Final Request

Dear future funeral director,
When I die please do not place
my hands one over the other
across my chest in sweet by and
by hymnic repose. Surely my kin
will buck this final request but be
of a firm persuasion and press on.
I want you to shove my hands in
my pants pockets so that even on
the hushed pillows of the polished
casket there is the quickening look
of a grown man subtly scratching
his jewels or jing jangling a bunch
of nickels and dimes to death (ha).
Death can be so cold and proper.
I want to leave a memory searing
symbol for those who remain of me
looking the reaper straight in his
impotent eyes and saying out silent:
Aw hell, you know this ain’t over.
 
 

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43 Comments

  1. hisfirefly on January 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    you make him tremble, you know…

  2. Larry Shallenberger on January 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Oh, I needed a good chuckle.

  3. dukeslee on January 28, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Oh … yes. Love this.

    My brother is a casket salesman, just now finishing up his training to become a mortician. People go out in … um, rather creative repose from time to time. My brother tells me about a guy who wanted his casket standing straight up, so he could greet his visitors in a more vertical way. (They had to belt that guy in, good and tight.)

    Your story also reminds me of my father-in-law, who died almost exactly five years ago. And he was this entrepreneurial man, fiercely determined during the Farm Crisis of the ’80s. So he and my mother-in-law started a company to turn part of their soybean crop into a gourmet soynut product. The company is still going strong today, but he died of leukemia on account of excessive exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam. At the funeral visitation, my sister-in-law stuck little bags of soynuts in her dad’s pockets — onion & garlic and Harvest Crunch, if I remember right.

    • dewbailey on January 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      I love this Jennifer.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 29, 2014 at 3:17 am

      I love that story, Jennifer…sounds like a man I’d like to have met.

  4. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson) on January 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    My grandfather had lost part of a finger in a machine shop accident, and I always considered that missing nub just a part of who he was. I watched his hand as he stirred his coffee every Sunday afternoon around the farmhouse kitchen table. At Grandpa’s funeral, his hands had been arranged so that his fingers covered over the missing one. I thought it was profoundly disrespectful, trying to hide part of who my grandpa was.

    • dewbailey on January 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I agree with you Nancy.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 29, 2014 at 3:18 am

      ‘Disrespectful’ is the only word, Nancy. I’m so sorry that happened…

    • Lydia on January 29, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      If there was a viewing, you could have asked for that to be changed, We did that with my ex father in law, he never never wore a tie, he had a tie on, his daughter told them to take if off, they did. I know its not finger, but the tie was not part of him either. Funeral home at least here will do whatever they need to do to support the families

      • Baird on January 29, 2014 at 11:19 pm

        Exactly, Well put Lydia, But someone in the family gave the funeral director a tie. We don’t just randomly have ties laying around waiting for someone to put it on. People can not read minds and know every persons desires. As far as Nancy’s Grandfathers finger, was that disrespectful or just common courtesy, not wanting John Q Public, to stare and wonder why didn’t the Funeral Director put his other hand over his injury. Just saying….

  5. patriciaspreng on January 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Love it! = )

  6. dewbailey on January 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    This is wonderful John! I am going to begin to think up something “out of the box” for my own funeral presentation!

    • Gwen Acres on January 28, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      An aside. I wonder why we whisper around the dead? It’s as if we could wake them up. I want loud music and lots of happy talk at my funeral!

      • Joni Judge on January 28, 2014 at 6:13 pm

        For my “too young to die”, fun loving son -we had a “Memorial Party” !!! His ashes were in a handsome canister marked “Sugar” that we covered over with his name. (He LOVED food and cooking!) – Pictures of his life — lot’s of “Happy, Happy” ! AND! the Universe gifted us with a fantastic “Rainbow” in the sky, to be seen from the Patio – where the food was served. Everyone decided it was son’s approval of His “Party” !

      • Jason Kopan on January 29, 2014 at 10:31 pm

        I have also always wondered why we always whisper in church, do we actually think God can’t hear us?

