Monday, June 06, 2005

In Memoriam Redux

I have attended very few funerals in my lifetime. My family has a history of long lives and quick deaths. Even when my uncle died from a very protracted bout with lung cancer (two packs a day) we had him cremated and then about a year later went to a cemetery, buried the box of ashes in about five minutes, and then all went to the bar for a drink. A pragmatic, if not touching, ceremony. But with my Irish-Ukrainian mix, that's the way it goes.

The only other family funeral I attended was that of my great aunt Helen who died at 103. She was a strict Catholic so had the full ceremony in a church, which in my family is pretty much unheard of. Keeping my dad in check during the service was a lesson in my powers of persuasion and manipulation (my dad has some strong feelings about the church better left to another entry, or better yet, never to be mentioned again). I guess the funeral was sort of sad, but, hey, she was 103, and lived a long full life which included traveling the world, drinking an exorbitant number of Brandy Alexanders, raising foster kids, and living on her own until she was 100 years old. Not exactly a tragic death.

So when I attended the memorial for my best friend's dad last week I was really not prepared for the emotional wallop that this little service would carry. David Vesey was a real rock n roll hip fellow, and the service reflected as such. There were more leather pants and tattoos then somber black suits, the Ramones and Talking Heads played, campy science fiction films were projected, we ate sundaes, drank cosmos, and, of course, there was bowling.

I guess I have never reflected too much on death, what with the "Oh well, too bad he's gone...... let's go to the movies" attitude epitomized by my family. I grew up with David Vesey--the guy who gave me my first Iggy Pop album and introduced me to the Rocky Horror Show and Clockwork Orange and countless other pop culture milestones of my youth. And to reflect on the impact that someone you knew has made on your life is horrrifyingly sad and bizarrely gratifying simultaneously. I found the whole thing to be strangely inspiring: inspecting a life well-lived has its rewards, I guess.

When I told my dad about it, he sighed and said "Yeah, well, I guess some people like to do that kind of stuff. " Classic.

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