Honey keeps giving me funeral notes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2013

Many years ago, Honey had some pretty serious surgery.

Mind you, neither of us knew the surgery was serious until we got to the hospital. He had left the surgeon’s office saying brightly, “I’ve gotta have a little operation on my leg.”

He was partially right. He did have a blockage in the femoral artery. But he forgot to mention he also had a blockage in his descending aorta, and that a surgeon was planning to basically cut him in half to repair it

I was in my 20s, had been married three or four months and barely knew his family. When the doctor explained to me what was about to happen, I literally had to hold on to the wall to keep from fainting. All I could think was, “If he dies in surgery, I don’t even know how to have a funeral.”

Years later, I (thankfully) still don’t know how to have a funeral. But I have gotten lots of instructions in the past 20 years, and seen some fine examples of what not to do.

A few months ago, I attended an Alabama football-themed funeral, complete with ‘Bama shirts, a red casket, and the “Yea, Alabama,” fight song. It was an appropriate tribute to the deceased, even though, to my knowledge, he’d never stepped a foot on campus. My very-Auburn brother leaned over and said, “I wish I’d recorded this, because nobody is going to believe it.” Nobody sent us the T-shirt memo: We both wore suits.

The service got others thinking, too. Because on the way to the cemetery, Daddy had a few notes for us.

“If y’all have a service for me, I don’t want any of that canned music,” he said. He didn’t say it, but I’m guessing he also doesn’t want a slide show or a customized tribute candle, either. He did mention we were not to choose a theme.

Then, there are the instructions of what to do.

“I need to talk to you,” Honey said firmly one afternoon when I walked into his restaurant. “Sit down.”

“Uh-oh,” I thought. In Honey-speak, that could mean he was locking the restaurant doors the next day, or simply that he needed me to bake four cheesecakes that night. Neither guess was right.

“I need to talk to you about my funeral,” he said.

“Are you planning to have it any time soon?” I asked.

Nope. But he had very specific ideas. I was to have him cremated, take his remains with me to New Orleans, and invite his friends out to a fine dinner at one of his favorite restaurants. Have drinks, appetizers, dinner and dessert, he said. “Take my ashes and talk about me.”

Would this be Dutch treat, or was I paying, I asked.

“Oh, you can charge it to my credit card,” he said. Except that that’d be illegal if he were dead, but I guess it wouldn’t be his concern.