I’m sick. I am writing this from my bed with a thermometer in my mouth. My wife is making chicken soup, I have a fever, and every bodypart hurts. And I mean every bodypart. The good news is, it’s not a constant pain. I only hurt, for example, whenever I move.
We thought it was the flu, but then my wife tested me for COVID and the results came back positive. Although judging by the way I feel right now, we can not rule out bubonic plague.
So anyway, all this got me thinking about my own funeral.
I am not kidding. I have too many friends who have died unexpectedly over the last few years from various maladies, and in many cases, their families had no idea what their final wishes were.
And since I FEEL like I’m dying, I figured I’d take this opportunity to make some final requests.
Please have soft serve ice cream at my funeral. I once wrote a column about a sheriff in Geauga County, Ohio, who wanted ice cream trucks at his funeral, and I think this is a good idea.
Also, I want my wife to know, publicly, that I want to be cremated. I want this for two reasons: (a) cremation is much cheaper than traditional embalming, and (b) you won’t need a permit to light my remains on fire.
Again, I am being serious. I have always wanted my urn placed onto a log raft, constructed of longleaf pines, placed in the Gulf of Mexico, and lit on fire. My childhood Sunday-school teacher, Mrs. Wilkes, always believed I would burn, anyway. So why not.
I know it’s an unusual request, but it’s my funeral.
Before the ceremony, I want everyone to put floral sprays and beautiful objects onto my raft, such as photographs, baseball gloves, cowboy hats, fishing rods, my guitar, and maybe some Atlanta Braves paraphernalia.
Then, I want my cousin’s pontoon to slowly tow my raft into the Gulf, just offshore from my Northwest Florida hometown, and I want someone to liberally douse me in Coleman lighter fluid and strike a match.
Please do not let my uncle Tommy Lee do the honors of lighting the fire. He once used too much lighter fluid at a family barbecue and he was never able to bear children after that.
Also, one of my main funeral requests is: no preaching. I have nothing against preachers, but I wasn’t all that crazy about sermons during my life here on earth, so I don’t want sermons at my funeral. No long winded homilies. No religious offerings.
I simply want my smoke to rise, my flames to glow, and my ashes to sink into the Gulf sand while people just sort of watch from a distance and maybe sing “When We All Get To Heaven.”
Then, I want everyone to play a game of baseball on the beach, which will then be followed by a potluck. And by “everyone”, I mean you, too. Whoever you are.
Yes, you are invited to my funeral. Because you don’t know how much you mean to me.
One of the greatest joys of my life has been writing this column, traveling the U.S. to meet you.
I grew up with few human connections in this world. My family is pitifully small. But thanks to you, that’s not the case anymore. You took an average nobody, and made him feel like an average somebody. I love you for it.
Then I want Willie Nelson and his band to play music at my homegoing, since he’s going to outlive me anyway.
Lastly, if my wife is reading this, I want her to marry again if anything were to ever happen to me.
Jamie, you are the greatest human being I have ever known personally. You have been the greatest part of my life. Your love was meant for sharing, not for hoarding.
Love again. Love hard. Love completely. Someday, whenever my end comes, when I am no more, I will be smiling down upon you, sweetie, from whatever realm I am in. I’ll be with you.
Because you were, are, and will always be the universe to me.
The truth is, we are not two people. Not really. Before the foundations of the earth were poured, I believe God formed one person, then he split that person in two, placed both pieces at random locations on the planet and said, “Okay, kids, go find each other.”
And we did. We found each other. And I’m so grateful we did. I’m so grateful to have been your husband. It was the greatest privilege of my life.
Anyway, I’m going to eat some chicken soup and take a long nap now. I hope I feel better soon.
Someone please tell my uncle Tommy Lee to step away from the lighter fluid.