Lloyd Waters: Funerals, eulogies, suppers and such

November 27, 2011|By LLOYD WATERS

I went to a funeral not so long ago, and the funeral director said, “Pete Waters, I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

“I prefer to keep it that way, sir,” I responded, and mingled into the crowd to get away from him.  

One day, at another funeral, a friend of mine and I were sitting in his truck waiting to leave the cemetery when he said, “Pete, when you die, there is going to be a lot of people at your funeral.”

“You really think so?” I replied.

“Yep,” he said, “but 80 percent of them are going to be there for the sole purpose of making sure you are dead.”

And then he laughed like crazy.

I was a prison warden at the time, and I didn’t think his comment was all that funny.

Funerals can be such sad events, but the ones I like the best are those that bring forth a good message and provide some honorable tales about the deceased.    

I was out West this past summer, and while reading the Salt Lake Tribune, I came across a story written by Robert Kirby. The article told a story about the murder of a young man, and while Robert was standing with almost 100 of the young lad’s family and friends around an open grave, he was thinking about how the family might remember their son at the service.

As he and everyone remained silent around the grave, in the distance, he saw a group of riders on horseback headed toward the burial site. The boy’s father was in the front of the riders leading his son’s horse with an empty saddle.

What a marvelous tribute, I thought, and a funeral that would be remembered for years by those gathered to honor the fallen son.

I believe funerals should be special for the departing soul.  They should be interesting, informative and entertaining as well.

I want no sadness at my funeral.

I remember offering a eulogy for my father-in-law that included many laughs. Leon would have enjoyed that.

At another, I compared the deceased to Captain James T. Kirk, Mother Teresa and Winston Churchill.

My old friend was deserving of those accolades.

At another, I compared my friend and me to the two characters out of the “Men in Black” movie. People laughed.

When I encounter a eulogy where the presenter does not know the person who has died, I cringe when special names and dates are forgotten. When errors about the person’s character and life are made, my insides go into a frenzy in regard to the lack of preparation made by the person delivering the eulogy.

Every person, regardless of notoriety, deserves a “special” eulogy. I was going to write my own, but I’ve decided on pot luck instead.

My going away should be an exciting event if you are around and entertaining for sure. For you 80 percent coming just to have a peek, I would rather you stay home.

In the aftermath of a funeral in our community, there is always a very good meal that follows. Some good fellowship occurs and some genuine condolences are delivered at this time.

A good supper always seems to lighten the load of misery for some reason, unless you happen to eat too much, and then you carry the misery home with you.

It is a very fine tradition.

When I think of my last day on earth, I hope to remember those thoughts of my Native American ancestors and Chief Tecumseh, who put it succinctly:

“When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.  

“Sing your death song and die like a hero going home ...”

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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