Saturday, May 13, 2006

Boomer Memorial

I did a funeral today. It was for a man in his early fifties who died suddenly after many years of severe mental illness and other health problems. His family did not want a big, formal, service: just a gathering of family and close friends--in the chapel instead of the sanctuary. They said they did not want organ music, but would bring a CD player and some music. His sister said she thought Day by Day from Godspel would be appropriate. She did not own the CD, but thought she knew where she could find it. I agreed to this plan.

So this afternoon I broke away from our women's retreat early to return to the church. I got there with just enough time to meet with the family briefly and get my materials together. Imagine my surprise, then, when at the appropriate point in the service I signaled the cousin running the CD player to cue the music--and I heard wafting across the chapel toward me not The Godspel's Day by Day, but Lynrd Skynrd's Freebird.

If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me?

I successfully supressed the urge to laugh out loud and sat in respectful meditation, watching the congregation. All the men of a certain age were communing with their inner seventeen year olds--some smiling, some with eyes closed --obviously transported to another spring in another place, some actually getting teary and choked up. The seventy and eighty year old contemporaries of the deceased's parents were looking either confused or shocked. What on earth is this song and why am I hearing it in church? The twentysomething nieces and nephews were being polite: this is what was cool when uncle was young, poor thing.

The cousin let the sound fade out once it hit that long instrumental section at the end and I got up to read the Twenty-third Psalm. But somehow, I had not made the complete return trip from that spring dance at the end of seventh grade because I suddenly heard myself saying,
Even thought I rock through the valley of the shadow of death . . .

Baby boomer funerals are different, huh?

10 comments:

Songbird said...

Oh, pcit!! I'm laughing and crying, both.

Songbird said...

And what's worse, at a wedding I once said, "A reading from First Corinthians Channel 13."

cheesehead said...

Somehow, "Free Bird" doesn't seem like such a bad song for a memorial to me.

Note to self: "Consider a little Skynrd for my own pre-planned memorial. Instruct family to bring lighters."

Jane Ellen+ said...

That is priceless. Absolutely priceless.

peripateticpolarbear said...

Now I have that song in my head.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I loved this! What a cool send off from an equally cool family.

And I think what you said was just as cool and appropiate.

LutheranChik said...

I attended the non-religious funeral of a coworker where all the music was canned pop and country music. Good Lootern girl that I am, this was a new experience to me...especially the deceased's favorite song, which devoted a lot of time to descriptions of "makin' love with youuuuuuu...." I found myself thinking like the Church Lady: Well...i'n't that special? I think I blushed.

SingingOwl said...

Okay, LC, I would have turned into the church lady too. :-D

But Freebird? I laughed out loud. Cool!

see-through faith said...

ROLF

and lol @ songbird too

are you two related to Mr Bean by anychance?

SpookyRach said...

Oh God, thanks for the laugh. Gotta dry my eyes...

I once went to the funeral of a former probationer. He died in a freak accident, not long after finally cleaning up his life. The family played Ozzy Osborne's "Mama, I'm Comin' Home".

It was terribly appropriate and hauntingly beautiful.