I went to the memorial service recently for a wonderful friend who was a fine gentleman and who had a ton of friends. Great guy. At the start of the service [I was honored to give the invocation] the family showed a slide show, pictures running all the way back to his childhood through the last years of his life.
Everyone clapped when it was over. There were tears and smiles everywhere. His daughter had put the slides together with music to match the events in his life and everyone was happy. It gave the service an easy, loving cadence.
On the way home, I told my wife that we need to go through the entire closet full of boxes full of pictures that we have amassed and pick out the photos we would want people to see when it is “our turn.”
She pointed out that what I would want people to see and what people would want to see were probably two very different things.
We were going to sort through them anyway when we retired and it has been a while now and the closet is still full. She said that it would be an impossible job and we should probably let our children cope with the mess after we are gone. She told me to act like the closet wasn’t there. Easy for her to say. It’s like when she said, “Ned, don’t think about that large pimple on your nose.”
A couple of the kids did try to clean up the wall of boxes as special gifts to us over the past few years. We just ended up with about 20 albums sitting on a high shelf in my study. They gave up. Who wouldn’t? The mound of boxes didn’t seem to get smaller, anyway.
Our kids don’t use actual photos anymore, but use digital cameras and have websites full of pictures and videos of just about everything they and their kids do. They have them on things called iPods and on their cell phones. How do they know they will stay there?
We tried to give the boxes of photos to them as cherished things to ‘keep in the family.’ They don’t want them. What has happened to our children?
The kids wanted them when they dug through the piles when they were getting married and pulled out the ones they wanted to use so they would look good and cute. I don’t know why I can’t. It isn’t fair. Someday I am just going to do that, all on my own. I still have some really cute pictures of me as a kid.
I am thinking about writing an after-he-has-done-gone-and-left-us directive. It will make them do a slide show of the pictures I want and I think I will pick out the music. I liked that Jimmy Durante song, “As Time Goes by” in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle. “Inky Dinky Doo” would be good, too.
When I was younger, I was more of a Kenny Rogers kind of guy. I still can do a good Kenny. Back then, I knew when to hold em, I knew when to fold them and I knew when to walk away. At least I did then. Now, I’m not so sure.
Don’t tell my wife or kids, but I’ve been thinking about doing some songs myself and putting them on a CD to use at my own memorial service.
Nobody will let me sing while I’m still alive. If I write it into my directive, I think they have to do it after I’m gone, don’t they? I could do a great “Make Someone Happy” just like Jimmy D.
The thing is, I love to sing, but nobody will let me. They won’t even let me sing in church. They even asked me to stop clapping in time with the music. Said it threw everyone else off. And I was a pastor!
Even my littlest grandkids cry, “Poppa, please stop singing, please. You are hurting our ears.”
This surly attitude about my gift of singing really began when I was a freshman in high school and tried out for the choir. There were about a hundred of us on the stage and as the choir director led us in some singing, he kept cutting the group in half over and over again until there were just a few of us left. I thought, “Wow! I am probably going to be a lead singer.”
After my little group sang for a few seconds, he called me to take a few steps forward. I did so with a broad, knowing grin. He pointed at me with a shaking finger. “You, please leave and don’t ever come back. You have thrown off the entire choir. Go. Don’t ever sing again.”
Maybe they will be sorry when they hear my deep mellow voice bringing life to my own slide show. I have some great shots of me fishing.