Still thinking about my grandfather this week, I remember that sometimes we’d all watch reruns of “The Lawrence Welk Show” on KAMU-TV together, when I was a youngster. I’ll confess that I wasn’t glued to the set the entire hour, but I did like the show’s closing theme because of all the languages that the singers said “goodnight.” Remember? It had the phrase, “Adios, Au Revior, Aufweidersehn” in it. Perhaps that one song stayed with me all these years because the lyrics also said, “Until we meet again.”
In the faith construct that generations of our family raised us all, there is an “again” for all of us, on the other side of “here,” and I believe this is not “all there is” in life. Other people have different views and I respect them for having them. One thing we can all agree on, though, is that there is always, always going to be a beginning of life and an end of life. How do we say goodbye, or “Goodnight for now”?
Remember “The Sound of Music”? Recall the Von Trapp family children had a singing ritual of saying “Goodnight”? Like “The Lawrence Welk Show,” it was unforgettable. People we love are also memorable. What was your great-grandmother’s favorite song? What song did your parents or grandparents consider “Their Song”? Have they told you? Have you asked them? That question can sometimes lead to a discussion of “what music would you like to have your loved ones hear when they gather to celebrate your life’s journey”?
A time to gather and to reminisce about what was important to our loved one, now lost, is so valuable that we often miss out on having that time when a family member says, “Now, I don’t want any kind of fuss made over me.” And yes, that’s what you may suggest, but what will those left here want to do in remembrance of your life?”
A gathering can be an informal visitation before a funeral. It’s valuable because friends can come and pay their respects to those you have left here, missing you. A meal can be shared, along with memories, as folks sit and reflect on their good days together. Sharing that precious time together in a visitation can be a final gift you leave that will be remembered for years to come.
How many songs can you think of that have “Goodbye” in the title? I can think of a few that I heard growing up. Starting with Lawrence Welk’s “Goodbye Song”
Doesn’t that clip bring back memories? Can you remember where you were when this show was on? Did you and your mother or father, grandparents or friends enjoy watching “Lawrence Welk?” It’s amazing what music can do to bring back pleasant memories of times shared together.
Here’s another favorite way to say “goodbye” from the von Trapp family:
You see, saying goodbye isn’t so hard sometimes. It’s only “goodbye for now,” or “goodbye until next week, or “Until we meet again.”
Music has a way of surpassing our need for words at times. Songs say so much to us, and they say so much for us. They help us remember the person we love, using a medium that they loved, to bring back visual memories of happier days in the past.
Think about the last person whose funeral visitation you attended. When you were reminiscing, did you talk about the kind of music that they loved to play on the radio in their automobile or truck as they drove? Did you discuss the kinds of concerts they were happy to attend? What music was playing in their home the last time you saw them?
At those times and in those places where you try hard to remember one you love, that’s what the value is for people gathering together to reminisce. There are times when you wrack your brain to remember what was important to that person, because you want to pick everything for the funeral service that they liked, that was important to them. And for a moment, you can’t recall a thing. Until just one person says, “I remember….”
No matter whether you want a cremation for your loved one or whether you would like a military funeral with full honors, start thinking now about what you want to hear in the music that is sung or played as people gather to remember you. Write it down, maybe in the family Bible, or on a piece of paper in a folder where you keep your notes.
Finally, be prepared to be flexible. One of the dearest ladies in town is over 100 years old right now, and she’s had her funeral service planned out for the past 50 years. Sounds humorous, but she was entirely serious about it. She said, “I have a list of all the preachers, in order, who I want to preach at my funeral. Right now, I’ve outlived three of them, so I just keep scratching them off the list, one by one, and I realize I have to start adding a few names as backup. She has the right idea. Plan, but be flexible. But above all, plan.
When a person’s life has made an impact on us, we must come together if only one time, in order to say a proper “farewell.” There is, after all, value in visitation, in a gathering of love for those left behind.
Cody D. Jones ’02
Owner and Community Member