She wanted to die doing something she loved. And she loved hiking in beautiful places. Each time she hiked, she made her peace with the God of the Universe. On that particular day, she thought about dying. This is a beautiful place, she thought. I am comfortable here alone, in my solitude. I would be okay with dying here, although I am feeling quite healthy. But, if I should die, would my grown kids know what to do? Would they shed needless tears or spend useless money? Would they cry over the fact that I died alone, out in the wild? Tears of grief should only be shed because they miss me and loved me. There is nothing wrong with dying (or living) in solitude. Would they feel compelled, out of grief, loss or guilt to spend money on useless things like caskets and plots and headstones? Ah, there it was, the challenge of dying without money. It is expensive to die in a hospital. It is expensive to die on the trail. It is expensive to die in your sleep. It is expensive to legally dispose of a body no matter how and where that body breathes its last. Therein she was not ready to die. She had little money to leave to her descendants and less still that she was willing to have them spend on the dead! Money should be spent on life! What she did have in abundance to leave with them was music and a love of music. She had birthed, raised-up, trained and then released; not one, not two, but three passionate musicians to the world. Different genres, different eras, different goals, yet all three saturated with acute audio receptors, secure pitch, word-smithed lyrics and throbbing rhythms. Music told the story of her life and her contribution to the lives of others. And this is what she wanted to communicate to her offspring:
Cremate me. Scatter my ashes in a beautiful place. And if you choose to spend money, let it be on musicians. Throw the concert of the century. Tune the piano! If there are any black limos, use them to ferry musicians. Pack them full of instruments and bands. Let the music be well-prepared and well-performed. Skip the church and choose the concert hall or the amphitheater. A church building does not add one bit of holiness. For that matter, skip the speakers and preachers. Do not. Do not go down the moralistic route of speakers who try to shame, blame, coerce or manipulate the audience into a change of heart or lifestyle. The only kind of speakers I want to celebrate my life are those necessary for amplification of sound. Let the virtuoso string players play their adagios. Let the pop vocalists belt. Let the guitarists and drummers rock. Let the gospel choir sway and stack up the harmonies. Let the pipe organ thunder Bach. Let it be music well-prepared and well-performed. Fill the time with musical memories. Let the music comfort and speak. A good piece of music needs no explanation. Cut the preaching. Nix the manipulation. Play the music. Tell the story with music. Love and support the musicians. Take a trip down musical memory lane in my honor. Take a hike in a beautiful place. And I shall be at peace.