Last week I attended my Uncle Dominic’s funeral. It was an all-day affair: Mass of Christian Burial, gravesite rite, party with good Italian food and open bar at Portabello’s Restaurant in Kennett Square.
I did the second reading at his Mass. This took place in St. Patrick’s in Kennett, the very church where Uncle Dominic had stood up for me as godfather at my baptism 72 years earlier. He left instructions as to hymns to be used, and he also left instructions that “If I have ever hurt anyone, I ask for their forgiveness.” He was a class act. I drank a martini with three olives in his honor — martinis were his drink, and many of his mourners celebrated his life with this drink, in any number of variations. My.. nephew Ernie tended bar for the funeral party. I caught up with cousins and family members from the Italian side of my family — my father’s side, as Dominic was his youngest brother — and afterwards Marguerite, Sue and I stopped by at Cousin Maria’s to see her beautiful downsized new place, right next door to the house on Cypress where she lived with Uncle Luigi and Aunt Antoinette when they all came from Italy in 1956, when I was six years old.
Around the same time as Uncle Dominic’s death, Bill’s sister Gerry and my friend and fellow Pious Lady Diane Naylor both were hospitalized and then released not back to their homes but to a rehabilitation facility. Both close friends hope to eventually return home, but health concerns make it far from a slam dunk for either. Elizabeth Martelli, another close friend, had back surgery and was sent home where she is recuperating beautifully. Marguerite, Elizabeth and I spent three days at her beach house in Wildwood Crest. The surprising and unpleasant experiences of aging and getting closer to natural death were a frequent topic of conversation. We all suspect that this stage of life astonishes each generation in turn as they enter it. None of us thinks much about aging when we are young, and by the time it happens we tend to view it with great surprise, as if somebody was playing a trick on us.
So I have death on my mind. It is always on my mind these days, although I also am living a vital life with a multiplicity of engrossing activities, creative and interpersonal.
A couple of years ago I started putting together a funeral reception music mix. I misplaced it in my tangle of digital detritus. So I think I’ll start another, and store it here in my blog.
My original thought was to have a boombox available at the gravesite, and begin the mix tape after the Catholic rite is over. As folks were moving past my coffin and back to their cars, I wanted to have Queen’s song “Fat-Bottomed Girls” blasting out. It seems a fitting valediction to my life.
Let’s start the mix. In no order following the lead-off by Queen, these are the songs I’d like to be played at my funeral party. I think I’d like to leave money for a nice party with an open bar like Uncle Dominic did, also.
Queen. Fat-Bottomed Girls
Carly Simon. Two Little Sisters
Puccini. Musetta’s Waltz, La Bohème
Bob Dylan. Tweeter and the Monkeyman
Johnny Mathis. Wonderful, Wonderful
Bonnie Tyler. Holding Out for a Hero
Zoe Mulford. My Aunt Maxine
Okay, that’s a start. There are plenty more. I’ll take it up later.