Last week my friend, Marilee, and I met for lunch for the purpose of me giving her a list of things to do when I’m dead. She ordered a salad and I ordered a turkey wrap.

I said, “Would you say my eulogy?”

“Let me hear it first.”

I read, “Saralee was the first old Jewish woman to take a spacewalk from the International Space Station, where she established the first orbiting satellite Kosher deli.”

Marilee was wide-eyed.

“Saralee won her 10th Pulitzer Prize for her bestselling book, I Found My Cell Phone in My Casket. In later life, she was honored at the Kennedy Center, where she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for The Greatest Humanitarian in the Entire Universe — and Elsewhere.”

Marilee sat back, shook her head, and said, “I refuse to say any of that.”

“Well, would you put my obituary in the paper?”

“I’ll need to hear that first too.”

“Saralee’s funeral will be at the bus station tomorrow at noon. No early birds, please! It will be catered by Burger King. BYOB.”

I told Marilee, “Make sure nobody gets any crumbs on my outfit. I want to be buried in my clown suit. It’s the red one hanging in my closet. Definitely not the black one or the yellow one or the green one.

Oh, can you post the obit on Twitter?”

She said, “No.”

I went on: “Saralee’s rented 14-karat-gold casket will be surrounded by a one-day-only yard sale with all of her stuff. Everything must go! Items include: vintage, original, black-and-white photos of Saralee at summer camp when she was elected Miss Wohelo for winning their famous beauty and talent contest.

“There will also be leftover pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream in a freezer. And so much more! All sales are final, since there’s nowhere to return anything anyway.”

I finished my turkey wrap, and then continued, “Proceeds will go to the Red Cross, which was founded by Saralee and Clara Barton, who was so overwhelmed with charitable odds and ends that she asked Saralee to do the field work of helping millions of people.”

Marilee agreed to helping with the pets and other sane things on my list, but she thought my eulogy and obit were warped.

We walked arm and arm to our cars. Overwhelmed with loving gratitude, I took her in my arms, hugged her to me tightly, and whispered in her ear, “If you want to cremate me, I could live with that. Just make sure I’m dead first.”


Award-winning nationally syndicated columnist Saralee Perel can be reached at or via her website:

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