Tuesday, April 16, 2024

THE AL GILKES COLUMN – Give me a sad funeral


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Recently I have found myself thinking about what it’s going to be like when I come to the end of my days and the kind of send-off I would like to have.
Only yesterday morning I would have joined former co-workers and friends of the journalism fraternity, especially of the Nation family, to bid a final farewell to Tony Vanterpool, a legend of the profession who had been a mentor, father figure and close friend.
And the day before I opened my weekend Nation to find an obituary about the departure of St Lucy undertaker “Selly” Griffith, who had been one of the boys with whom I used to run about way back when I was a Selah Boys’.
These days, I am fully aware that any time could be mine to be summoned from my seat in the departure lounge for my own trip to the other side. In earlier years, I used to jokingly tell my family that when that time came, I wanted my send-off to start with all the rhythm, drumming, stomping and joyful noises of Bishop Granville Williams’ congregation at Ealing Grove, Christ Church, followed by a long, slow drive along the ABC and Ronald Mapp Highways to St Lucy’s Parish Church.
There I would be interred with my father, grandparents, uncles, aunts and other members of that side of the family, and even more joyful noise by the likes of an Edwin Yearwood and krosfyah or a then Allison Hinds and Square One.
I want a real old-time funeral, and the first thing to remember is that if it is possible for a corpse or the spirit to see, I want to see everybody dressed in true funeral colours of black and white. Next, I want to see nuff tears and hear nuff bawling with people moaning, groaning and collapsing all over the church in grief.
When you come to the casket to look down at me for the final time, I don’t want you smiling at me. Rather, I want to see every eye red from crying and feel the tears falling down on my chest like rain pouring through a hole in the church roof over me.
The hymns and songs chosen for the occasion must be selections that will make even a dead man like me cry.
And if you are paying verbal tributes or delivering the eulogy, leave out the jokes. I don’t want anybody laughing at a time when I can’t even grin. So whatever you say about what I had been and what you remember of me, every word should cause more tears to fall and more screams to rent the air with agony. Same thing goes for the sermon, especially if my good friend Rev. Dr Wesley Hall is the one chosen.
Finally, when my remains are being lowered into the grave, the mood must be reminiscent of Jackie Opel’s funeral when, at that moment, the Mighty Charmer screamed: “Jackie, I coming with you” and leapt into the air. Fortunately, Charmer was jockey size and weight and two people were able to catch him in mid-flight and return him safely to solid ground.
Wunna like dah, nuh!
Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.Email algilkes@gmail.com

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