Dave’s funeral was an occasion for both a celebration of his life and something of a family reunion. I’ve heard a lot of others talk about this with a bit of guilt mixed in. Either folks feel bad that it has been so long since they have taken the time to get together, or they are conflicted about having such a good time with each other at a funeral of all things or both.
I was texting with my son, Greg, about this the other night. He was expressing something of this same conflict. He said, “It sucks that a death brings everybody closer, but I’ll take it.” He’s right, it is unfortunate that for some families it is only this ultimate milestone that calls us from wherever life has planted us to recognize what it is we have in common.
But what struck me about my millennial son’s comment was “I’ll take it.” There really are not that many families whose “fun” in their “dysfunction” makes it unpleasant for everyone to come to a funeral. It does happen, but more often there is at least one cousin or brother-in-law or someone who it’s so good to see that, as my son says, “you’ll take it.”
I watched as my son smiled and laughed and even sat for a picture with his favorite cousins as they all got caught up on life. And I wondered what this next generation of what amounts to a clan were talking about. They had all heard enough about their grandfather that by then my guess is that they had moved on to talk about jobs and homes and kids and tattoos and other stuff young adult millennials talk about. I assume that this also included a conversation or two about their own parents.
And what struck me is that outside of my mother-in-law, Esther, Katie and I and my brothers and sisters-in-law are now next in line to bring everyone together at a similar occasion. Although my mother and father and most of my aunts and uncles have died, this realization that I am close to being in the oldest generation of my family was new to me. It’s another one of those transitions or milestones in life that seems to have occurred way too soon.
There are some days I still think of myself as being one of those millennials who is standing around talking about their parents as if they were dinosaurs.
All this put me to thinking what those kids of mine are going to think is important enough to say about me. What are they going to put out for people to see at my funeral? What pictures are going to be on those foam boards or whatever media they are using when it’s their time to tell the story of my life?
And as I’ve been reflecting upon this, what occurs to me is that maybe it is time for me to accept what it means to be in that oldest generation by beginning to share with my kids right now what has been really important to my life. At least then they can make up their own minds if whatever I come up with to tell them is worth showing off at one of those times when everybody gets together. As my son says, “I’ll take that.”
Keep the Faith,