Planning a Funeral…Mine (Part Two)

FuneralSong

[The dog ate today's blog post. Or at least it fell somewhere into that mysterious bit bucket. Although I wrote it immediately after writing Sunday's post, I must've failed to save the draft, and I didn't discover that until this morning when I added the above image in preparation for posting. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to rewrite the post before leaving for the Wednesday nursing home ministry, and I didn't think you would appreciate my slopping something together just so I could get it out at its usual time. Thank you for your understanding.]

This past Sunday, I shared with you that my wife and I plan to be cremated, and that’s about as far as I got in talking about my funeral. So here’s the rest of the story.

For years I’ve wanted a recording of Chi Coltrane’s “Go Like Elijah” to be played at my memorial service. It’s an energetic song. Very positive. One that is likely to get people’s feet tapping. That’s what I’d like.

Why be mournful? I’ll be in a better place. (Well, yes, I do want people to miss me, but why do it mournfully? And, yes, I’d rather that Jesus’s second coming took place soon and made this planning irrelevant.)

I also want a recording of the song pictured at the top of the page to be played. (Click here for a downloadable copy of the lead sheet.) It’s one of my original songs, and I recently updated a few of the words and changed the tune a little at a place where I could no longer reach the notes. Then I spent days making a digital recording of it.

As a frustrated perfectionist–it’s not within my power to do as good a job as I want–calling that recording finished is hard. But I’m reasonably satisfied. You may listen to it by clicking here.

As you’ll undoubtedly gather, I hope the people who hear this song at my memorial service will associate the good things the song talks about with me and not the bad ones!

Yes, we’ll have other music, too. Congregational singing, though. Not the choir. They deserve to have the day off.

“It Is Well with My Soul” is probably my favorite hymn, so I suppose they ought to sing that. And maybe “Amazing Grace.” And let’s not leave out “Victory in Jesus.”

And, yes, I want the pastor to present a brief evangelistic message for those present who might not yet be Christians.

Hmm. Sounds like a grand time. Too bad I won’t be there to enjoy it. Especially when it’s time to pig out afterwards…

Do you have your funeral planned? Do you have favorite songs you want sung? Anything unusual done (e.g., dancing on the coffin)? Please share a comment.

<>

I’ll be back again this Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger

Planning a Funeral…Mine

cruiseship

Some folks were probably horrified at reading the title of today’s blog post, but I didn’t intend for them to be. Whether we want to admit it or not, all of us are going to die sometime, and it makes a lot of sense to get the decision-making out of the way ahead of time. Especially as it relates to money.

My parents did that, and it made things so much easier. They had not only selected their coffins, they’d also prepaid almost all of their funeral expenses.

My wife and I are taking that one step further. Why make our heirs spend hundreds of dollars of their inheritance on coffins that will be visible only for a couple of viewings and maybe a little while before the funeral ceremony. We are FAR too practical for that kind of wasteful spending.

Not only that, however. Why purchase a grave plot or even a small stone marker? As Christians, we believe that–like the repentant thief who was crucified beside Jesus–we will be with Him in Heaven immediately upon dying.

(Don’t tell our friend Eric about our plans, however. He believes we’ll remain completely dead until the time of Jesus’ second coming, and we can’t convince him otherwise.)

In case you haven’t seen it coming, that means Kathleen and I both want to be cremated. Yep, ashes to ashes.

And forget putting those ashes in a fancy jar that somebody had to dust periodically. We want our ashes thrown to the wind. And why not? I learned to play guitar during the Bob Dylan era…”Blowing in the Wind.”

Thrown to the wind…somewhere. The location has yet to be determined.

One of Kathleen’s girls suggested celebrating our deaths by taking a family cruise and throwing the ashes into the ocean to be consumed as fish food. Fine with us, as long as they don’t expect to inherit enough to pay for them, their spouses, and their kids to take that cruise.

They might also have trouble convincing their employers that a cruise for that purpose is a legitimate use of paid time off for a funeral. Go figure. Employers are funny people.

I suppose our kids could just store the ashes in a mason jar until vacation time. Properly labeled to avoid mistaking them for a cooking ingredient, of course.

This has been fun, readers, but it’s not really what I’d intended to write this blog post about. Looks like I’ll have to write a Part Two to cover that. Come back on Wednesday.

But–just in case this post has upset you–Kathleen and I don’t have any plans for dying. We’ll be more than happy to let that happen whenever God desires. And we can rest more comfortably in the meanwhile, confident that our eternal futures are as well provided for as our return to the earth.

Please share your reaction in a comment. And don’t think I’m criticizing anyone who feels differently from us.

<>

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger

 

 

Everyone Has a Twin Somewhere

 

jmeyers2   jmeyers   targetTwins

On one hand, we’re taught that each of us is unique. Just as unique as our fingerprints. And, as I read somewhere recently, as unique as our eyes.

On the other hand, a popular common belief says that each of us has a twin somewhere in the world. Not quite identical in appearance, but close enough to make the observer look twice.

