Funerals and Memorial Services

A_Franklin funeral program book coverI was asked whether I watched or had recorded to watch later, some or all of the broadcast of Aretha Franklin’s funeral (held Friday, August 31, 2018). Here’s my response to that question.

No; I did not watch it, nor had I any intention of watching coverage of Aretha Franklin’s funeral. However, I did see a few very short video clips of her funeral as it was part of the local news here in Michigan (many of the Saginaw, Michigan area newspapers, and TV news and radio news stations were present at that funeral to cover it) and the ABC television network’s national evening news. I’m sure that networks like BET for example, and several internet websites will have various video clips of Aretha Franklin’s funeral. That content is sure to be available online if someday I’m ready or am willing to see and hear it.

Now, I did not know Aretha Franklin on any personal or professional level. I was – and still am, simply a lifelong fan of her work. I respected the late Queen of Soul and her music career. Aretha was not just a fellow Black American; she was an outstanding and talented individual, and a strong, independent woman. Had the opportunity to meet her presented itself, I would have been quite honored! I loved and still love most of Aretha’s music – much of which I’ve listened to since my childhood. However, as I’ve said, I did not watch the televised coverage of her funeral. In fact, I chose not to watch it. You see, I hate funerals and memorial services and will try to avoid going to such organized ceremonies which honor the dead. And since I do not like going to funerals or to memorial services (and I’m sure many other people don’t like going to them either, yet they still choose to go out of some obligation), I’d be damned if I was ever going to watch such a ceremony – not even one held for Aretha Franklin – on television.
(From this point forward, the following may offend some readers.)

_Funerals, memorial services1As far as I’m concerned, funeral and memorial services are not for the deceased but instead are for much of the vanity, egotistical and/or religious feelings, and sensitivities of the people who are living. Many people who want to have a funeral or memorial service for some loved or admired and respected person, only want that ceremony so that they can attend said ceremony, be seen there, and perhaps – if so allowed, to even speak at the service ceremony about the deceased. I suppose that’s okay, but some people only want to use the solemn ceremony for very selfish means.

I feel some funerals and memorial services are nothing more than a human ego sideshow for some of the [living] attendees – which would include some nefarious family members with an agenda, as well as so-called “friends” and/or frenemies of the deceased (a frenemy is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry); persons who might use the occasion to either deceive themselves and/or someone else with displays of sympathy and mourning as they perform the pointless yet often meaningless acts of “paying their respects” to a…. dead person. The “respect” those persons call themselves paying should have been paid when the deceased person was alive; a time when signs of respect from other living people would have been appreciated. I know that I’d certainly appreciate people showering me with lots of love, affection, tears, and favorable comments about my character, and give me sweet flowers while I’m still alive and still mentally aware to see, hear, sense, and enjoy all of it!

Being non-religious and thereby non-superstitious, I do not believe that any spirit or ghost of a dead person travels to another place of existence nor believes that person’s spirit or ghost returns to visit the living (much less returns in time to attend their own funeral or memorial service). Furthermore, I seriously doubt the dead is capable of having any interest in displays of so-called “respect” [post-death] and would be even less interested in any organized ceremony which the living has put together to honor their death. Now, whether there are a few or there are several people who are actively involved in the funeral or memorial service preparation, some or many members of the family and close friends of the deceased might feel or might be made to feel or believe that the spirit or ghost of the deceased is able to give a damn about things like funeral preparations; Supposed spirit, ghost of the deceased1that the spirit/ghost of the deceased is present and watching to see whether they were going to have a nice, extravagant  funeral or simply a small, awful or perhaps a shitty funeral or memorial service. Playing with the ignorant yet religious or superstitious assumptions that the spirit or ghost of the deceased might linger around after the body has died or that it may return to monitor funeral or memorial service arrangements and implementation held in their honor, I challenge anyone to tell me exactly what, if anything, could the spirit/ghost of the deceased do about such things, particularly of said spirit/ghost isn’t pleased with the funeral or memorial service arrangements or with certain aspects of that ceremony.

