Lately, it’s been hard not to think about my own mortality. Heck, the coronavirus seems to take a few of us every week.
Now don’t get me wrong, just because covid made me think about my own demise doesn’t mean that I’m worried about it. On the contrary, it only made me appreciate the extremely blessed life that I have already lived.
No kidding. I have packed a couple of lives for most people in the 58 years I have been on this earth. My cup overflowed so much that it could fill an Olympic size swimming pool.
Here are some of the highlights: I skied in Austria, golfed in Scotland, and ate sushi in Japan. I was picked by the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. I lived in London for four months. I wrote a book on Howard Stern. I was standing on top of the Great Wall of China. I participated in the first four Laurel Christian School basketball championships.
I have sailed on the Amazon River. I shook hands with Paul McCartney. I have seen whales and grizzly bears up close in the wild. I climbed to the top of
the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. And, I know this one will be too hard to believe, but it’s God’s honest truth – I had lunch with the Olsen twins inside the Kremlin. I know. It’s just weird to say it out loud, but it really happened.
Of course, I was also part of an amazing team of people who took a startup journal called The ReView of Jones County and dismantled, then took over, the iconic 111-year-old Laurel Leader-Call journal. It’s another whole chapter in my life with too many amazing stories to talk about here.
And I haven’t even mentioned my friends and family, which are the greatest blessings of all. In fact, while you’re reading this, I’m in North Carolina to visit my first grand-baby, Evie. God is big.
What made my life even better was that I started with nothing. I lived in abject poverty … didn’t even have running water for most of my teenage years.
This start allowed me to appreciate everything that followed so much more.
While I don’t expect to perish anytime soon, if recent events have shown us anything, it’s that you never know when your time may be up. And when my time is up, as Steve Martin once said, “I don’t want a fancy funeral, just one like old King Tut.” I laugh.
Actually, I don’t want a funeral at all. I especially don’t want a wake-up call. All the funerals and vigils I have attended have been depressing. And don’t get me started examining corpses. It gives me goosebumps, and I have yet to see a corpse that looks as good as the living person. I don’t want the very last image someone sees of me to be my lifeless body, unless they lay me face down on the ground. But then people laughed at my unusually big butt, so whatever.
If I can’t fulfill my long-standing wish to be stuffed and ridden and placed in the Leader-Call window (with a mechanical arm so I could greet tourists), then I guess the best thing to do would be to carry my body to the Leaf River, I put it on a raft and shot a flaming arrow there.
But disposing of my leftovers is not the real reason for this column. No, I want this column to be my last will and will for my memorial service.
First of all, I would like the service to be at the Buffalo Wild Wings. Rent the whole place and have an open bar. The drinks are on me. My closest friends will know that drinks have always been on me so this is the way I want to hang out.
Even though BWW doesn’t have any more anecdotes so I have no more reason to go, it’s a place that keeps a lot of good memories for me, so it’s perfect as a meeting place.
Second, you are all invited. If you like me, come and have fun. If you don’t love me, come celebrate my death. I do not care. I am dead.
Third, we’ll need a podium with a microphone installed and a large, lavishly framed photo of actor Tom Skerritt as “Viper” from the movie Top Gun. For years I’ve been told I look like him, so let’s remember me as Top Gun’s “Viper”.
Until the speakers start their heartfelt tributes (yes, I have speakers), I’d like some mellow 70s pop songs to play in the background.
Bread, The Carpenters, Dr. Hook, America … all good choices. At the time, I was playing these songs on the Wings jukebox to drive the clientele and rap workers crazy.
I’d like Rock 104 morning personality Bryan Hicks to act as the emcee.
Bryan and I know each other, but it’s not like we’re close friends, so we’ll probably have to slip him a few hundred bucks. The investment is worth it, as it will undoubtedly make my death hysterically funny.
I have thought a lot about the range of speakers I want. First of all, I want Ret. General Lance Pilch of the United States Air Force to speak. Not only will people be in awe of the fact that I got to know a real general (actually I kept him) but he has known me since I was 14, so he can relate how I was when
Speaking of kids, my two daughters would be next on the list. I want my oldest, Emily, performer “Bananas Magee” from our world famous vaudeville act, then my youngest, Alison, would read her favorite Christmas letter I wrote and sent to my family and friends every season. holidays.
Next, Sean Murphy, whom I want to lift and give his best “McGregor” performance.
I want the long version, and I want the best Irish brogue he’s ever made. (Bryan: If he insists, give him two extra minutes to recount the time he called me an idiot Polack. He loves this story.)
After Sean, there will be the Morgan boys – Andrew, his brother Thomas and his cousin Luke. I would like these three handsome young men to relive the championships and talk about their basketball days for me at Laurel Christian School. Believe me … they have stories.
Then everyone is in a real heartbreak because I would like the director of the Leader-Call office, the mother of babies at the royal office and someone I have known since the age of 7, Lakyn Prince, to sing his best rendition of my favorite country song, “He Quit Loving It Today”. George Jones’ song is perfect for the occasion because it is about a dead man.
Finally, I want the keynote speaker to be Mark Thornton. Mark is a much better writer than a speaker, so Mark, I’m going to insist that you write down what you’re going to say ahead of time.
Don’t wing it! Mark will have an encyclopedia of material to choose from, so everyone takes a double from the bar and squats down because it might take awhile. However, I can promise you that it will be interesting. I wish I could be there to hear it.
In any case, that’s all. Bryan, thank everyone for coming and remind them to tip the bartender.
Leader-Call editor Jim Cegielski lives in Laurel.