Perfect

I’m watching Samuel Johnson’s emotional appearance on the 7pm Project with lettuce on my Peter Alexanders and tomato on my chin. Chomping at my Subway sandwich, I am engaged in my favourite news programme and tonight they are celebrating the life of Samuel’s sister, Connie. This morning the nation officially said goodbye to a very brave woman who battled cancer most of her life. It appears Samuel is still in the suit he wore at his sister’s funeral as he speaks of her on the panel, proud and grateful for the nation’s support.

I send my love whole heartedly but I was inspired to drop my sandwich and dive to my computer to write when Samuel said something that strikes a chord for me. Tears in his eyes, he says to the panel and the country watching, “The service was perfect. I know it is unusual to say that about a funeral…but it really was.” His words were followed by footage of his sister living life to the fullest.

I personally believe “perfect” is the perfect word to describe the celebration of one’s life. I write this also in the midst of a text conversation I had with my friend literally moments ago. I know you may think the two topics don’t relate, but allow me to explain.

I have a silly photoshoot next week for my website. I would prefer to be tucked away in my study, coffee stains on my desk and tapping away at my keyboard than in front of a camera lens. But, in a high tech society I am forced to develop a website for my book and have glossy images of me posing, smiling, hugging books etc etc. I could not choose between a few dresses I plan to hire, so I sent a few options to my friend via text message. One of the dresses was black lace and very funeral like. I had chosen it because of this, but was unsure. My friend loved this gown, saying it adhered to the death theme of my book and future work.“But I’m trying to stay away from stigma colours. I go on and on in my novel about how the funeral industry isn’t all doom and gloom, and wearing the black dress is going against my message.” I decided to stick with the pastel colours and sparkles.

Moments later, Samuel is on the panel of the 7PM Project saying “perfect” was not a great word choice to describe a funeral.

Blog photo
Connie and her brother Samuel developed the Love Your Sister organisation to raise money and awareness.

The celebration of somebody’s life is just that, a celebration! Yes, it is heart breaking, your body feels like it’s going to fail you as you embark upon the frightening and disabling steps of grief. I have experienced this personally many times, and been there for countless families at their time of need as a funeral director. But, I believe, and this is just me of course, unless the death was due to a murder, suicide or horrific accident, funerals should be a less morbid event. Bring in the doves. Bring in the balloons. Call in the bagpiper! Don’t wear black, why not wear a bright dress or stunning tie? I know it’s not a birthday party, but we are all born and die. Our birth is celebrated annually with cake and presents so perhaps we should start celebrating the end of our lives more brilliantly? I’m not saying reach for the balloons and streamers, but a little less black, a few more hugs and smiles. I think Samuel Johnson has it spot on.

I want a bloody disco ball and buffet at my funeral! Everyone has to wear bright red lipstick and my casket custom made and painted a pastel green.

Connie was a hero. Strong and beautiful and our hearts are indeed broken tonight following her beautiful service. But let’s remember her as a Warrior! Let’s remember that cute smile and brave eyes and start using the word “perfect” a little more.

xo

You can donate to Connie and Sam’s organisation at:

http://www.loveyoursister.org

Discover more of Connie’s amazing journey here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-08/connie-johnsons-long-fight-to-cure-cancer/8849384

 

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DVDs and Legacies

 

‘One day we won’t need to do this!’ my Daddy chuckled as he popped the rented VCR into the player to rewind. Adhering to the video rental store policies, he had a pile of tapes to spin back to the opening scene for the next person who chose to hire them. ‘One day movies will be on discs just like a CD!’

I had just finished a phone call with grandma interstate, using a giant telephone with a long coiled chord. ‘I miss grandma, I sighed, gazing into my scrambled eggs for dinner. ‘I wish we could see faces through the phone when we talk to them.’

Decades later, I am “Face –timing” my sister in North Queensland and Dad is dusting his DVD collection.

One balmy Brisbane evening, I find myself sipping wine and redecorating my living room. Blowing dust off book covers and fluffing my cushions, I remember the well-known sayings: “You can’t take it with you!” and “You don’t want to be the richest one in the cemetery!”

You want to know somethin’? I don’t know a funeral director who doesn’t collect something, from coins to books. We are house -proud and love our guests to visit beautiful, comfortable surroundings. We can’t pop our ceiling-high book collection into our coffin but what we can do is leave them behind as legacy for our loved ones. Our nephews, nieces, children and grandchildren can polish our DVDs when we are gone and remember when movies were played on disc rather than streamed online. They can trace their fingers across ageing book pages and remember us as they dust the mementos from the home we once cared for.

So, no. We can’t take our material belongings with us. But we certainly leave them behind for others to cherish, and if we are blessed to have that eternal love, we will be the richest one in the cemetery after all.