Eulogy at My Own Wake After The Golden Girls

Light over large body of water with man looking at water

At the "residential facility" I work at, we watch The Golden Girls every Saturday morning at 6:30 AM, right after breakfast. We watch it as a compromise with L, who used to snatch the clicker out of anyone’s hand and change the channel. He thinks the Common Area is his, which it is, we tell him, but it is everyone else’s too. Rather than fighting with him all the time I suggested why don’t we keep the clicker with staff and make a TV “schedule.” Everyone was like that’s a great idea! Why didn’t we think of that? Because sometimes the solution is right there and it’s hard to see. Sometimes the problem is not the person but the things around us, the thing which we are fighting over. I learned this in every relationship I have been in. Often it is not the person, it’s the object and act that needs to be resolved. Of course, you cannot just give your screaming children away, so sometimes you need to find a different answer. As a parent I learned if they are fighting over a toy, remove the toy and send them outside to play. I do not know if this is the way to be, but what can we ever really know about anything. It is all trial and guess and we just hope in the end for a little bit of praise. On The Golden Girls this morning Estelle Getty who plays Sophia, the mother, decides to have her own wake. She says she went to her friend Sal’s wake and they “said such beautiful things about him, but he was not there to hear them. Because he was dead!” She said, “I want to be able to hear what people say about me while I’m still alive.” She convinces the other women to organize a wake for her and invite all her friends. The people show up, no one is eating Betty White's pastries, instead they are crying all over the strudel, and then Sophia appears and says “Do you like my dress?” The shocked faces, and one woman says, “I took off work and drove 30 miles to get here and you didn’t even have the decency to die.” There are no extravagant eulogies, no speeches like what Sophia meant. After everyone is gone, Sophia says, “You three couldn’t even get my wake right, now I’ll never get to hear the things they’d say.” And her sitcom daughter Bea Arthur says, “Well, think of this: everyone we invited showed up.” Isn’t that enough, to know the ones you loved will arrive to bless you farewell? What would you say after I am gone or what would I say? My own soliloquy of all the things I’ve failed I would offer to this life if I were there to save them. Failed to be patient with the rain, failed to tend the garden in late summer, failed to listen to my daughter when she was trying to tell me of some teenage pain. Failed to say it is okay. Failed to learn the names of those tiny white butterflies, or different kinds of bees, or the names for my father’s lures. Failed to make time if time can be made. Failed to put the dishes away. Failed to forget the grievances or remember the anniversaries of the small hours. Failed to make them linger. Failed to blow on my soup. Failed to share my burns. Failed to repiece the shards. Failed to count the fireflies. Failed to notice the day the forsythia bloomed. Failed to listen? Failed to sing? Failed to say how the people in my life shimmered. Like the lake in late summer. I failed to drown. And for no reason I can name I think of my son when he was three and after it rained he’d go for walks with me and his mother, stomping in every puddle we passed, he in his big yellow oversized boots.

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