I’ll bet that title grabbed your attention, didn’t it?
This week’s column is all about that thing we all love to talk about from time to time, DEATH.
Just kidding. Well, technically, not really.
In my view, we take the topic of death far too seriously. Now, of course it’s a serious topic to begin with, but does it absolutely have to be THAT serious ALL the time?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m here to “put the FUN back in FUNeral” or anything like that, but I do think there’s a monotonous, almost-depressing ritual that plays out when the rest of us living folks are conducting ourselves in the event of someone’s passing.
The atmosphere is pretty much the same: everything is so somber, everyone is talking in hushed tones, everyone’s afraid to smile or laugh, and black is the preferred color when choosing one’s wardrobe.
That pretty much sums up every funeral I’ve ever been to. And then there’s the *other* thing that isn’t quite a funeral in the formal sense, but rather a “celebration of life”. I’ll tell ya, the last thing that most of these occasions end up feeling like is a celebration; no one ever wants to take the open mic to say a few words, we’re all just sitting around eating free food that someone else paid for, and half the people in the room are waiting to go outside for a smoke.
Yup, real humdinger of a celebration.
I like to think that my father’s funeral service came off differently than most and that it wasn’t an overly-somber or sad affair. Jack died on a Monday, and we were celebrating JR and his impact on our world by that Friday. The service was held in the Conquest rink, a building that, along with many other local men, was forged by Jack’s own hands. Luckily, it was a “sellout crowd” by the time we Ruttles walked inside to take our seats at the front, so my family and I were glad to see that Dad was able to draw one last full house to send him off. If this were the boxing world, it’d be like Muhammad Ali selling out Madison Square Garden one more time.
It was sad, but it just didn’t feel overly sad, know what I mean? The tears had been shed – buckets of them – and it was now just time to reflect on the man who made such an indelible mark on everyone.
Hopefully, my own demise is still a lifetime from now, but as far as any final wishes go, here’s what I came up with…
In the immediate aftermath of my death, which I can only hope will come as the end result of some heroic act such as saving kittens from a burning building, or perhaps protecting a family of campers from a grizzly armed with an assault rifle due to its grammatically-confusing, right-wing belief that "even a bear can bear arms", my family and friends will soon be informed that I've designated a tidy sum of money to cover the bar tab.
This tab will cover a round of shots for the entire bar, as well as a few refills of whatever beverage you choose to consume. As far as food goes, you’re on your own. I’m buying my friends and family a final few drinks, not overpriced plates of hot wings because you couldn’t be bothered to eat beforehand.
I may also arrange for some very attractive women - a redhead, a blonde and a brunette; in other words, "one of each" for those who prefer less-finite details - to stand above my casket/urn and cry out in anger at my demise in full view of everyone. My hope is that at least one total stranger makes a comment about my prowess with the opposite sex, and that my leaving this earth has utterly devastated them.
From there, out at the cemetery, my wish is to have someone posing as an old-timer boxing referee stand over my grave counting to ten, with a dramatic pause for effect at the count of seven in the faint hope that I make a staggering comeback. When I don't make it out of the ground for another round, my best friends will be instructed to throw a towel on my headstone, where it is to remain until the wind sees fit to carry it off.
My funeral, celebration of life, party that we’re not calling a party because someone’s dead for God’s sake, whatever you want to call it, will not be an overly-somber affair because I’m not an overly-somber person.
You can regard this as a humorous take on funerals and the afterlife, but I assure you that I intend to use my passing to hopefully be funny, sarcastic, emotional (but not too much) and definitely one of a kind, traits that I hope I've carried in my time on this earth.
In the end, shouldn't these things help represent the person you're all supposed to be there for in the first place?
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.