When I was still married to my ex-, her sister went on a Mediterranean cruise, if I recall correctly. When she came home and reported on her trip, she said she’d seen a guy who could’ve been my twin–somewhere on a Greek isle, if I recall correctly.

And then there’s Jeff Meyers, who at that time was a columnist for the St. Louis newspaper. No idea about his status now.) And he wrote “whimsical, offbeat” articles. Wow! Does that sound like me or what? Check out the picture above and compare it to the fourth picture from the right in my banner. Sure, my beard was never that thick, even when I had a full one. My hair, either.

But the resemblance is close enough to startle me.

But my favorite twin story goes back to my temporary stint at Target. When somebody told me about one of the vendors–at least that’s what I understood him to be–who looked like me, I asked that they send the guy up front for me to meet the next time he came in.

And so they did. And that picture of two bearded guys in red comes as close to proving the theory of my having a twin as I ever expect to see. Believe it or not, I have to look closely to remember which one is ME!

What about you? Do you have a twin–real or coincidental? How about leaving a comment to share that story with us?

<>

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger

The Oldest Living Orphan

Uh, okay.

I didn’t say “oldest living orphan in the world,” now did I?

No, but I’m the oldest (and only) living orphan in my household, and I don’t like it.

Hearing a sixty-seven year old man say that might sound a tad strange, but here are the facts. My father died in 1993 and my mother died fourteen months later. That left me parentless, right?

Of course, if you want to get technical, the word orphan normally describes a parentless child. But why shouldn’t it apply to anyone without parents–without regard to age? After all, we’ll always be our parents’ children, even when they’re gone.

And suppose that older man doesn’t have any siblings. And almost no relatives left on his mother’s side; he only hears from them when and if they think to let him know another family member has died. And the relatives on his father’s side are so distant he doesn’t know how the ones he has connections with on Facebook are related to one another. Or to him.

I used to say that if I ever remarried, I could only marry someone who didn’t have any close kin. Having in-laws I felt close to would have seemed too strange.

As things turned out, my wife, Kathleen, still has a full complement of living relatives. Her parents–though quite aged–are still managing on their own, and she has two brothers, sisters-in-law, and a good variety of nephews and nieces.

They’re all fine folks, and I’m glad to know them. I appreciate them. I even like them. A lot.

But by no fault of theirs, I still feel like an orphan at times.

What do you say? Does this make sense? Can you relate to what I’m saying? Please share a comment if you can.

<>

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

 

 

 

How Much Solitude Is Enough?

AshesRogerChair   HappyNetbook   HappyRogerLegs   HappyAshesChair2

My wife, Kathleen, flew to Memphis today to visit her aged parents. We decided it would be simpler for me to stay home with the animals, Ashes the white cat and Happy the miniature dachshund. She won’t be rooming by herself at her parents’ place, though. Her older daughter arranged a few days of vacation time to join her mother and grandparents.

The good news is I enjoy solitude. Those of you who’ve been following this blog may recall the post I wrote about enjoying peace and quiet–something Kathleen and I both like.

But solitude is different. It’s the state of being alone.

Okay, so Happy is sitting in my lap at the moment with her chin across my arm. And Ashes has spent most of the day on top of the rocking chair cushion–right behind my head. So I guess I can’t really claim to be alone.

I can’t say that the animals do a whole lot of talking. Not to me, anyhow. Happy barks at Ashes when she wants (and can’t get) his attention. And Ashes meows ferociously when he wants to be fed. Both animals seem to have the afternoon routine down pat.

But their internal food clock is always off by thirty to forty minutes. To try to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the morning, I hold off feeding them until 4:15.  By that time, Happy goes to the door and scratches as if she needs to go outside. As soon as I get up, she heads to her food bowl.

Let’s go back to the original question. How much solitude is enough? And does the company of my two animals preclude my having solitude?

I’ll admit one thing. I’d be a lot lonelier without them. But I still miss Kathleen.

It’s not that I can’t take care of myself. I’ll start fixing sloppy joes for supper in a few minutes, and tomorrow is my normal laundry day. I was a bachelor for a few years before marrying my first wife and didn’t suffer too many ill effects from it.

But a guy does get used to the company, I admit. And the animals don’t cut it. Their company just isn’t the same as Kathleen’s.

I may not have reached the “too much solitude” state yet, but I’ll get there long before Kathleen gets home next week.

Some people can’t stand being by themselves. Are you one of those, or do you enjoy being by yourself? How about leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.

<>

If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

I have another blog–”As I Come Singing”–where I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Click here to visit the blog. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

 

Growing Where We’re Planted

mushroom3     YouAreHere      mushroom4

My wife, Kathleen, recently pointed out these two mushrooms growing in our front yard. We frequently walk our dog around the neighborhood, so we knew that we alone had been “blessed” with these two interesting growths. I might add that she wanted to know whether they would be safe to eat. I didn’t have any interest in that, but I did discourage her from trying to find out.

To tell you truth, I just enjoyed seeing them out there.

