marching saints

marching saints

i read the newspaper every morning. sit in bed next to my dog bitsey & sip hot coffee. the crazy stuff in there blows my mind. did you know there was this man who lived with his mom in this teeny-tiny town, came home to find her dead of natural causes, then went around town with a rifle & killed 6 of his cousins?

like the bates hotel meets american sniper or something…

i also saw an article about the “brisket bandit ” who loads his grocery basket full of beef in the HEB meat department while his old lady waits out front in a yellow, souped-up buick le sabre. there was also one about someone’s jumbo meat-smoker being ripped-off. wonder if anyone made the connection but me.

i read the obits every morning, too. some of them tear your heart out, & maybe it sounds backwards, but some of them make me feel happy — like the ones where a woman lived to be 100 & her photo is of her at age 19. i really love those —  whether they chose the photo themselves, or someone else chose it for them, either way, it’s how they’ll be remembered & i think that’s nice.

maybe that’s why i tuck them away inside my bedside drawer. when i look at them someday, let’s just say that i look forward to remembering them when i do.

you know those obits that are 9 miles long & take up 3 columns that include a huge list of the person’s career & education accomplishments? this might  be strange to mention, but it always goes through my mind how difficult & time-consuming they must’ve been to write. the ones that list the prominent social clubs & country clubs a person belonged to always make me cringe.

hey, maybe it’s just me, but do you think it’s weird when people put happy birthday messages to their deceased loved ones in the obits? as if that’s where the person’s going to be looking, or something?

lots of people write their own obits. i bet you’ve known someone like that. completely obsessed with it — & i’m not saying that’s a bad thing. they just want to leave a precise record of the important things they did while they were on earth.

i wonder if right before they took their last breath, they’d scratch it all out & start over. to tell the things that were really important.

i remember when my father died. i drove down the highway as fast as i could. found my mother & my dad’s sister sitting at the kitchen table working on his piece for the newspaper.

i gave it a look. very short. i remember thinking, that’s all my dad’s worth — a short couple of paragraphs, when there’s so much more to say about this man i worshipped?  i spoke up, & said, don’t you want to put something in there about him that’s personal? who answered, my mom or my aunt, i really can’t recall, but, “people who really knew him already know those things,” is what i heard.

i didn’t like that answer much, but maybe when it’s my time to bury my husband or my brother, God forbid, i’ll have a different perspective than i did that day, i don’t know, but i remember telling my mother something really important. something my dad had told me years & years before.

“what do you want your funeral to be like, daddy?” strange question, i guess, but i really wanted to know.

there was a friend of his who had one of those big, beautiful baritone voices. mike sargent, was his name. my dad said he wanted the man to sing, “when the saints go marching in.”

i think that’s really beautiful, don’t you?

mr. sargent predeceased my dad, so, to close the service, the whole congregation belted it out  instead.

Oh when the Saints go marching in
When the Saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

the organist was really getting into it — cranking it up & adlibbing some jazzy riffs.

what an incredible send-off for my dad. zippy & upbeat. the tears became tears of joy.

if i know my dad, & i do, he was smiling. & laughing, too, i’ll bet.

how in the world did i get off on all of that? i’m writing about the brisket bandit, & next thing you know, i’m writing about a funeral.

doesn’t matter, i guess. but, if you want to steal my dad’s idea, go right ahead.

me, i’ve already put in my order — it’s what i want my friends & family to be singing at mine.

TTFN    ta-ta for now.

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