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Monday, 12 December 2011


By Joanne Zimmermann

Pushing up the daisies, or being shot off in a fireworks display, we certainly have a variety of new ideas for departing in style.

A friend makes expensive ($5000 and up), one-of-a-kind urns. Another does underwater shells and sea items that are becoming quite popular. Now we can consider revisiting via emails and radio waves to scare the living. Mom can even be divided up among her eight kids in little jewelry pieces.

Whatever we choose, it can be our final, most creative project.

I still have my husband’s ashes here at home on his desk so he can look out on our beautiful yard. I talk to him often, especially when things seem to go wrong! He was a true believer, and it is amazing how often things get all worked out. His funeral was really something and I know he would have just loved it.

He was German and sang with a Bavarian band, mostly at Oktoberfest times. He had CDs of his songs so at his passing, I met with two pastors who each were going to have a part. The senior one was formal and stiff, the other very fun loving.

The fun loving one said, “Well, fun is really part of the word funeral. We could put out a sign saying Fun Funerals by Pastor John.” After the laughter, it was set.

My husband also made a little wooden instrument with three hammers and tambourine jingles. The middle one was fixed and it kept time with marches and polkas. Even kids loved to play the klakkers. All 12 of the men’s group had one.


When the family marched down the aisle after all had been seated and I saw the tears streaming down, they quickly faded and some smiles appeared as my husband sang, Beer Barrel Polka. Those who had klakkers just klakked along. I had convinced the senior pastor that it was not a drinking song, but a rally song, ending with “the gang’s all here.”

The band members slipped in the back and accompanied with trumpet and sax and accordion.

The middle part of the ceremony was more serious with the senior pastor reading in German a poem sent by my husband’s niece. Then the fun pastor told of trips to the island of Eleuthera where the men’s group had gone several times to build a church there. He reported that my husband always went off to the end of the beach to swim and he winked knowingly about that. Then the 12 men gave a 12 klakker salute!

Several friends gave eulogies and the service ended with my husband singing When the Saints go Marching In and doing his best rendition of Satchmo. At the same time, a service was held for him on the island of Eleuthera. How cool is that!

Afterward, several people remarked that they would love to have a funeral just like that. A neighbor couple from France and Myanmar thanked me for inviting them. They said that now they knew what an American funeral was like. Ahhh hmmm?

All I know is he was smiling down through the entire thing.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting..]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I applaud you. The best and most meaningful memorial services are ones that truly celebrate the life of the honoree. You certainly did that!

Joanne - Great FUNeral! I wish I was there. (I felt I was through your wonderful words.)

I am glad you have a solid reason for keeping your late husband on his desk, looking out the window. I have a procrastinator cousin who has yet to deal with several loved ones. On her mantelpiece, there are containers with the ashes of 3 dogs, 2 sheep, a horse, in addition to her late husband (a source of considerable friction with her children and in-laws), and her mother (a source of much friction with her 2 brothers.) - Sandy

What a marvelus story. If more people would think outside the box life would be better off. You have really done something worthwhile while giving a lot of smiles from many people. Even pets would atteach themselves to this.

Your husband's funeral will be one that the attendees remember. It sounds like you recreated his spirit with the gifts of music and other reminders of the enjoyments that were part of his life as he shared them with the world. You have described an event that will help him live on through memories of those he left behind. Thank you for sharing the wonderful story.
Michigan Grandma

What joy for friends and family to have one's husband sing and entertain at his own funeral.It must have been a tear jerker yet one filled with laughter. Thanks for telling us all.

Loved it, the best funeral services I have attended have been real events with shared memories and lots of laughing and even some music at my Aunt Kate's..Life is to live and having to say good bye to loved ones and even pets is sad enough without adding some laughter, some music, some tears for sure, but sharing feelings with others who will miss the departed too...great send-off as they say in the heavens..thanks for including us...

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