It’s little wonder then why funeral and memorial service planners and directors make such big money. Death is big business! It’s quite easy to play upon the grief, stress, frustrations, confusion, and internal turmoil of a grieving family. Casket styles 4 saleSuch a family – often out of some guilt and/or perhaps because of their religious views, silly superstitions, or a family “curse” or fear, might succumb to all the funeral or memorial service preparation hype. I’m talking about the kind of hype that’s offered (perhaps pushed) by or added onto their grief-influenced decision-making by many supposedly sensitive and caring professional funeral and memorial services planners and directors; some of whom never miss a moment to remind the grieving family – particularly the person(s) who will be paying for the funeral or memorial service, that a particular ceremony amenity may be best for that husband, wife, mother, brother, sister, partner or friend of the deceasedIt’s not as though the “dearly departed” could either approve or disapprove with the funeral or memorial service arrangements.

Many years ago, I promised myself to never again attend or participate in a person’s funeral or memorial service unless it was under one or all of the following three conditions:

  • the funeral or memorial service was for someone whom I knew personally; someone whose airspace I had shared a number of times and/or for whom there had long been a mutual sense of love, respect, and admiration;
  • the funeral or memorial service was part of my job as a [then] military man or, if the deceased was an honorably discharged veteran – Burial at sea_USS PELELIU (USNavy)1-rzand fellow veterans were needed to volunteer to assist in the ceremony either as ushers, processional drivers, or pallbearers; or to assist with other ceremonial details such as serving as a member of the honor guard at the deceased veteran’s burial site which might either be at a cemetery or at sea.
    [S/N: During my service in the U.S. Navy, I had the distinct honor to participate in every function just mentioned for a number of U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps deceased veterans whose bodies were to be buried in either a cemetery or at sea, or whose ashes were to be scattered at sea.];
  • the funeral or memorial service was for a fellow and respected member of the fraternal order of Freemasons (of which I am a member), and that Masonic brother either was or had at some point of his service as a Mason, been a member of either my Masonic lodge or at some other Masonic lodge.

Once again it bears repeating: funerals and memorial services are for the livingThe dead…. that cold, lifeless human body that is being prepped for public display (aka a “wake”) has no say in the matter; unless of course the deceased had previously stated in a will or in some other legal or certified document, the desired details of their funeral or memorial service. Such documents may have instructions indicating the wishes of the deceased regarding things like: organ and tissue donation/dissemination, funeral or memorial service arrangements – including who is allowed/not allowed to attend said service/ceremony, and body burial or disposition (e.g., cremation) details. Often a member of the family – usually a spouse, an immediate relative, a parent of the deceased, someone with power of attorney (POA) for the deceased, or a personal or family attorney for the deceased, would be aware of such final instructions. Either that person or someone else who is recognized as the head of the family or the designated representative of the family will usually see to it that the wishes of the deceased, if any, are carried out. That person often works in concert or with the cooperation of the rest of the family to see that proper and desired funeral or memorial service arrangements for the deceased are carefully and properly planned and implemented.

In the United States, funerals and memorial services are considered private citizen type affairs; having only minor to no interference by the local and state governments other than of course, the laws in which all medical personnel, coroners, funeral and memorial service planners and directors must follow. Memorial services1However, if for some reason the deceased had no living spouse, no relatives, or anyone legally authorized to act in his or her stead for post-death affairs (e.g. like the aforementioned organ and tissue donation/dissemination, funeral or memorial service arrangements, and body burial or disposition details, etc.), or if the deceased had no legal representation in such matters, nor any legal document indicating their post-death wishes, then the local and/or state government steps in and does whatever standing ordinance and/or state law requires in such matters.

I have been to my share of funerals and/or memorial services over the past thirty years to have been disappointed and sometimes appalled by some of the hypocrisy demonstrated by some of the people who attended the funeral or the memorial service of persons I personally knew and had loved and respected. Those experiences and perceptions helped shape my opinion and attitude about funerals and memorial services. I have little reason yet to change how I feel.

– RobFather X

The SOTU: Boycotts are Pointless

PREFACE: For those reading this article, Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, requires the President of the United States to “periodically give to Congress, information of the State of the Union, and to recommend to Congress, consideration of such measures as he [the President] shall judge necessary and expedient.”

