The Casting Dock

Speaker for the Dead

I think sometimes about what I would say at my mom’s funeral if it happened tomorrow.

I know it’s morbid and creepy and sad, but in a weird way I feel like if I think about it, then if it ever happens I will be at least better prepared to deal with it emotionally. My mom tells me I’ve always been like that: if I knew something was coming, no matter how bad it would be, I would brace for it and be fine. It was the not knowing that would make me freak out, not the event itself.

I know it’s silly because no amount of mental preparation could ready me for that level of devastation, but nonetheless, I still do it sometimes. And in my mind, somehow I always muster the courage to speak at her funeral, to speak to her life and her memory. But I do so in a holistic way, not an overly sentimental way.

I have always wanted to paint an accurate picture–to recognize pain and disappointment and heartache woven throughout the tapestry of life. I think we do an injustice to the joys and celebrations if we don’t allow the difficulties to punctuate the journey. If we only acknowledge someone’s strengths of character, we can’t appreciate what they have overcome or worked to improve.

It feels inauthentic.

I always tell Jerry that if I die first, I want him to be my Speaker for the Dead. I want him to speak about me accurately–to say that I struggled with impatience, had to teach myself empathy, and fought mentally against being comparative and judgmental. That it was my natural tendency to weigh my value by my achievement and that I prayed so often for increased faithfulness and the ability to accept grace. Of course I want him to say that I was loyal and loving and even-headed, that I was clever and worked hard and was quick to give others the benefit of the doubt. But I don’t want it all to be the good stuff, because that’s not really a complete picture of who I am. And I think it cheapens my experience in life.

So when I speak at my mom’s funeral in this bizarre little mind wandering of mine, I am her Speaker for the Dead. I share some of her sorrows and joys, her strengths and weaknesses, and her quirks too, just for good measure. I share her weaving human journey, delicately and respectfully, but in such a way that those who have come to mourn her can also celebrate a full life, of ups and downs, well-lived.

And I share little stories and snippets that capture her essence: her way of always responding, I like her. I like her a lot. even in response to questions about people who clearly annoy her; her incessant claim that she does not fall asleep on the couch despite years of evidence to the contrary; her weird fish-face face-lift obsession; the way she laughs at her own jokes; her mom dance (do all moms have those? dear Lord, how can I escape it?); and my personal favorite of the moment:

the way she took this dress, which I bought for $15 and mailed to her with her mother’s day gift, fixed the zipper and mailed it back to me in time for my weekend event.

She is devoted to a fault.

Mom, this is basically a lengthy, morbid way of me saying I LOVE YOU and would be lost without you so stick around for a while. Who else would be my personal seamstress for free (plus shipping)?

10 comments

1 Bryan { 05.29.12 at 10:25 pm }

Creepy? Little bit

2 noche { 05.29.12 at 10:40 pm }

I held my breath when I saw the word “quirks”, but alas you showed great constraint! Don’t spend too much time planning what you will say instead how about you take a sewing class so you won’t miss me as much when I’m gone??? he,he.

3 noche { 05.29.12 at 10:41 pm }

I love the dress and the person wearing it… who looks lovely in it!

4 k&c's mom { 05.30.12 at 1:31 am }

Your mom is one of my favorite people on this earth. I love to hear her stories.
If I had to speak of you, Lisa, I would remember how you always made us dip our chips in Ranch dressing first, and then salsa (at Chili’s). That way the Ranch stayed clean and Lisa stayed happy. :)

5 Mama Logan { 05.30.12 at 8:34 am }

In your notes to Jerry as your Speaker for the Dead, PLEASE don’t let him forget to mention your awesome family impersonations!

6 CraigW { 05.30.12 at 9:47 am }

I’ve played that day out in my mind more than once. It begins “Today, we stand in the presence of greatness.”.

7 Rhonda Burns { 05.30.12 at 12:45 pm }

Selfishly, I would rather ‘go’ before your mother so let’s keep that in perspective! I can’t imagine my Friday nights without your mom in them. She makes me laugh like no other! We have shared many hours of joy and sadness together and I treasure both. Your mom is an amazing woman and I am confident you could spend hours sharing some “noche” moments!! I definitely don’t plan to be around if Jerry becomes your “speaker for the dead” because you definitely are not allowed to pass into eternity before me!! Having said that, one of my favorite memories of you, besides the countless times we ganged up on your mom in some wondrous moments of humor, is when you and I tangoed down the aisle at Chili’s! What were we thinking!! Makes me laugh still!

8 Lisa { 05.31.12 at 7:17 pm }

Haha, well to be faithful to my southern “roots,” Rayeanne, I must say that I do love me some salsa and ranch. And you are right–ALWAYS the ranch first! And that tango…oh my Rhonda! What were we thinking indeed?? I blame you mostly. I was only a child. I knew not of my foolishness or embarrassment (though I guess that’s one reason that kids are awesome!).

Mama Logan, I’m pretty sure my family impersonations would be high on Jerry’s list of recounting my talents! :)

And GREATNESS indeed, Craig…though you’ve played my mom’s funeral out in your mind as well???!! Interesting…

9 Craig W { 06.01.12 at 10:08 am }

You are too young and clever for me. Slinking back into my hole now.

10 Ruth Plasket { 06.10.12 at 2:07 pm }

Lisa–can I put your name in my notes to be the “speaker for the dead?” Oh, forgot would like for you to get this done NOW so it can be edited. Also haven’t seen the my impersonation yet so would also like to edit that. Love ya, Meema/Meems

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