Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Dark Side of Sod...2

John had an ice cream business where he drove a truck through the neighborhood delivering cool treats to the kids for a number of years. He was a great guy, and his business expanded to the point where he became very successful. He raised two daughters and a son and had a long happy life. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 85.

Although the family was saddened by John's passing, they had talked with him at great length about what his wishes were regarding his funeral. All the details of his service were carefully outlined and the funeral home had John's information on file for a number of years.  John had written his own obituary, with the only part of the arrangements not completed was the death date on his stone at the cemetery. Which he thought was funny..."you mean I have to die first?" he always said.

John never got rid of the ice cream truck. It was a wonderful reminder of memorable times in his life. After his passing, the family met at the funeral home to put the plan in motion. Since arrangements were made previously, John's biographical information was confirmed and the funeral home took his obituary he had written and put it in a format for the local paper.

John always marched to the beat of a different drummer and his funeral was no exception. In fact, he referred to his funeral as the "send off of the century". He wanted to leave a legacy where everyone understood how much he appreciated his life and loved his family. He did not want his surviving family and friends to dwell on this passing, but celebrate the memories and experiences they had with him.

Because he loved living  life to the fullest everyday. The eulogy was written by John and read by his son who told some of John's favorite knock knock jokes. His grandchildren read letters they wrote him, and placed them in the casket. John had taken his favorite team sweatshirt and a pair of pants with his undergarments to the funeral home for safe keeping so the family would not have to make those decisions or worry about gathering his things at a time that would be difficult. Frank Sinatra's song "That's Life" was played as the casket was being put in the hearse.

His grandchildren served as pall bearers. He wanted to be buried in a family plot in a country cemetery next to his parents and wife. It seemed only fitting to him that the ice cream truck he kept all those years, would lead the procession to the cemetery after the service. Once the procession arrived at the cemetery,  the minister closed the service, everyone was given ice cream.

There was also an invitation for a family gathering at the neighborhood park was extended to everyone in attendance. Johns favorite food was hamburgers on the grill, and that's what they had. John's celebration was a perfect way to celebrate the life he lived. In many ways, John orchestrated his celebration from the grave. People still talk about how special it was.