Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I’m not morbid.  I don’t sit around worrying about death.  I haven’t bought a cemetery plot.  I figure if I don’t know where I’m being buried, I won’t care.  I haven’t picked out a casket.  I haven’t picked out a head stone.  I’m not going to.  It’s fairly safe to say that I don’t focus on my death.  I’ve got too much to do.

The older I get, however, it seems the more funerals I attend.  I’ve never given much thought to what kind of funeral I want.  But, after experiencing some unusual “celebrations of life,” I have decided what I don’t want.    I don’t want anyone – I repeat ANYONE – aside from the minister “remembering” me in public at my funeral.  Most of the time people feel compelled to share old stories that are, first of all, a bit of a surprise and a tad embarrassing to the wife, and, secondly, an absolute shocker to the kids.

I want the content of my funeral to be much like company retirement benefits –based on the last five years.  I want the minister to focus on the most recent past.  But, I’ve got friends who have already written my epitaphs.  They think they’re fun and clever. They want to dredge up crazy stuff I did years ago.  This is true.  I know everything they have to say, most of it’s correct, and that’s not the way I want to go out.  When people start sharing interesting aspects of their relationship with the deceased, it takes away all doubt.  Once someone goes public with crazy stories at a funeral, everyone will remember that the “dearly departed” was weird, strange, off-the-wall, and a bit of a nut.

I’m not kidding.  Funerals can be serious business.  I told my minister that under no circumstances is he to allow others to stand up during the funeral and memorialize me.  He said, “You need to tell your wife.  That’s between you and her.”

“Nope,” I almost shouted at him.  “She’s wonderful, but when it comes to my tacky friends wanting to share funny stories, I’m afraid she can be bought.”  He said he doesn’t see how this could be stopped.  He scared me and said, “You’ll have to admit, Bob.  Your jesting attitude and sense of humor does make great material for others.”

I threatened to hire Uzi-toting thugs to sit in the balcony and fire over the heads of anyone who stood up to say something about me.  But, my minister thinks that goes against the grain of Christianity.

Then it became clear what I must do.  I had to write my own funeral.  I started writing about humorous things that happened and how I handled them and Spiritual messages I learned.  Then I threw out anything the least big controversial or damaging to my character.  The two things left were so boring that even I objected.

I guess the only thing worse than people knowing “the real you,” is when the real you is so dull no one wants to speak at your funeral.

Date of Blog Story: 
February 10, 2009

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