Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why Not In the Living Years?

The human species is a peculiar breed. From all that I have observed in my little corner of the world, and in my own life and times, earthlings typically assign extraordinary value to attending wakes and funerals, but not especially high value in visiting, and spending quality time with the dearly departed during the all-important living years.

So many of us drop what we are doing, and sometimes travel great distances, to pay our respects to the grieving families of old friends and relatives, many of whom we haven’t seen in a dog’s age, or even longer than that. And quite often it’s a real friend from the past reposing in that pine box, or a close relation from days gone by. We can't, therefore, miss these celebrations of lives lived—these fond farewells—for anything in the world.

But, may I humbly pose this question: Where the heck have you been in the last ten, twenty, and thirty years? Come hell or high water, you can make it to a wake or funeral service, but you just couldn't find the time, or generate sufficient desire, to call upon the genuine article over the last quarter of a century.

Okay, by all means, check out those easels scattered about the hallowed rooms of the funeral parlors—complex lifetimes reduced to cheery photo storyboards thrown together in a couple of days at best. Then kneel before the formaldehyde-filled Madame Tussauds wax figures of those you remembered as flesh and blood. That’s all well and good.

Really, though, you could have visited these stiffs a time or two in the not-too-distant past. Yes, I know you must attend these wakes or funeral services, lest you get on somebody’s shit list. We are a wacky bunch with wacky priorities. But if there is a moral to this story, it’s this: If you know someone whom you would absolutely attend his or her funeral, maybe now’s the time to organize a get-together, or at least place a phone call. Stay in touch when it actually counts for something. The Last Picture Show can wait.

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