The Linnet's Wings Summer 2014 - Page 50

At my own funeral, I want readings from Marilynne Robinson and John Steinbeck. I hold their books close, and I read them often. If I can give final words, I want them to be theirs. Someone will read for me—a friend, or my cousin, or my brother, if I am the one who dies first. “Our dream of life will end as dreams do end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes,” he will read. “And we will think, All that fear and all that grief were about nothing. But that cannot be true. I can’t believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life." And then someone else will walk to the rock that we are using for a pulpit, there on the side of a mountain. Hurricane Ridge, maybe, or somewhere near Mt. Rainier, where you can get to the place by car. That someone will read another passage, and another person will read a third. # My grandmother died in her living room thirteen days ago at 5:40 a.m. She died of cancer. Her memorial service happened this past Saturday, and the next night, sitting on my parents’ couch to draw out the time until he flew back to Montana, my brother and I decided what we wanted for our own funerals. We did not plan much, comparatively. My grandmother had arranged almost all of her service, and she arranged it months before she died. She picked the ushers and the speakers, and she chose the hymns and the musicians. She even hired the organist and the soloist, and she made all the arrangements for paying them. We joked that she had even planned, down to the day, when she was going to die. # We waited in the choir room before the service. My parents and my brother, my aunt and uncle and cousin. My grandfather and my great aunt and my other grandmother, plus a few other relatives. We had an hour to wait. My mother talked with my aunt, and my father talked with his mother. My cousin played a videogame, and my grandfather pretended to sleep. There was a whiteboard on the far wall, and because I did not want to talk to anyone, I erased someone’s notes from last week's Sunday School and found a marker. I wrote out short, easy poems. "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "In a Station of the Metro." They were not relevant, but I had them memorized, and I liked them. I wrote in large letters: so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water