Way to go
|D. Barbara McWhite grew up in York County, S.C., and lives in Orange Park, Fla., with her husband and cat. Her column is published here each Tuesday. Opinions expressed are solely her own.|
“What were they thinking?” I thought to myself as I read the story about the funeral for David Kime Jr.
Mr. Kime, an 88-year-old World War II veteran and purple heart recipient, passed away on Jan. 20 and, to honor his memory and his love of Burger King Whoppers, his children detoured his funeral procession, including the hearse bearing his coffin, through a Burger King’s drive-thru window, where the mourners ordered 40 Whoppers to go. The deceased Mr. Kime’s Whopper was placed atop his casket before he was buried.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I thought. “This is hardly a proper way for grieving children to honor an elderly parent’s life.”
And knowing how crazy trends seem to catch on, my next thought was: Can this also happen to me?
In about 70 years -- give or take a few – I, too, will wake up dead, and it will be left to my children to decide how I will be honored. And if the aforementioned trend catches on, my funeral would go something like this:
After I’m gone and the mortician has…uh…done his thing, he will likely call on my children to collect together my burial garments. And my children, knowing their mother, will think, “What could be more appropriate than Mother’s favorite old mumu?”
My old purple mumu -- big-flowered, long and flowing and with a zipper down the front -- that should make it easy for them to…ummm...slip me into it.
There will be a skirmish when the mortician insists that I be installed wearing undergarments. My daughter will refuse to comply because she will have learned what every self-respecting mumu wearer knows -- that one just doesn’t wear underwear under a mumu.
For shoes, they will put me on my blue and white polka-dot Chuck Taylors.
My hair will be pulled back into my favorite silver barrette and I will be settled to rest on my red satin pillowcase…to keep my hair from mussing.
If my children are true to my memory and to the Kime trend, they will insist that the mortician dispense with the usual Mary-Kay paste. No funeral makeup for me; a touch of rouge, a little cranberry-colored lipstick, heavy on the mascara, and I am ready for the show.
The funeral will be short. A scripture or two, a few dirty jokes, an a capella choir singing “Oh, Happy Day,” followed by a prayer and a selection from Barry White’s greatest hits -- perhaps, “My First, My Last, My Everything.”
Then the mourners will watch the “Chuckles the Clown” episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” followed by my favorite clips from “Girlfriends” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Then out the church they will roll me and into the hearse I’ll go for my last tour de-city.
I can see it all now. The long, solemn procession (with police escort and lights flashing) would drive over to my local Super Walmart, where the mourners would convene to buy all my favorite foods: a bag of sweet potatoes, a can of planters Spanish peanuts and a box of strawberry frozen yogurt. Oh, and a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts…and some seedless grapes… Oh, and a Snickers bar… and some Off insect repellant.
Then off to the cemetery for the “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” And there I will lie, reposed in my purple mu-mu and covered in my favorite snacks, thinking, “What the heck...?”
Now seriously, when I think about David Kime, I am reminded of a song I often heard sung in the church where I grew up: “Let the life that I’ve lived speak for me. When I’m dead and in my grave and there’s nothing left to say, let the life that I’ve lived speak for me.”
And I guess we all hope for that.
I don’t know if Mr. Kime knew about or would have approved of the rather irreverent way his children chose to honor him. But what seemed irreverent to me at first glance seems both honest and fitting on closer inspection.
Among their memories of the life he lived as a husband and father and extraordinarily valiant soldier, Mr. Kime’s children also remembered the ordinary -- that Mr. Kime loved hamburgers.
So much of life is ordinary. So much of who we are is expressed in ordinary days.
In all honesty, I hope to live a long life. And when my time comes, I hope that my children will hold a short and dignified service for me. I hope someone will speak well of something I said or did to make a difference in this world. I hope someone will shed a tear as I am laid to rest on some shady hill.
Then later on, back at the house, I hope those I love most will remember the ordinary days - the jokes I told, that I could make a pot of candied sweet potatoes sing opera and how I looked with my hair pulled back in a silver barrette while wearing my purple flowered mumu.
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