My Dad passed away many years ago from cancer. But just before he left us he provided me one of my most favorite family stories.
His cancer was inoperable and an attempt at chemotherapy resulted in a stroke. We all knew his time was limited. So late one morning when my sister, whom he lived with and was thankfully his caretaker, called me in tears I was immediately concerned. "Is Dad OK?" I wanted to know.
"Oh, yes, but you wouldn't believe what he did today.
"After the kids left for school he wheeled himself into the kitchen and threw me my car keys." "We're going for a ride." my Dad told her.
"He wouldn't tell me where we were going just gave me directions and finally I realized I was turning into the funeral home parking lot. But that's not unusual, quite of few of Dad's friends are dieing as well.
"But then I noticed there were no other cars. But that's not unusual, you know Dad likes to arrive early.
"But after I wheeled him inside he took over and went to the funeral director."
"Hi, I'm Bill Engelbach. I'm dieing of cancer. Do you give senior citizen discounts?"
At this point I started to laugh which my sister didn't seem to see the humor. I told her to put Dad on the phone.
"Dad!", I chided. "Why didn't you wait until I came up to visit. You should have known that would have upset Sue. But I got to know. What was the funeral director's answer?"
"I didn't want you two to argue about my funeral. And the answer to what?" my Dad must not have been listening in on our conversation.
"Does he give senior citizen discounts?"
"Well, he said he had never been asked that question before. But no, he doesn't. So I had to pay full price. But that's not the worst part." my Dad answered.
"What was the worst part?"
"He told me that I have to pay $50 for the church organist to play at my funeral. I don't want to have HER playing. She's a SHOWBOATER. She plays in church like she'd play at a lounge. And I certainly don't want to PAY $50 for her to play. But the funeral director said she plays at all of the church's funerals and it's customary. I gave in and I figure at least I won't have to hear her that time."
Dad was with us for 6 more months. I heard him tell the story at least twice.
He had arranged to have visitation at the church for one hour before the funeral mass. So when it was time to start the service the priest asked us to take a pew and the organist started the first hymn.
The first line ended in a whole note which everyone held for 4 beats then started singing the next line. But not the organist. She held it for an additional 4 beats as she did every single line. When people realized this you could hear the underlying giggles. It appeared everyone there had heard the story. But at least HE didn't have to hear her playing.
So my Dad kept us laughing, even at his own funeral mass. It was a very fitting service.