State_of_The_Union (SOTU)

In the days prior to the Mr. Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union (SOTU) address as president, I have heard and read comments from a number of people – both on and off social media, expressing their intent not to watch its broadcast on TV and on the internet nor listen to it on the radio. I’ve also seen a few social media political pages which outright called for followers of their page to boycott the SOTU by not watching or listening to it. The reasons for such a boycott just seemed silly to me…at least much too silly for me to repeat any of them in this blog article.
*sigh*
Here’s the thing: People are free to [legally] do whatever they want, including refusing to watch and/or listen to Mr. Trump’s (or to any U.S. president’s) SOTU address. Fine. However, I refuse to partake in such willful ignorance. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, refusing to watch/listen to any SOTU and/or to any address delivered by a U.S. president to both houses of Congress is sheer willful ignorance. People need to realize that the SOTU is not like going to or boycotting a political campaign speech by some political hopeful. The State of the Union (SOTU) is the constitutionally-mandated report to Congress – to our elected legislative representatives. No American citizen ever has to believe nor support a word of it.

You see, I see absolutely no point in not watching or in “boycotting” the SOTU – regardless of how I or anyone else feels about the person [holding the office of President] delivering that constitutionally-required important address to the full body of Congress and to the American people. Furthermore, I feel that people who choose not to listen to/boycott the SOTU address, yet at the same time, consider themselves to be so-called “woke” and politically aware of the political happenings in American government, are shortchanging themselves; possibly even setting themselves up to be judged and/or thought of as hypocritical in their so-called expressions of “woke-ness” and political awareness. [Yes, I said it!]

Still, I’m nothing if not fair. And so, I acknowledge the possibility (albeit very unlikely) that perhaps I’ve missed something in the reasoning and supposed logic some people have to boycott the SOTU. I’d be quite interested in learning what one hoped to have gained by refusing to watch/listen to Mr. Trump deliver the SOTU to Congress. To be clear, I am no fan of Mr. Donald. J. Trump. I never have been. I am no fan of Mr. Trump’s administration. And so far, Mr. Trump has not put into effect any policy which I can support. Still, I felt it was important that I watch and listen to the SOTU – just as I’ve done to many of the SOTUs delivered by Mr. Trump’s predecessors over the years.

Trump's First SOTU (30JAN2018)Regardless of my feelings about Mr. Trump (and I have many which are negative), I consider watching and listening carefully to Mr. Trump address my nation’s elected legislative representatives as both an intelligent and educational benefit to my mind and to my state of political awareness. Watching and listening to the SOTU doesn’t necessarily mean that I will believe and/or support any part or all of the content of that particular address nor does it mean or imply that I support the president and/or his agenda in any way, shape, or form. It simply doesn’t.

Given the opportunity and the means, I feel every abled-bodied citizen of a free republic should always carefully watch, listen, and learn what their nation’s leader is doing, the accomplishments that leader claims to have made while in office, what that leader wants and/or plans to do while in office, and to at least consider whether to hear and/or read an accounting of such when that leader gives any mandated and official report to the elected representatives of the people of that nation. It’s important!

Thus, when the President of the United States – no matter who that person is, addresses the full legislative body of Congress – and that address is able to be broadcasted on all forms of electronic and non-electronic media, I feel every able-bodied American citizen has a certain responsibility to try to watch and listen to what that president has to say. Furthermore, I feel that each citizen who watches that important national address should also take note of various reactions made by members of Congress in attendance [at the SOTU] regarding each point made by the president – as well as to the comments made by those attending members of Congress at the completion of the president’s address.

In short, refusing to watch or deciding to boycott the SOTU address is, in a word, silly. Except for perhaps losing an hour or two out of one’s evening, I doubt that there’s anything else anyone can lose simply by watching and/or listening to the address or reading it in print later. If nothing else, there are certainly a few things one can learn.

– RobFather X

 

TV Award Shows

Ophrah Winfrey-Gloden Globes_2018I was asked for my thoughts about Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes Awards last evening (January 7, 2018). Here’s my response: I did not watch the Golden Globes awards show but did hear parts of her speech on the news this morning. All I care to say about it is: Nice, but what about it? Big deal. I didn’t care. NEXT!

