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 agreement.
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 ass off.
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
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