The Life of the Party
Quite suddenly and without warning, Buddy passed away. Devastated
and stunned, friends and family scrambled with funerary
arrangements and began questioning one another. "Did Buddy ever
mention his own funeral? Did he want to be buried? Or cremated?
Did he want an open coffin?" Everyone was caught off guard.
Strings of phone calls and emails flew back and forth for the
next day or two. One of Buddy's cousins remembered he had
mentioned that he did want to be cremated when he died. "What a
waste of space!" he had said, regarding his opinion of cemetery
plots. With that scant information to go on, Buddy was indeed
cremated and his simple funeral service was lovely, somber, and
brief. Buddy's cousin was given the urn to take home.
"It doesn't seem right," mused one of his pals over a poker game
one night. "Buddy was such a kick ass dude. I think he deserves a
party. A really good one! I don't know about you guys, but it all
happened so fast, I don't feel like we got to say goodbye the
right way. Know what I mean?"
"Dude! I've been feeling the same way!" chimed in another friend.
"We need to throw a serious, honkin' party for him! I think he
would have dug that, and I'll bet we're not the only ones who
think so. Let's send him out with a bang." There was boisterous
approval. "Think about it," added another of the poker players."
At every single bash we ever threw, who was the life of the
party? Who told the best - or worst - jokes? You guys remember.
It's not right for Buddy to leave with nothing but a puny sad
little funeral." It didn't sit well. Everyone was in complete
With the four poker pals as initial coordinators, a massive
blow-out was planned in honor of Buddy. Everyone had thoughts
about what kind of food he liked, the music that should be
played, decorations he would have enjoyed. A luau! Perfect! And
there needed to be lots and lots of humor. Buddy was known for
his quick wit and goofy party stunts. Friends reminisced about
the coconut bra, plastic lei, grass skirt and Budweiser boxers
(under the grass skirt) that he had worn to one birthday luau.
Everyone set to with enthusiasm, especially finding jokes for the
evening's celebration. A celebration of Buddy's life. "Hey,
Buddy! Betcha didn't think you'd get 'leied' tonight!" He may not
have left instructions regarding his funeral, but everyone was
crystal clear about all the stuff he loved in life and the kind
of party he would have wanted.
The night of the event, the rented hall was packed."Dead Man's
Party" by Oingo Boingo was blasting through the P.A. No one even
questioned the musical selection. Buddy would have loved the
irony and everyone knew that wherever he was, he was laughing his
In the middle of the hall, which was adorned with the tackiest
luau decorations everyone could find, there was a large sturdy
table covered with a bright orange tablecloth. Orange was Buddy's
favorite color. No doubt about that. In the middle of the
tablecloth was the urn. It was made of brass. Buddy's cousin had
checked with many of the invitees ahead of time, and there was
wholehearted agreement that Buddy should be at his own party. And
so he was. It was a little creepy at first, but as the evening
wore on and people lifted shots of Patron (Buddy's favorite
tequila) to toast Buddy's urn, it somehow morphed into Buddy
himself. Not in the flesh, but a psychological equivalent.
Everyone was achieving "closure" as they bid Buddy farewell, each
in his or her own way. "Here's to you, dude!" Shot glasses
clinked against the urn. Down the hatch!
At some point during the evening, someone said, "How cool would
it be if Buddy could come to all our parties?" It was a simple
statement, but one that sparked lively conversation and
surprisingly mutual agreement. There was only one urn, someone
pointed out. The friends and family were fairly spread out across
the country, and many expressed an interest in "sharing" Buddy.
The cousin who had received the urn lived close to the banquet
hall. "I have an idea! I'll be back in a little while." She drove
home, went to the garage, found a dusty box of canning jars, and
returned to the party. She also brought a large spoon.
When she returned, she stepped up to the microphone (provided for
jokes, toasts and testimonials) and told everyone that if they
would like to take home a little bit of Buddy, they were welcome
to do so! The glass canning jars and the large spoon were placed
on the table next to the unsealed urn. Toward the end of the
festivities, as guests started to leave, a surprising number of
them stopped by and scooped some of Buddy's ashes into a jar,
screwed on the top, and took it home. Yeah, it was one of the
stranger party favors of all time, but everyone who opted to take
one was really happy about it.
Almost no one put Buddy away in a closet or some other unseen
place. One friend put her jar on a baker's rack in the kitchen.
Buddy loved to cook. Another put his jar among a display of
baseball memorabilia. Buddy was a baseball junky. Yet another
kept him in the wet bar, next to a big bottle of Patron. And on
it went. The best part of all was that for years to come, no
matter who threw a party - a birthday luau, a guys' night out for
poker, a World Series get-together - Buddy was there. In his jar.
He was always prominently displayed, but out of harm's way, like
on the mantle of the fireplace. As friends walked past Buddy,
they paused.Shots of Patron were hoisted to the jar. *Clink.*
"Here's to you, Buddy! Cheers, you maniac!" As he always had
been, Buddy was the life of the party.