Sunday, March 9, 2008

When I Die

"And when I die,
And when I'm gone,
There'll be one child born
In this world to carry on, to carry on."
- And When I Die (Laura Nyro - as recorded by Blood, Sweat and Tears)

A death in the family has a way of focusing one's attention. Space isn't the Final Frontier, death is. Everyone should write a letter such as the following.

To my wife and children:

First off, I want to be cremated. Under no circumstances is this to occur at the _____ Funeral Home in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, WA. You know why I feel this way. What you do with me after that is up to you, but I do have a few suggestions: the Kootenai Falls on the Kootenai River between Troy and Libby, Montana; Flathead Lake south of Kalispell, Montana; Puget Sound in Washington; the outfield grass at Safeco Field (they don't actually allow this, it's just wishful thinking). If you pick Port Townsend, my preference is for Marshall's Folly - the underwater acreage south of the downtown ferry dock or anywhere in Chief Chetzemoka Park.

At some point you will open my legal documents that convey my love for you in a monetary sense. As I'm writing this, there isn't much, but that will change (could be even less!). If I still have life insurance, you are all named beneficiaries.

As for my stuff, I'll leave it to you to sort it out. I don't care who gets what, just that each of you wants what you get. If my clothes don't suit _____ , as to fit or style I'm not gonna feel bad that they are given away. I kept some of my dad's clothes after he died but eventually donated them after I was able to let go. You will know when that time comes. Hopefully I spent enough time sorting, consolidating and tossing that tidying up won't be a large burden. Mom knows I'm right, she just has a hard time letting go. You'll know how successful I was by the size of the job with which you are confronted. Bonne chance! You might want to hold an estate sale - you won't believe what people will buy. Whatever you don't want and can't sell should be donated to Goodwill Industries.

My legacy to all of you is my music in whatever form that takes. My goal was to record at least a rough version of everything I ever wrote - even "Goin' Down to the Banana House" (well maybe not that one...). I wanted to get it all down in a digital format for ease of transporting and sharing. Hopefully I got that done. There are also several notebooks of lyrics, song ideas, etc. stretching back to my teen years.

You can hold a memorial service if you wish, at the location of your choice. I have three requests: that it be held in a church (not a funeral home), that there is music, and that a rendition of "Harvest Time" (aka "The Reaper") is played. The writer's name is D.W. Spencer in case you need to look it up. There is at least one copy of the music and lyrics with my other musical literature. Whatever else you do is up to you - services are for the living. But please, no three hour marathons. If _____ is still around, I know she will make a musical contribution.

And lastly, I want you to know that I love each of you. You each have unique gifts to share with the world and it has always been my self-centered conceit that I did everything I could to encourage and support each of you in the development of your unique talents.

I love you,

Kim Miller - husband, friend, father

(complete lyrics here:

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