Some people these days spend a lot of time thinking about what they want their memorial service to be like. My mother, Dorothy Au, spent the last year or so deciding what she wanted in the way of music, food and arrangements down the last detail, even though she was reasonably in good health until her last day. It seems that in every telephone call, she would remind me: “And I want you to schedule the church service on a Saturday, with just the family at the graveside just beforehand”; “Please move my piano to the church so that my piano teacher can play a short recital for the prelude”; “Call the caterer to bring sandwiches, fruits and vegetables for the reception”; “I want you to have a Chinese banquet that evening” and so forth.
You see, one of her lifelong friends died last year very suddenly and she wanted all of us to be prepared in case we would face something similar when the time came. And as it turned out, she was gone in a day. How grateful we are that she did not have to suffer! My father had cancer and died “by inches.” I think that was more difficult for me and our family members to bear.
And so in these last few days, my four siblings and I have been trying to follow her blueprint as we make plans for her memorial service next Saturday, July 9th. One of her wishes was to have her five children sing one of her favorite hymns. She also wanted to have all the grandchildren get up and sing “Amazing grace.” But since none of us are used to singing together, I have asked a certain professional, but not-yet-retired choir director (Carl Crosier) to coach us!
I was trying to calculate how many funerals and memorial services I had either attended or played the organ for, and I would have to guess it’s close to 400. At some point you get to thinking about the day when it will be YOUR turn. I told Carl I wanted my favorite organ piece played: “Aus tiefer Not” (Out of the depths) by Johann Sebastian Bach. In case someone is not around to play it, we have a recording of me playing it which you even find on the LCH website!
Have you told anyone what you want for music for YOUR service?