2017-04-21 / Commentary

I need to be a willow tree

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

“Are you making a photo album with those?”

My husband Marty was curious when he came home and found me surrounded by dozens of photos of myself with him, other family members, and numerous friends.

“Nope. I’m getting a montage together to be used at my memorial service in case I die when I go under the knife,” I said, smiling up at him.

“You’re WHAT?” He had stopped in his tracks and had an incredulous look on his face. “Julia…you’re not having OPEN HEART SURGERY for crying out loud!”

I’m scheduled for a knee replacement in early May, and although it’s a common procedure… you just never know. I patiently tried to explain this to Marty.

“Marty…I’m having SURGERY! People die on the operating table all the TIME! I’m merely trying to take the pressure off you in case I don’t make it.”

“You are NOT going to DIE Julia! Cut out all this drama! You’re going to get a new knee, and everything will be FINE! PERFECTLY FINE!”

Marty doesn’t like to think about death, but since I was scheduled for this knee replacement, I’ve been thinking about my demise quite a bit. Probably to the point of obsession, but I like to plan.

And IF it doesn’t go well, I want to make sure my “final farewell” is perfect! I don’t want some quickly thrown together service with an unenthusiastic group of people halfheartedly singing hymns about eternal life. And I darned sure don’t want to be laid out in some box in a funeral home with everyone I know passing by saying how “natural” I look.

I will NOT look “natural.” I will be DEAD.

And I’m far too claustrophobic to be buried. I want to be cremated, and I want my ashes planted in the roots of a willow tree, so I will become part of that tree. It’s a real thing people are doing, and I think it’s an enchanting idea. I had told Marty this when I first heard about it, but now that my “passing” was at least a possibility in the near future, I felt I needed to stress this plan a little more adamantly.

“And don’t forget… Doug has my tree.” A family friend and soon-to-be-nephew is in the funeral business, and when he read a previous column I wrote saying how nifty I thought the tree idea was, he researched it and sure enough…he found one for me. He told me on Easter, and I was ecstatic.

Marty…not so much.

“I don’t want to hear this stuff Julia. It’s a simple KNEE REPLACEMENT!!!” He was using his “don’t push me” voice, but I persevered.

“I KNOW that Marty…but they will put me out and who knows? Look at Joan Rivers…her surgery was simple too…until it wasn’t! And poof! She was a goner!”

“Julia…you will NOT die on the operating table! This doctor has done hundreds, maybe THOUSANDS of these surgeries. The worst thing that could happen is you’ll be in pain until the pills kick in. I’ll take care of you and so will a lot of other people! Now put these pictures away and STOP this nonsense!”

“Marty…if I get all this together beforehand, and you don’t need it, it won’t hurt a thing. If…well…if I don’t make it…you’ll be prepared.” I was channeling all the martyrs I knew.

“FINE! Then make your plans! You’re being ridiculous! NOTHING will go wrong.”

“Well just in case…could we talk about music? I have a few songs picked out I want to run by you…you know…to see what you think?”

“Just write it all down, and leave it on your desk. I don’t want to hear it...” He was backing out of the room now.

“OK, but just remember…I’m a donor too! Let them harvest my organs before cremation, OK? And I want a WILLOW tree! And only use PRETTY PICTURES!” I squealed this to his retreating back.

“WhatEVER,” he growled as he left the room. “I’m going out to plant the potato plants I bought. Want me to save you a pot?”

I really don’t think he’s taking the gravity of the situation seriously at all.

I’m just saying…

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