While gathering material for the book I was writing, I spoke to a funeral director who related his vivid recollections of a pre-planned memorial affair. Here is his story, as excerpted from Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story’s Epilogue:
A Michigan pre-planner from a conservative, religiously oriented town steeped in tradition chose to "stray from the beaten path." Though, in deference to family needs, a church Mass preceded his social reception, he had only cared about having an elegant wine and cheese cocktail party that would mimic one he had attended for the opening of an antique shop. With passionate zeal, this consummate gentleman, who had been reputed for his fabulous dinner parties, planned every single detail of the pre-funded event that he envisioned, including the brand of whiskey, type of mustard, and placement of design elements. As a window dresser for a department store, he had an artistic flair that directed him toward an Asian theme, with bird of paradise floral arrangements to complement it. He wanted all of the townsfolk to feel welcome, so when he wrote his own obituary he included an open-ended invitation to this two-hour event. Upon his death, the funeral director used the man's handwritten notations to implement arrangements. Though about one hundred people were expected to attend, three hundred showed up, and they had such a good time that it was in full swing for six hours. There were no memorial tributes at this one. It was all about an occasion graced by ambience that epitomized the spirit and the style of this individual.