How in the world did these two mushrooms get here, though? Okay, so their seeds–or whatever mushrooms start out as–had obviously landed in our yard and somehow decided that the environment was hospitable enough to take up residence. At least until time to mow the lawn.

But that really doesn’t answer the question, does it?

Where did the seeds come from and how did they travel to our yard? Impossible to know for sure. Perhaps a bird ate some of the parent plants and, uh, dropped the seeds where they landed. Or maybe a dog or some other animal  did the same thing–but not from the air.

During the mid-nineties I went on a mission trip to Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. I stayed in a camp that faced a beautiful sight. Tabletop mountain. Looking at it from the camp, I had no reason to doubt why it had been named that; it looked as if the entire peak had simply been sliced off, leaving it perfectly flat on top.

But what I couldn’t see until I climbed Tabletop Mountain was the number of prickly pear cacti on top. If I hadn’t known I was on a mountain top in Australia, I would’ve thought I was somewhere in the American west.

The explanation my host provided was that birds had dropped those seeds from who-knows-where-else. Like another country, perhaps. Unbelievable.

Whether I wanted to believe that or not, I couldn’t deny the evidence right before my eyes. Like the mushrooms in my front yard, the cacti had somehow reached the mountain top, taken root, and thrived.

Looking back at my life–thinking about the various places I’ve lived in Florida, North Carolina, Virgina, and Maryland–I can’t say that I bear much resemblance to the cacti or the mushrooms; I didn’t grow up all in one place. Wherever I’ve lived, however, I’ve taken root–sometimes more successfully than others. And I’ve grown a bit more wherever I was planted. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

God must have known it would take a number of different places–different influences–to grow me into the person I am now. I haven’t finished growing, though. Reaching sixty-seven has never been the end goal.

But the important thing has been to grow wherever I’ve been planted.

What about you? Have you lived all your life in one place or moved around a lot? How have the different influences on your life shaped who you are?

<>

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

 “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. On “As I Come Singing”check it out here–you’ll find the lyrics of many of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list. You’ll also find audio recordings of some of them at the Listen tab on my website.

Best regards,
Roger

A Tribute to Afternoon Naps

napping     animalsEating     cpapRoger

For almost as long as I can remember, sleep has been an issue for me.

At one point in my life I tended to fall asleep far too easily at all the wrong times. During a meeting at work. While talking to a friend. During a sermon. I used to claim I’d fall asleep during a Billy Graham sermon when he was at his prime.

But at least I never fell asleep while driving.

There were advantages, however. I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep at night, and I almost fell asleep while my lady dentist of that time was working in my mouth. A real advantage when having a root canal.

I don’t know why I never talked to the doctor about my problem. Instead, I continued putting up with it until he prescribed something for a different problem, and my falling-asleep-at-the-wrong-time problem seemed to magically disappear. Even though I no longer take that particular medicine, I haven’t hadn’t any relapses into wrong-time sleepiness.

But a new problem surfaced over the years. Sleep apnea. Not only was I snoring loudly enough to raise the roof, I would actually stop breathing occasionally for seconds at a time. Not surprisingly, that concerned my wife. A LOT!

So I started sleeping with a mask connected to a CPAP machine. It worked great until I finally got tired of having to sleep only in certain positions. Otherwise the mask leaked air, which not only lessened its usefulness, but made noise I my wife and I could both live without. It wasn’t as effective as it had been before, anyhow. So I put it back in its case and stuck it under the bed.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, my doctor told me to lose weight rather than count carbs, and the interesting thing is my sleep apnea disappeared as I grew smaller. I still snore occasionally, but not nearly as objectionably, and my wife says I no longer quit breathing while I’m asleep.

Somewhere along the way, however, I started waking up in the middle of the night and frequently fretting irrationally about things I wouldn’t even be concerned about when I was awake. So the doctor prescribed amitriptyline.  Although the directions say to take it at bedtime, I’ve found the effects last better if I wait till I have to get up during the night–normally sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m. Since it doesn’t actually make me sleepy, I can take it as close to time to get up as I want to.

Flash forward to the present. We normally head for bed around 9:00 p.m., and I pray myself to sleep. But the cat jumps on the bed around 5:00 a.m. and starts meowing more loudly than I’ve ever heard any other cat meow. Sure, fella. I know you had supper at 4:15, but can’t you let us sleep till 6:30, please?

He may or may not settle down until one of us gets up and feeds him. And if we’re feeding him, we have to feed the miniature dachshund, too. Then whoever got up to do the feeding comes back to bed and everyone tries getting back to sleep. Even if he or she succeeds, that break in our sleep leaves us less than satisfactorily rested.  Especially me.

So it’s the rare day that I don’t grab a nap soon after lunch. All I need is half an hour. Occasionally forty-five minutes. Then I’m all set to finish the rest of the day. Long live afternoon naps!

Do you have any trouble sleeping? What’s helped you? How about leaving a comment and sharing your answers with the rest of us…

<>

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on my other blog, “As I Come Singing“; go here to check it out. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of songs. You can find the list here.

Best regards,
Roger