Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Proper Way to Die (Part 5/7)

6. The Memory Will Never Die

And so, after bidding my loved ones a teary farewell, I close my eyes and enter the next dimension a la Dragonball Z.
But how am I to be remembered?
That's where the funeral comes in.
I used to want to be cremated and then have my ashes buried because fire is possibly the most amazing thing on the planet. At least, that's what cartoons taught me. And if the ashes were buried, then people could still visit, maybe leave a few flowers now and then.
But then I realized that if on the off-chance that I wasn't really dead, just comatose, being set on fire is not the best way to go. Neither is being buried alive, but at least I get a fighting chance. Edgar Allen Poe probably wouldn't agree. The guy was obsessed with being buried alive. In his stories, the very idea is terrifying. It's a recurring motif though. You'll find it in The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher and, of course, The Premature Burial.
So, burial it is.
Epitaphs are important. A lot of people write their own epitaphs. It could be something really deep and ominous like Shakespeare's:

Good friend for Jesus sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

Some believe that the purpose of the threat is to guard Shakespeare's biggest secret - that he never wrote any of his plays.

Many people believe Shakespeare was just a frontman for someone else who wrote his plays but didn't want attention for it. And some even believe clues to the identity of the real author are buried with Shakespeare's bones. A certain Delia Bacon almost dug up his grave to find out, but eventually chickened out. maybe she doubted her theory. Maybe the curse scared her away. Who knows?
So yeah, maybe I should have a scary epitaph on my tombstone.
Or it could be something devastatingly funny like Spike Milligan's:

I told you I was ill.

Given a choice, I'd prefer funny and memorable, but a meaningful epitaph is pretty enticing. I'll get back to you on that one.
I actually wrote an entire poem in the form of an epitaph. It's on this blog. Look for The Tombstone Talks. Actually, here's a link.
Now another great thing about a slow death is that I get to plan out my own funeral. Unlike Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, not everyone has the luxury of witnessing their own funeral, so at least this way I'd get a vague idea.
My model is Douglas Adams' funeral. Moving speeches by noted personalities and musical performances by famous artists (all of them friends, naturally). The speeches should be funny and nostalgic. Nothing too weepy. The songs? That's more complicated. There's such a long list of songs that I'd love to have played. I'd rather not go into it here, but maybe I'll put it up one day on my music blog, The Glass Onion. As for the kind of songs, some hymns, sure, but mostly popular music. A recent study shows that more and more people are opting for popular music to be played at their funerals rather than hymns. Why? I think it's because people just generally like pop music more than hymns and rather than have people listen to how their spirit was saved by God and is destined for paradise, I think they'd prefer them to groove to some nice tunes. I am reminded of my previous complaint that no one listens to music when you offer it. Maybe that's the root of this trend. People just wanting their friends to shut up and listen to what they like for a change.
And who says pop music can't be just as meaningful as hymns? At my funeral I'd want songs that are poignant, but uplifting. A celebration of life whilst marking a transition, a passing. The best example would have to be George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. In fact, you know what? My funeral should be like
The Concert for George.

Oh, and if not a single Beatles song is played at my funeral, I might just come back as a zombie and kill myself.
How else would I like people to remember me? The best way, of course, would be to remain alive in their memories. To have my friends remember some of the good times we'd had. Maybe laugh over them together whenever they meet. If I remember correctly, Shakespeare left his best friends enough money to buy a gold mourning ring each for them to wear in memory of him. Even though that has got to be the height of conceit, let me have a little fun and add to it.
I'd also like a scholarship or prize or something to be instituted in my name at my school. I've benefitted from such prizes in the past and I'd love to give back in the same way.
What else? A memorial quiz? That would be cool.
A Wikipedia page? Yup. I know you can do it for free with just about anyone as long as you don't make stuff up, but still, it'd be nice.
But the one thing that I'd really love, that may just be a pipe dream but which is the single greatest indicator that you've made a difference in this world, at least in our modern world, has got to be - a commemorative Google Doodle.
That would be badass.

To be continued...

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