Little House on the Prairie?
One of my favorite episodes shares the title of this post (yes, I totally plagiarized it, but look, now I'm giving credit where it's due). The premise is that Miss Amy, one of the elderly residents of Walnut Grove, decides to stage her own funeral (with the reluctant help of the Ingalls family and Doc Baker) in order to get her family to pay her a visit. And it works. Not only is she able to attend her own wake, she is able to overhear many fond memories and thoughts in her behalf. When Miss Amy finally reveals to her children that she is, in fact, alive and well - they are upset with her. What happens next is the part that really gets me thinking.
Miss Amy's daughter asks her, How could you do it? How could you let them tell us you were dead? And then her son adds, You had no right, Mother!
Here is Miss Amy's reply:
Rights? You're talking about rights? Whose rights? I've got a right to see my own children and grandchildren. It comes before anything else! And you ask how I could do it. Well, it isn't hard when you've tried everything else, when you're so hungry for the sight and feel of your family. You can't sleep at night thinking of them, and when it comes to you, the one thing that will bring them to you is your own wake...well, it isn't hard to do at all. Sean, I heard you say it. "Why is it," you said, "you have to wait until they're gone before you know what they mean to you"? Well, you mean everything to me, you three. 80 years old, and I don't have many birthdays left. Maybe...maybe not even one. And when you think of that, you have...you have to be foolish.
Every year when Memorial Day weekend rolls around, I think of this episode.
I think of my Dad's funeral and what a remarkable gathering it was.
I think of how much he would have loved being there, reminiscing with old friends, laughing over memories of days past, hearing about how much his friendship and kindness had influenced others.
And, like Miss Amy, I wonder - why do we wait? Why do we hold back and not let others know how great we think they are or how much we love them and treasure the times we've shared? Why don't we make time to enjoy these relationships while those we care for are still around to enjoy them with us? Why should we wait until a funeral to really come to understand and express how much someone means to us?
I think Miss Amy was on to something.