Keeping the Best You in Eulogy
I recently enjoyed a visit with college girlfriends last November in Texas, serendipitously wedged between Delta and Omicron surges. Not only that, we experienced a rare ‘crisp weather window,’ when Texans joyfully dust off their sweatshirts and celebrate Three-Day
These reunions occur more frequently as we embrace empty-nesterhood. We currently occupy that happy place between schedules once dominated by baseball tournaments and dance recital, and those subsumed by ailments and operations. Although we recently lost one of the flock to (expletive deleted) pancreatic cancer, we’re not yet controlled by the ominous thought that each reunion could be our last. Acutely aware that life can certainly throw crappy curveballs, the odds of enjoying many more good years ahead remain in our favor.
Naturally, we reminisced in great detail about the tragic fate of our friend Mitzi, discussing her valiant fight, her last wishes and her Celebration of Life. It was here that I made my longtime friends an unusual promise. In fact, I hoped we could all make this promise to one another: No embarrassing stories at your Celebration of Life, in front of the offspring, co-workers and neighbors. Terms of Agreement: these campfire tales can still be told, but later, intimately – to the core group only. Never with a microphone in one hand and a glass of Prosecco in the other.
Reflect on your personal classics, your Hit Parade of naughty high school and collegiate anecdotes. Only those who were cast members are going to laugh. Okay, MAYBE if you have the comedic timing of Stephen Colbert or Amy Poehler, perhaps there’s potential. But even the world’s most famous comedians had jokes bomb, plenty of times. Think back to the last time you attended a rehearsal dinner, and one blabbermouth in the wedding party stands up to tell a “funny story” containing the three most cringeworthy words in the English language: Wet T-shirt Contest. Crickets! If there’s any laughter at all, it’s a smattering of the nervous variety, to mask grandma’s awkward silence.
And consider the deceased. Let them cross over in peace, rather than straining over the impending public rehash of foolhardy teenage escapades. Broadcast to an audience that actually respects this person, now that they finally achieved “adulting.”
“But what if I still want to give a tribute?” you ask. “All that Toastmasters gone to waste?”
I’m not Debbie Downer saying “no tributes.” I’m simply proposing a litmus test: anything that happened after three drinks or involved police, nudity or a toilet should never be presented to a crowd of mourners. Oddly, it’s the innocent, silly stories that are home runs.
Like the time they took a date to a baked potato restaurant – wildly popular in the 80s. As was dating. There they lost the cap on their front tooth, which dropped into the potato, mid-bite. Skip the low-hanging fruit. Delight the kids and comfort the elderly.
Here’s hoping this strategy works. If not, my fallback plan is simply to remain the last one standing and control the narrative. Pass the kale.
Mimi Bommarito can be reached at email@example.com