News conferences, state dinners, ribbon-cutting, photo ops…political leaders spend an inordinate amount of time stage-managing ceremonies intended to commemorate their successes.
Small wonder, since they wouldn’t have ventured into the business of pressing flesh and begging for votes unless they were eager for attention. Yet their day-to-day activities pale in comparison to how much effort they put into planning their last rites.
Take John McCain. He spent a full 8 months designing an elaborate ceremony to honor…John McCain.
As the New York Times reported, “He obsessed over the music…choreographed the movement of his coffin from Arizona, his home state, to Washington. And…began reaching out to Republicans, Democrats and even a Russian dissident with requests that they deliver eulogies and serve as pallbearers.”
Now we don’t want to cast aspersion on John McCain’s motives for this four-day tribute to John McCain. He was a war hero and served the people of Arizona for much of his time on earth. And there is the thumb in the eye his ceremony is intended to administer to the current president. (We can only imagine the services Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are planning for themselves.)
The question is, why should a grandiose spectacle be reserved only for those who spend their lives courting the limelight? Over-the-top memorials need not be the sole provenance of movie actors, senators, and members of the Catholic archdiocese. The unsung heroes of this country deserve special treatment as well. (Our definition of “hero” being anyone who puts up with various attention-seekers while going about the business of surviving this current age of unreason. Namely, all of us!)
So we encourage you to begin planning your personal requiem now. Start putting aside a few bucks every week earmarked for “My Send-off.” Begin writing a set of instructions for your big day — or days — that specifies what you’d like to have occur. Fireworks, tap-dancing, power boat races: It’s all fair game. Swap these instructions with your best friend. Whichever of you goes first, the other will circle the wagons (loaded with plenty of food and beverages, since you’ll want to attract a crowd beyond mourners who actually know you).
Research the rules in your community for throwing a parade where your remains are the main attraction. A brass band helps attract attention; an ice cream truck is also a nice touch. The parade need not stretch for miles; you can just have your pals walk your body up and down the street in front of your apartment.
As for the coffin, why settle for the standard rectangular box? Better to be carried aloft in something that really represents your life. Have a custom wood-worker come up with something shaped like an airplane (if you’re a pilot) or a fish (if you’re an angler). A life-sized Gibson Les Paul with starburst finish? Why not?
You may find that once you start planning this great event, you won’t want to miss it by being deceased. So don’t wait! Have your funeral in advance, while you’re still alive to enjoy it. “Playing dead” is way more fun than being dead. At least, that’s what the ghosts in our life have told us.
*Don’t forget to give your loved ones something to remember you by. In South Korea, many opt to compress their remains into gem-like beads which are then colorfully displayed at home.