When our mother passed on, and it was just the four of us. I made the comment that “Then There Were Four.” I likely derived that phrase from a samurai movie, a cowboy western, or the Genesis album.
In mid April, my sisters Kathy and Pam and I flew to Euless, Texas for our Brother David’s birthday. For the last five years, he had ongoing back issues, multiple surgeries with complications, and chronic pain.
Though he was in a wheel chair after the last incident, he was in great spirits and hopeful. It was a good visit. We made our family photo of the four of us, as we always do.
Then on May 17th, Pam called me and said David is gone. Even though knowing he was fragile and healing, I didn’t expect it. I always said that as stubborn as he was, he’d out live us all. I was angry at him, mad, and sad.
We held his service in Texas, his close friends attended, we played Irish Folk songs after, and believe he would have been very happy with the service. Knowing David, we were not concerned with his afterlife well being.
As we were driving in silence and thought, Pam said, “And Then There Were Three.”
The reminder that we are in the death cycle of life was sobering. It was just yesterday that we finished school, got married, started families, and were in the life expansion cycle. So quickly life goes by. The body may show it while the mind resists the thought.
As we went thru the arrangements process, we made decisions that would have been easier for our brother to make. I made mental notes of what would make the survivor’s job easier.
A pre-planning check list might look like this:
-People to contact with phone and email.
-Where you want your service?
-Who to preside it?
-Casket or urn?
-Do you want a photo slide show and favorite photos for display? Put them on a thumb drive.
-What music do you want at the service? Add to the thumb drive.
-Do you have final thoughts? Write it up. Add to the thumb drive.
-Is there an after service celebration? Is there music? A band?
It’s your last party, so plan it well. And of course, be sure your family knows where the final instructions are.
As we heard from friends from early years to current, there were a couple of repeating themes –
“we were best friends at a time in life….and didn’t keep in touch” and “I was thinking about David and was going to call him.”
On the Tuesday I returned, I received an email with the 5 biggest death bed regrets.
#4 on the list was staying in touch with old friends. High school and college were a long time ago. The many jobs and businesses where connections were made seem far away. Staying connected takes effort.
It seems trite I know, but new friends are gold, and old friends are priceless.
Do you have you a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time? Right now is a good time to connect.
We found a letter from David’s Italian friend, Valario. He addressed it to the “Lost King of Ireland.” David grew up in Ashville and always considered himself an “Irish Mountain Man.” I have part of his ashes which I will scatter to the wind on Shining Rock and Cold Mountain on the upcoming trip. He’ll be smiling.
PS – Do you have favorite songs that you would like played at your service? Let me know at Jim@Chapelboro.com and I’ll share them with readers.