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Friday, July 08, 2005

Honoring Last Requests

This might seem kind of morbid, but... kind of cool. And just plain weird.

A while bad, some of us were sitting around, and the subject of funerals came up. Kind of bizarre conversation, really. In the end, we agreed (I guess) that viewings are just plain weird (but probably necessary) and that there had to be a better way of celebrating the deceased's life. Throw a party. Play some games. Yes, there needs to be a time for grieving, but there needs to be a time to rejoice for the person they were and the better life they've gone on to.

So... fast forward to today and this article about one person's unique last request.
In silk black-and-gold pajamas, velvety black robe and slippers, James Henry Smith is at rest.His feet are crossed, his pack of cigarettes and a beer by his side. Steelers highlights are playing on a high-definition TV screen nearby. With the TV remote in his hand, leaning back in his recliner, a Steelers blanket across his legs, it's like a game-day Sunday.

Except that it's not.

It was last night at Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home in Lincoln-Lemington, and family and friends were filing in to pay their final respects to Smith, whom they called one of the biggest Steelers fans in the universe.

Smith, 55, of Garfield, had been ill for two years with prostate cancer. He died last Thursday at the VA Medical Center in Oakland.

A week before, his wife, Denise Finn Smith, had called Coston's to ask if something special could be done to celebrate her husband's life. He wanted to be at home, in the living room, surrounded by photos of family and watching football.

Like I said, this is kind of cool. I think it's great that the funeral home was able to honor this man's wishes. It honored his life and his loves (his family and football). It gave the mourners a reason to smile.

I'm sure that some people would think this was frivolous and making light of a serious subject. And I'm sure that not all people would want that, or that all families would be able to handle it. Even I think the recliner was a little over the top.But that's ok. It wasn't my funeral or the funeral of anyone in my family. And the funeral director did day it was an unusual request.

Where am I going with all of this? Love people while they're with you. Honor them when they're gone. Tears will fall, but smile through them, and celebrate their lives.

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