    • Gwen Acres on January 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Clever!

    • thebeautifuldue on January 29, 2014 at 3:20 am

      Good for you!

  7. Anna on January 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I just realized today I’ve been receiving your posts via email for a while, but haven’t taken the time to comment and say how much I have appreciated your poetry. This last line stands out to me today: “Aw hell, you know it ain’t over.” It’s good, I think, to live conscious of the reality of death as well as the reality that death is in many ways just a rite of passage into greater life.

    Thank you for the immediacy, grittiness, truth in your poetry.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 29, 2014 at 3:21 am

      Thank you, Anna. Living conscious is not always easy, but its always the best path. I appreciate you reading along and taking the time to let me know.

  8. Abby on January 28, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Love!!! A great big smile on a snowy afternoon. Thank you!!

  9. Susan Irene Fox on January 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Swagger! I’m 4’10” and I decided long ago that I want Randy Newman’s “Short People” played at my funeral. It’s in my will. No teary-eyed mourners for me. I want to look down to see tears of laughter at my wake.

  10. Sue on January 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Freaking awesome.

    • thebeautifuldue on January 29, 2014 at 3:23 am

      Hi, Sue. You made me smile with that comment – thank you!

  11. Cantelon on January 29, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Very nice! Good to find another poet online…cheers

    • thebeautifuldue on January 29, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Cantelon, thanks. Yes, there are a few of us.

  12. erica on January 29, 2014 at 6:08 am

    My Grandpa was allways tinkering in grease. his hands were never clean. But they were in his casket. I wrote a poem about that also.

  13. Winn Collier on January 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I keep returning to this, John. You’re final line gives me laughter, but more a jolt of courage and hope each time I read it.

  14. Cait McKnelly on January 29, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    My father was cremated but we had a “proper funeral” with him in what amounted to a cardboard casket with plastic handles.
    He was dressed in his bib overalls and we stuffed all kinds of things in the pockets; a little bunch of blooming heather, safety pins, a deck of cards, a dream catcher, a carpenter’s pencil. People were encouraged to do that and leave anything that was a connection to him.
    His ashes were buried in an antique, two gallon size, green glass Mason jar with a zinc lid. When my mother died, she was cremated as well and the jar was dug up, her ashes placed in it with his and the jar shaken to mix them. it was reburied and their headstones placed over it.

    • Joni Judge on January 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      – – love it! made me smile!

  15. Julia Pryal on January 29, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I was wondering, and probably have wondered all of my long life, as to why our hands are crossed across our chest…can anyone answer me if there is any significance to this??? I was 5 yrs old when I viewed my 6 yr old brothers body in his casket, and from then on when I’ve viewed a body of a deceased person, their hands have always been crossed on their chests…with the exception of my deceased husband, whose hands,arms were along side of his body, with the hands on his pelvis/hip area…and looked real nice to say the least…

  16. Tim Franklin on January 29, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Aw hell, another poem from John that rings true and kicks some life into this weary heart.

  17. Diana Trautwein on January 30, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Hell, yeah.

  18. In which I link you up (vol. 41) - Sarah Bessey on February 1, 2014 at 12:22 am

    […] Final Request by John Blase […]

  19. amberhaines on February 2, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Shoot dog, this is funny.

  20. Antonia (@antoniaterrazas) on February 3, 2014 at 2:11 am

    I love everything about this.

  21. Bloggerhood Etc 2/3/14 | Fatherhood Etc. on February 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    […] Poem. “Final Request” by John at The Beautiful […]

  22. Auf Wiedersehen My Friend | thecornfedpastor on February 28, 2014 at 3:00 am

    […] thinking about some of the ways he used to do it. With that in mind, I found this blog post called Final Request and thought, no irreverence intended, that this would be something like his final […]

  23. […] Finally, if you haven’t been reading John Blase’s poetry you need to. Sometimes, his poetry gets delivered to my email box and I stop whatever I am doing and read it out loud to my class because it is just so beautiful. They particularly liked this one. […]

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