Eating a dirt sandwich. Taking a dirt nap. Buying a one-way ticket to the marble orchard.
I don’t know what put me in this mood, but I’ve been reflecting on mortality more than usual lately. Maybe it’s because last Wednesday was the anniversary of my father’s death. Maybe it’s because it’s been a year of losing folks I once saw as, if not indestructible, at least ageless.
I hope I have as much bravado and selflessness as Bubba Free, whose last words to his wife as she was getting ready to take him to the hospital were: “That’s okay; don’t worry about it.”  And surely I would want to host a party, or failing that, at least buy a last round, like Dr. Jack Fakoury.
    I guess ultimately, if I were to bop off tomorrow, I would want everyone to have fun and remember the good times. Tell jokes. Eat, drink, and be merry. I don’t want any crying, caterwauling, or any such hysterics. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t even need to stick me in a box or an urn – as the Outlaw Josey Wales said, “Worms got to eat, same as the buzzards.”
     I have never really understood the fascination we all have with death, but it certainly is part of human nature. From the pyramids of Egypt – possibly the first time in history someone tried to hook up a U-Haul to a hearse – to today’s many options for final dispositions, a part of us is all about the send-off.
     No one does emotional remembrance like the military. From the flyovers to the gun salutes, one can easily get swept away in the pageantry and the accompanying emotional floodgate opening.
     On the other had, I’ve always maintained that laughter is the best medicine for everything, including a funeral. After all, doesn’t the word start with the letters “F-U-N”?
     I mean, if you’ve ever seen footage from the late, great Graham Chapman’s funeral, you know what I mean. Chapman was a founding member of the great British comedy troupe, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Even now, they work him in on live shows with running gags about dropping his urn and having to get up his ashes with a dust buster.
     A good friend of mine, now back home from his eighth combat deployment in the Middle East, told a pretty funny story about one of his first duty assignments years ago, when he first joined the Navy. Apparently, he had honor guard duty, which among other things would serve as honor guard at veterans’ funerals. Once, he said, he was standing on the jack, preparing to fold the flag on the casket to present to the widow, when all of a sudden he heard a strange but unmistakable crackling sound. The next thing he knew, the jack had collapsed and he, the flag, and the guest of honor and his velvet-lined Cadillac were down the hole.
      My dad, in his day the King of the One-Liner, once got off a classic as we were leaving graveside services for a friend of the family. As I recall, it was a crisp, cool day – early autumn, perhaps – and the groundskeepers had been out earlier raking leaves and burning them. As we passed the remains of a pile of burning yard debris, Dad glanced at it, then looked at us, an impish twinkle in his eye.
     “Anybody we know?” he said, pointing to the smoldering pile of ash.
     Of course, another friend has written his sentiments as to what to do with him when the journey is over in a song on one of his fairly recent CDs. I won’t go into it here, but you can certainly check the discography of one “Laid Back” Larry Shirah – you’ll probably recognize it right off.
     In the meantime, here’s hoping this is a party I don’t host for many years. But make no mistake, when it’s time, it’s going to be party time.