Your ultimate top 25; the best EVER mixed tape…the track list of all track lists and what people will remember you by. Ever consider it? Any idea where I am going with this?
Ye Ol’ Funeral/Memorial Service Playlist. Got one? Kind of taboo but I’m going to roll with it anyway. In the swirl of international news of late I’ve found myself pondering some serious questions about life and the sanctity (or not) of it. Commenting on a friend’s Facebook posting this week I pounded out a small tirade, ending with “…death is death and it shouldn’t be celebrated.” I then thought about it for a while and realized that perhaps I was mistaken. Per usual, let me explain.
Some of us are forced into dealing with the inevitable, though oh-so-avoided, subject of death and the painful revelry surrounding it sooner than others. Me? I lost my father suddenly and without warning when I was 20. I had to walk the walk and do all of those funeral-y things like picking out a casket and flowers, all while (still) being in shock and panic over what had transpired less than 36 hours prior. I have a selective memory of that particular week of my life. For instance, I remember standing in what can only be described as a coffin showroom mindlessly nodding my head yes to the director telling me “Now, the red carnation is a masculine flower” (huh??) and, of course, I remember the music. Oh, my good heavens to Betsy, the music.
My sister, mother and I have survived for as long as we have without losing our minds because we love and support each other, yes, but mostly because we have fucking killer senses of humor. No two ways about it, laughter (with a healthy side of sarcasm) has gotten us through a lot of trying times. Imagine the 3 of us front row center at my father’s funeral service. With nothing to be heard but soft chatter of those paying my father their respect and all eyes on us, my mother drew my sister and I close and whispered “I should have brought some music. Enya or something. I hope they don’t play anything stupid.”
At that particular moment, as if being directed off stage by a guy wearing giant headphones screaming CUE THE MUSIC, the most horrendous, cryptic, minor organ chords, the likes of which we’d never heard before, rang out. Saying nothing to each other, we all pictured my father rolling his eyes and walking out of the room with a wave of his hand. We then proceeded to the unthinkable. Explosive laughter. I like to think he was laughing with us.
Why do I tell you this? For two reasons I suppose. 1) Have a plan, unless of course you dig churchy granny pipe organ. My BFF and I are in charge of each others music. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t something we dwell on. That’d be creepy. But it is something we’ve thought and talked about. For me, those thoughts morphed into a rough, unfinished list. In the case of an errant lightning strike or double decker bus taking me out prior to completion of said list, however, I trust my friend to take charge of all things music and make things Abby-style and celebratory. That’s right, celebratory. Leading to 2) I actually have no problem with celebrating on the occasion of someone’s death as long as it is an exultation of the lovely things they did in life. I for one don’t want a weepy bunch. I don’t expect dancing in the aisles, but I’d like people to have a toe-tapping moment. Time to remember something funny I might have said in the past or a really bad haircut I had in college; something to make them smile and maybe, just maybe, prompt a spin by the record store on their way home.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]