You know that old phrase, right? How often have you said or thought, or heard someone say something akin to it?
I saw an advert for cheap cremation a few days back. The site offered a short questionnaire to gather last wishes and a way to pay for all of it prior to end of life. That way, things will (ideally) be done the way the person wants it, with little left to others.
I like that idea, since I think my wishes are pretty simple.
Last week marked yet another social display of grief and remembrance for a public figure — Ermias Joseph Asghedom, known in the broader spotlight as Nipsey Hussle. The service came after a couple of weeks or so of memorials at the location where he was killed. The memorial, broadcast on multiple stations and streamed on YouTube, was held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center (where the memorial for Michael Jackson was held in 2009). The area behind the casket was covered in flowers. The former US president (Mr. Obama) sent a letter of condolence that was read. Many personalities, like Snoop Dogg and Minister Louis Farrakhan, spoke. There were singers who ‘performed’ at the event, which lasted just over three hours.
I watched some of it and thought of Ms. Aretha Franklin’s service. It lasted for more than six hours and was the culmination of four days of mourning. Greater Grace Temple (Detroit) was also where Ms. Rosa Parks’ funeral service was held in 2005. Ms. Franklin’s clothes were changed at least three times over the course of that period — all designer dresses, I believe it was said. Her casket was solid bronze and covered in 24-karat gold.
Ms. Franklin did not die suddenly but had been fighting pancreatic cancer. I presume she took the time to stage much of her own service.
Hussle’s memorial and subsequent procession through Crenshaw was organized — according to reports — by family and friends.
So you might be asking, why the extended discussion of other people’s processes?
Because the thing is, if you want it done your way, be sure to do it yourself.
I am not casting dispersion on anyone. It’s just real talk here, from me to you, right? And we’re family, so I can be honest, right?
I struggle with the expense of death, the over-the-top knock-em-out-the-box-Rick send-off. People characterized Hussle as a dude from around the way who carried his cash back to the ‘hood in an effort to help others come up, so that sort of home-going seems a bit out of character, don’t you think? I mean, there is the whole show-off ’til the very end idea, but would he have wanted that? As part of the service, the was a video montage of his visit to family in Eritrea: they seemed like close-knit, ordinary people, who may have been taken aback by the lavishness.
But I could be totally off-base. I’ve encountered people from various African nations who have told me that sending a person off on their Final Ride is often as lavish or more so than a wedding (which is another #RealTalkTuesdays discussion for another time).
As much as I enjoy a good Minister Farrakhan speech, I was sad that his team didn’t maybe highlight his notes so he maintained the correct name throughout his talk.
As someone whose first name (and sometimes last — people do switch around the hyphenated bits) gets jacked up often, I twitched every time the good Minister said ‘Russell’ instead of ‘Hussle’.
Ms. Franklin was on to something by indicating who would and would not get to speak at her affair. Again, no disparaging here, but it’s vital to remember that the speeches should be about the person who’s gone on, maybe the relationship the speaker had to them. It’s not a grand stage for talking about self. I’ll just leave that right there.
Real talk: many of us don’t plan enough. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Heck, the next two minutes aren’t promised. People of certain ages (points at self) often say that ‘things used to be simpler’ — it wasn’t so long ago that there was no online banking, mobile phones, distance work and education, or the monster known as social media. The biggest hurdle some families faced was not knowing the combination to the safe or not knowing where the keys to the safe deposit box were in which Dear Departed kept their will, the house title, and the stamp collection. Or the keys to the ’65 Camaro.
I’m guilty. I have a ton of passwords because of the myriad of sites I am connected to, like this one. I work online, so there’s the work sites themselves as well as email — personal and professional, now that I mention it. I am certainly not worth a lot but have life insurance and a few investments here and there that maybe one day — when my friends’ great-grandchildren (since I doubt my son will have children) are collecting the future’s version of social security — will produce enough of a yield for a cup of coffee. I have a house. I have my beloved monsters (the dogs). I have bills like the electric, gas, water, rubbish, security, internet, mobile phone, and other sundry like lawn service, pest service, streaming services. Others, like student loans, will go away when I do. There are non-service services, like doctors and dentists, not to mention the servicing on the car.
But, I know what I want. I’ve even perused the Willing.com website a few times as well as read about putting together my own will (I had no idea that having an attorney draw up a decent package, with power of attorney, living trust, and all that can cost like a minimum of $1200, but the rationale some have given for going that route is that an attorney in your locale will know the rules of the state or country; the online or self-serve software options often don’t take those differences into account). I already know that I want my ashes tossed in the ocean (not the west one but the east one, you understand, because that’s my ocean … this one is just borrowed).
No fanfare is allowed.
I mean, I’ll be gone, won’t I, so what others do matters not. However, I don’t want a bunch of people standing around, saying nice things because that’s what we do, isn’t it? If need be, I’d prefer people to have a barbecue where they tell the truth — how they really felt. If I was annoying, say so. If my flavor of faith was hard to swallow, say so. Tell a joke. Play some music. Don’t cry a lot. Don’t send or bring flowers — donate to a charity, my church, or the pet shelter. Or all three.
Just don’t spend an arm and a leg for a show and a stone anywhere because I’ll be long gone …