that kept the darkness at bay. I want them to know that I believed my job here was to love, encourage and entertain, and I will always live in the words of all of the books I've read. If they want to visit me, visit me there.

Kathi, I think it's going to be baritone rather than bass.

Before my mother died she told me (and wrote notes in her journal) who she wanted as pall bearers, what music she wanted played at her funeral. She also told me she wanted a bottle of Scotch and a carton if cigarettes in her casket. I took it upon myself to include red patent high heels, too. She raised me to believe that no wardrobe was complete without red heels.

On a serious note, make sure your final wishes are written out, especially those wishes about ventilators and body parts. I don't care if you die intestate, but you better have your witnessed final directives ready. And tell your friends and family what you want. I have the legal version for California and I have sent the following to all my friends and family:


New Living Will Form

I, ____________, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead partisan politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it or lawyers/doctors/hospitals interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:

______a Martini ______a Margarita ______a Scotch and soda ______a Bloody Mary ______a Vodka and Tonic
_______a glass of Chardonnay ______a Steak ______Lobster or crab legs ______The remote control ______ a bowl of ice cream ______ The sports page ______ Chocolate ______ Sex

It should be presumed that I won't ever get any better. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day. At this point, it is time to call the New Orleans Jazz Funeral Band to come do their thing at my funeral, and ask all of my friends to raise their glasses to toast the good times we have had.

Signature: ___________________________

Date: ___________________________

NOTE: I also hear that in Ireland they have a Nursing Home with a Pub. The patients are happier and they have a lot more visitors. Some of them don't even need embalming when their time comes. If anyone knows the name of this happy place PLEASE pass it on!

Kathi, I think it's going to be baritone rather than bass.

Before my mother died she told me (and wrote notes in her journal) who she wanted as pall bearers, what music she wanted played at her funeral. She also told me she wanted a bottle of Scotch and a carton if cigarettes in her casket. I took it upon myself to include red patent high heels, too. She raised me to believe that no wardrobe was complete without red heels.

On a serious note, make sure your final wishes are written out, especially those wishes about ventilators and body parts. I don't care if you die intestate, but you better have your witnessed final directives ready. And tell your friends and family what you want. I have the legal version for California and I have sent the following to all my friends and family:

New Living Will Form

I, ____________, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead partisan politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it or lawyers/doctors/hospitals interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:

______a Martini ______a Margarita ______a Scotch and soda ______a Bloody Mary ______a Vodka and Tonic _______a glass of Chardonnay ______
a Steak ______ Lobster or crab legs ______The remote control ______ a bowl of ice cream ______ The sports page ______ Chocolate ______ Sex

It should be presumed that I won't ever get any better. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day. At this point, it is time to call the New Orleans Jazz Funeral Band to come do their thing at my funeral, and ask all of my friends to raise their glasses to toast the good times we have had.

Signature: ___________________________

Date: ___________________________

NOTE: I also hear that in Ireland they have a Nursing Home with a Pub. The patients are happier and they have a lot more visitors. Some of them don't even need embalming when their time comes. If anyone knows the name of this happy place PLEASE pass it on!

sorry for the long and double post.

Mary Lynn, I think I would have liked your mother!

For those of you in Missouri, here is the state attorney general's website concerning living wills.

http://ago.mo.gov/ConsumerCorner/encyclopedia/living-will.htm

http://www.doyourownwill.com/lwindex.asp

Has a nice listing for all states.

Don't leave it for your family to decide.

Organ donation, my sister gets my boobs, then I want to be cremated and scattered in Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park in California. I have been steadily making a list of songs to be played at the wake. Don't want a funeral, I only want tunes, microbrews and wine and good food for the folks to enjoy.

Kerry, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Kathy, easy: ALL of them from DR. NO to whatever the latest one is when the time comes. And I want them LOUD, vibrating windows loud....

My brother was an old hippie and his funeral was more like an Irish wake.
My niece was very upset that the funeral director put a very conservative tie on him. So I went up to the casket, called the director over and asked him where my brothers tie was. He said he didn't think it was appropriate. Yeah but you didn't know him!
Within an hour DB was wearing his favorite smilely face tie. He also had a racing form,& bottle of beer in his casket (not to mention the joint one of his friends tucked behind his ear and the leaf I tucked in his hand!)
After I got hubby's ashes back, I put all the roaches from his tray in the urn with him. Make him happy on the other side!

Rita, you are fun!
V, you have to be the world's best sister (if just a wee bit odd . . . ;-)

To all who have stated 'Yes' to Organ Donation. Thank you. I have been an active volunteer, educator, and campaigner for over 16 years....since my brother was first told that he required a lung transplant.

Eleven months later, this song was written and sung at his funeral...

My life begins today,
the one in which I’ll know
Everything I never knew before.
My life begins today,
for Finally I have found,
Jesus standing by the open door.

How everything has changed!
What wonders fill my sight!
A world filled with love and light!
Come celebrate with me,
My life begins today.

My life begins today,
the one in which I’ll stand
Blameless before the throne.
Forever I will live
Within a mansion built
On Jesus Christ the corner stone.

Oh, what exquisite joy
has finally come to me!
The Battle’s been won,
I’m forever free!
So come rejoice with me,
My life begins today.

So, come rejoice with me,
My Life Begins Today.


My mom and I were actually accepted as living donors for lungs, but he didn't make it. Since then, I have become a tissue recipient, my cousin died and donated his eyes, I volunteered to do a kidney swap for a friend who needed a different blood type, and do my cheerleading best every two years at the US Transplant Games.

So, obviously, I have 'shared my decision' with my family as they would be the final deciders should the matter become necessary, and would a an organ donor. My mom and stepdad have told me to cremate them, and inter them with David, which is where I will be someday....as my final act of torturing others (it is a 3-hour drive from my home).

Songs....well, apart from the above...I have always been partial to Amy Grant's "Father's Eyes". Ultimately, as long as there are no funeral durges, I wont have to haunt anybody...keep it uplifting with lots and lots of music and singing.

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