I also learned that Ms. Winfrey may consider – or at one time, she may have considered, a presidential run. Uh-huh. Well, as a fellow American citizen she certainly has that right. However, that would be something which I’d seriously hate to see happen.

The reason I didn’t watch that awards show (nor will watch any other) is because of how I feel about television award shows in general. I feel every last one of them is a huge waste of television coverage, pointless in nature, and for most of the participants and/or awardees, a sheer demonstration of personal egotism and vanity. Thus, I despise such shows and won’t waste my time watching them. And if by some odd chance I was ever offered/given an invitation to attend one of those shows, I wouldn’t accept. Why would or should I accept an invitation to some event for which I have no positive feelings?

– RobFather X

Acts of Patriotic Defiance

Yesterday, [August 14, 2017] protesters in Durham, North Carolina [U.S.] toppled a 100-year-old statue dedicated to the [then] Confederate States of America (commonly referred to as the Confederacy). Things like that shown in the video (which has gone viral on social media) will be happening by many brave people in other parts of the southern United States and in a number of public places in the U.S. where statues or monuments sit that represent, symbolize or give honor to ideas or advocates of racism, bigotry and other forms of hatred. Watch the video clip:

As an American citizen but more importantly as a person who detests all images, symbols and/or messages of social hatred and bigotry in my country (as well as those in other places around the world), I’m completely in support of legally (but safely) bringing down and having destroyed, any statue, sculpture, monument and/or building sitting on American pubic soil which represents, symbolizes, honors, advocates and/or sends a message of racial hatred and bigotry – or the history of that sort. Future generations of Americans can read about the record of racial hatred and bigotry in the United States; we don’t need to erect, keep or maintain physical monuments to it. Still, while watching the video clip showing a few brave American citizens toppling a statue that was dedicated to the then-Confederate States of America, I couldn’t help but chuckle (not mock, but simply chuckle) at the scene of those persons who did just a little more than that to the inanimate object. (Watch the video again.)

You see, I wouldn’t waste my saliva nor risk hurting or breaking my foot (nor any other body part) on a thing made of materials like metal, marble, plaster, cement or resin, et al; particularly not on a thing which never received life and attacked me. I understand the significance of one spitting on and kicking and hitting a statue. However, those particular acts neither mean anything much nor will they do any more damage than that which has already been done by bird droppings (aka feces or shit), the harsh heat of the sun, acid rain, and winter’s cold and ice during the statue’s existence.

Here’s the point of my message: When tearing down and/or destroying an object whose existence or presence either symbolizes, represents or honors a social and/or moral wrong – or the history of such wrong, I think one should perform those acts of sociopolitical defiance by using good mindful sense and by taking a personally safe and healthy approach. Few things in this world – such as statue and/or building vandalism or destruction, are ever worth hurting, seriously injuring or possibly killing oneself in the process. History rarely remembers martyrs of sociopolitical causes, especially none who haven’t been identified. And remember: the town or city where one has hurt/injured or killed him or herself while in the act of doing those patriotic things of defiance isn’t necessarily obligated to cover that person’s medical, funeral and burial or cremation expenses. Just a little something to think about.
Carry on, patriot!

– RobFather X

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© RobFather X! Productions

No “Weirdness of Being Black” for Me

RobFather X  (face)I can relate to Atlanta comic artist Cory Thomas’ illustration shown in this link but please; after five decades of living and being aware of my world, I see simply a social norm, not any “strange new reality” or “weirdness of being Black” in everyday life for me and other people of color who live and/or work with White people after Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency.

CHECK IT: Though I live, work and play in a valley which consists of any number of closeted and openly racists and bigots, I – unlike some, shall fear no evil mindset, heart, attitude or spiritual character held or expressed by any man, woman or child. For I have been raised, adequately trained, educated, tried and tested to always be on the ready to fearlessly put such people in check and – when necessary, to aggressively further defend myself against any negative mental and/or physical onslaught against my person. In short, one would be most wise not to ever come for me unless I specifically send for them.
#nofear

– RobFather X

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© RobFather X! Productions