Monday, January 01, 2007

OF WAKES AND FUNERAL PYRES

The cliché goes that there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes.

The Lord knows, together with the dreaded Internal Revenue Service (IRS), that I have had enough trouble with taxes in my lifetime. I am chagrined to admit that at one time, I owed the IRS a six figure amount. I am filled with glee to realize that my death will constitute my final protest to the IRS. It will be my final refusal to be productive, and hence, taxable.

Yes, I have been mulling the reality of my mortality and the details of my funeral arrangements. Here are some scenarios that I have been tossing around.

A VIKING FUNERAL

There is an old movie aptly titled “The Vikings” starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine about a Viking saga. Of course there are the usual battle scenes including a castle siege, but there are several other scenes that stick to my memory.

Ernest Borgnine dies by leaping into a pit full of wolves or dogs, Tony Curtis is punished by having his left hand lopped off with a sword, and Kirk Douglas dies in the end and is buried with full Viking honors. His body is cast adrift in a Viking ship and archers shoot flaming arrows into the boat. As the movie theme song plays plaintively in the background, the boat slowly disappears in the horizon, swathed in flames, the Viking warrior’s spirit rising into the heavens together with the smoke.

Romantic, no? This appealed to my warrior spirit, since I am a martial arts and weapons master. When I broached this to some family members, my little nephew Martin piped up, “Can we just shoot you now with flaming arrows and put you out of your misery?”

A PRIVATE CEREMONY

I have always been alternately peeved and amused when I go to some relatives’ or friends’ funeral, and tons of friends and relatives show up who have not bothered to visit or say hi to the deceased the past years. So why take the effort now to show up at the funeral? Why are you saying goodbye when you never bothered to say hello or how’s it going when he was alive and lucid and probably lonely?

When I die, my funeral will be by invitation only. Only relatives and friends who have stood by me, put up with my idiosyncracies, lent me money and visited and humored me in my old age will receive invitations.

I hope there will be at least enough mourners to push my casket out the church.

A CONCERT BENEFIT

I want a big raucous party with several live bands alternately playing right next to my casket. It will be a concert benefit, with hefty admission charged. Since there will be thousands in attendance, the net proceeds will go to charity.

I would like my son Mike to sing one of those vein-popping, gut-busting unintelligible heavy metal songs he sings at concerts. Some mosh pit dancing would be all right with me, and I would not mind a whirl around the pit myself.

I have already made known some songs I would want sung during this event. This includes the “MASH Theme” from the movie “MASH,” “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses, “Knights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues, “This is My Religion” by REM and “Light My Fire” and “This is the End” by the Doors.

I do not want any sadness and tears and wailing at this event, unless it is Mike’s heavy metal freaks howling a funeral dirge for me, or their reasonable facsimile thereof.

AN ARNIS TRAINING CAMP

My brothers-in-arms in martial arts might probably want to throw a final workout in my memory. After all, I have sponsored many a seminar and training camp under the banner of my organization called Tipunan International (Gathering). I want them to bring their favorite real and training weapons, bang sticks and steel and afterwards bring out the beer and pulutan (finger foods). Here, everybody gets to reminisce about their favorite war stories, of warrior days long gone and past, and of warriors who have preceded them.

In the final analysis, I want to my funeral arrangements to be just like my life—unapologetic, slightly disheveled, mildly chaotic, with some mild glitches here and there, but always full of family and friends, goodwill and joy, laughter and banter, and with a warrior spirit and a bon vivant’s flair.

Ave atque vale. See you in the afterlife.

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