In a Cajun funeral one’s family and close friends form the First Line and send him/her off with a procession dancing to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Homilies are recited, personal remembrances are told, and a sad time becomes a good time. Although neither Cajun nor Creole, I was honored with a rousing send off from my close friends and even closer family on Saturday, August 16, 2014. We had my funeral at JPeg Ranch and I immensely enjoyed it. It was also nice to hear what was said and sung.
One of my friends, Randy Pease who is a fine guitar player and song writer, wrote and performed “The Ballad of Jim Redwine”. Another friend, D. Neil Harris who is a judge in Mississippi and a professional trombone player, sent a video of himself playing a fine rendition of “Saints” while he whirled a Hula-Hoop.
The entire First Line of about 130 family and friends marched around our barn singing and swaying. Limericks, poems, testimonials and stories of past glories (or not) were shared as I, the Dearly Not Departed, listened carefully.
This greatly satisfying event came to mind yesterday as my sister, two sisters-in-law, two brothers and, of course, Peg, met with the Reverend Mr. Ken Woodham who wisely leads and carefully guides the combined congregations of the Pawhuska, Oklahoma First Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ churches.
Ken and the Church Board have the unenviable task of overseeing the inevitable “funeral” of the marvelous old and declining building that housed the First Christian (Disciples of Christ) congregation for almost 100 years. Countless important events such as weddings, funerals and baptisms took place in those hallowed halls. My own baptism occurred there September 9, 1951, and my siblings and I saw off our beloved parents there. Our lives and that building have progressed happily together.
Much as my own funeral, what Peg calls my Fun-er-al, was a celebration of many lives, the Church Board has wisely determined the “funeral” for the brick and mortar part of our church will be a celebration. All members, past and present, are invited to preserve mementos such as stained-glass windows, pews and tables. No charge will be made and no contributions are required. Of course, my memory of the fine people who have served this house of love and respect leads me to suspect voluntary offerings will be forthcoming. As to the real church, i.e., the people who have graced this structure that now deserves a respectful goodbye, they will live on in both memory and current service.
You might wonder about my physical well-being or perhaps my mental health. My self-diagnosis is both were good in 2014 and remain so. Of course, other opinions may live on. If you should think me and Peg just a little left of plumb for holding my life celebration a little early or if you question the Church Board’s send off of the old building with love instead of a garage sale, I respectfully suggest life’s best work and best times occur when we are just a little crazy.