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Today in My History

2000:  A Perfect Day
2001:  You Can't Go Home Again
2002:  Busy? Who Me?
2003:  Water, Water Everywhere
2004:  Because I'm the Boss, That's Why
2005:  Friends I've Never Met Before
Sizzling Summer Entertainment
  The Lost Weekend

The Secret Garden

Books Read in 2008
Updated: 7/19
America, the Book"



(sorry--I'll have a new one soon...promise!)

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A.L. Webber Obituary
I'll Have an Arm and a Leg, Please
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23 July 2008

We went to a funeral today.  It was a guy I didn't know at all, but his wife had been Walt's secretary many, many, many years ago and had gone on to continue to work in the office in a non-secretarial position.   Their son had been in school with David, apparently.

I don't really know about the death of the deceased, but apparently it was cancer and apparently it spread rapidly and he died not too long after his diagnosis.

The funeral was held in St. James Catholic church, which I used to attend when we first moved here, and which Walt still attends.   I don't know that I'd been in the church since they significantly remodeled it some time ago, before Paul died.  They painted the whole thing white, giving it a very stark, cold feel, as opposed to the warmer wood that I remembered. 

Paul was very upset about the money spent on the remodel and went to the church after it was finished, to sit there, waiting for the pastor to walk through so he could ask him why they felt it necessary to spend so much money on building beautification rather than spending the money to help the poor of this area. 

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As I sat in the church, waiting for the funeral to begin, I was flooded with emotion.  Not a religious emotion, but suddenly the weight of all the people we've lost washed over me.  I struggled to keep from crying.

The Mass began and, like the automaton I used to be, I recited all the proper responses at the proper place and marveled at how little I felt, and how mechanical it all felt.  So I let my brain wander to another place, while my mouth was reacting automatically to stimuli built up over a lifetime

I thought of a friend who is facing the big 70 birthday and the difficulty grasping the thought of being 70.  We aren't almost 70.  We are 30 or 40, at the very most.  Even if we have kids older than 40.  When did we become almost 70?

For myself, the difficulty is not the age numbers (after all, I'm so much younger 4icon.gif (1078 bytes)).  For me it's the number of people my age or younger who have died in the past few years.  There are times when I feel like I'm sitting here waiting to die.  Particularly after Michele's death, a death which was so sudden and unexpected.  What did she feel at the last moment?  Did she know something was going wrong, or did she just collapse on the bed after her heart stopped beating?

I haven't been a hypochondriac since I was 10 and terrified I was going to get polio and spend the rest of my life in an iron lung (the result of seeing the movie, Queen for a Day).  But I do find myself having twinges here and there and wondering if this is going to be the day Walt finds me collapsed somewhere, like Richard found Michele, who was only 3 months older than I am and in better health.

Or Jeannie, who was younger and died in much the same way. 

I hate this phase of life.  It doesn't matter that my mother is going strong at 88 and that her side of the family, if cigarettes don't kill them early, live into their 80s and 90s.  No matter whether I die tomorrow or 20 years from now, I am unquestioningly in the last phase of my life.

When you're young, your social events are the birthday parties of your friends.  Then you start going to your friends' bridal showers, attending your friends' weddings.  Then babies start coming and you get together for baby showers, then the birthday parties of your friends' children.  Then it's the bridal showers of your friends' children and their weddings.  Then you go to baby showers for your friends' children.

When you get to "a certain age," you find that you start going to funerals for friends of your parents, your parents, your friends' parents and then come the first funerals of people who were your friends, not your parents' friends.

At some point you start giving up your dreams, one by one, and realize that your time to do that thing has passed.  I have wanted to go on a photo safari to Africa all my life, for example, but I had to content myself to live vicariously through Peggy's trip--and her assuring me that "you wouldn't have been able to handle it," referring to the rough conditions of the road and my iffy back.  So that's one dream that I have to leave behind. 

I'll probably never take that cruise up the inland passage to Alaska either, though I haven't completely given up hope of doing that.

No matter how much longer I live, I am going to start going to more and more funerals of friends and wondering how many more of them I am going to attend before it's friends coming to a funeral for me

What a depressing thought!

The one thing I know is that there is no way I want the sort of funeral that the man today had.  While Paul's and David's deaths were tragedies, at least their memorial services were celebrations.  They were ashes in a small box and I am constantly reminded of how much more horrible it would have been if Paul or David had been in coffins.  I can't even imagine getting through that type of funeral.   We cremated them and we held memorial services with humor and music.  We didn't mouth familiar words like automatons, or listen to bibical readings that you've heard all our life that aren't comforting at all.

But everyone has the final service for their loved on that is the most meaningful and comforting for them and I would be the last person to judge how someone decides to bury a loved one.

But as for me, cremate me, have a memorial service, and then everybody have a big party.  And, if I'm lucky, I'll be there, sitting quietly at a chair in the back. somewhere near the nachos, until I take one last look at all the people I love and walk away to whatever there is that is waiting for me.  I know there is a a large group of friends and family who have paved the way for me and who, maybe, if I'm very lucky and if I lived a good enough life, are waiting for me to join them.


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Getting ready to go review yet another show
(Sweeney Todd)



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