Notes from Jan

What a Wonderful World!

August 27, 2022

She did it again! We weren’t in the car two minutes when Poco asked me about what songs to sing at my funeral. I gripped the wheel, bit my tongue, then said, “How about, ‘Over the Rainbow?'” I know I’ve written about this before but this just happened. Again.

I don’t know what there is about me, other than I’m old or must drive strange, that prompts my Grands to want to talk about my funeral when we get in the car. Maybe it’s their folks that worry about me behind closed doors. Sometimes, to my face. Well, at least we’re on talking terms. No small fete in times like these when walls get built within families and beyond.

Actually, I’m grateful we talk about life and death issues, like it’s normal. It is. Life and death. Well, some days it’s easier to talk about aging than others. Just like it’s hard for kids to get a grip on all that’s happening to them as they’re growing and changing. We need each other.

Poco and I talked about other ideas, too. Then, we sang, “Over the Rainbow,” and “What a Wonderful World,” as we headed towards Liberty Tree Mall. I love those songs. Hymns, too. But we didn’t sing one. I know them by heart. Poco wanted to borrow my phone to hunt the lyrics.

However, we belted out, Jesus Loves Me, though she balks at “I am weak, but he is strong.” She wondered if we should add songs like, “How much is that doggy in the window?”(She loves dogs) and “I Love you a bushel and a peck.” Choice moments.

While we drove along, Precious Poco offered to write something to play on her cello. Then hummed a few bars to give me an idea of where she was headed. It varied between joyful and mournful. I chose joyful. Told her there’s enough crying going on.

Because there is. And besides our main mission was to shop for something new to wear for her first day of 6th grade. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why she zeroed in on death. Middle School’s tough for most kids. Add social media and tensions rise. She’s eleven.

Well, soon we pulled into Kohl’s parking lot. Poco’s decisive. So it didn’t take long before we found an outfit plus more. Afterwards, we lunched like ladies at Nordstrom, then to Target for locker shelves. I love being a grandmother.

I also love being part of a family that enjoys few things more than being together. For sure, my Grands put the fun in FUNeral. Reminds me of a book I found at a used book store, Being Dead is No Excuse. It’s “The official Southern ladies guide to hosting the perfect funeral.” I keep it on my coffee table for unsuspecting guests to peruse. It includes recipes. Some of which might speed the process along. No kale or fat free suggestions included.

What a wonderful world!

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  • Reply Dan Russ August 27, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Out of the mouth of babes and children–go Poco!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg August 27, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    So true, dear Dan. When she was about four, Poco wore a tee shirt that read: MY MIDDLE NAME IS FIERCE. I don’t know who bought it for her but it fit. Still does. She’ll need that toughness as she enters Middle School. And a kind and tender heart towards kids that struggle. Which she also has. I’m already praying for her teachers.

    • Reply Judy Kent August 28, 2022 at 8:58 pm

      Hello Jan,
      I continue to enjoy and appreciate your Notes from Jan. But I’m confused about how to initiate a comment or question to you. The only way I am doing this now is by choosing the REPLY link next to your own reply to Dan Russ. What am I missing?
      Thanks and regards,
      Judy Kent
      (Bob Grinnell’s former Admin)

      • Reply Jan Carlberg August 28, 2022 at 10:25 pm

        Well, knowing me, as you do, you should know better than to ask me a question that is connected to the puzzling world of technology. Myabe another one who reads this can help you, dear Judy. I’ll say this, it’s great to hear from you. Last I heard you were running the library at Brooksby Village. If that’s true, they were smart to turn it over to you. Hope you’re well. Meanwhile, you can write me at my gordon email and Ill see if I can help you out. Maybe check with June Bodoni.

  • Reply Nancy Vecchio August 27, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    Sounds so wonderful! I love being a grandmother too! Nothing like it.
    My kids don’t want to talk about funerals with us. But that’s life..part of it. My husband and I just want to plan it ahead so no worries for them when it happens. We’re moving right up that ladder to heaven and there’s no stopping it. But then who wants to? I mean when you know where you are going!
    Ty Jan for sharing your day with Poco!
    Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 27, 2022 at 5:44 pm

      You’re welcome, dear Nancy. Looking forward to having lunch with you and Margaret on Tuesday. Well, I’m happy to talk about funerals with my Grands but I’m in no hurry to have one.

  • Reply David Smith August 27, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    Elizabeth keeps balking, but I really want an oompa band at my funeral. With dancing. And, yes, with horrors to our mutual Baptist upbringings, a keg!

    But that said, I think we all need to celebrate life a lot more, here and now! Why wait till the train gasps to a final stop?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 27, 2022 at 9:42 pm

      Preach it, David! Years ago I heard this illustration by Mike Yaconelli, pastor, writer and co-founder of Youth Specialites. He likened the Christian life to a rollercoaster ride. It’s full of surprise twists and turns, slow climbs, then downward plunges, and times that take your breath away. And then all of a sudden it screeches to a stop. Ride over. He said when my life’s ride is over, I hope to be shouting to the heavens,”What a ride!”
      So oompa bands, dancing and kegs may be another way to shout, “My awesome, creative, wonder-full God, what a ride!”

  • Reply Jeanne Smith August 27, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    I love how you describe your shared times. I am always so grateful that our farthest away family is 12 miles – so unusual in today’s world. Like you, we are helping 14 of our Grands as they prepare to leave for or return to college – some with great eagerness and other more with some anxiety. I keep each of them in my daily prayers as I ask our dear Lord to take care of them. God bless you, Jan, and thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 27, 2022 at 9:47 pm

      Dear Jeanne, you are blessed to have 14 grands and family so close to you. What a privilege to pray for our children, grands, this old world and more. And what an important way to spend part of what remains of our “wild ride.”

  • Reply Randall Mathews August 27, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Dear, dear Jan:

    Your last few blogs have been a pleasure to read.Still think that you ought to consider publishing them. They would bring a lot of joy and inspiration to many of your readers.

    Miss those wonderful warm hugs from Poco., What a wonderful relationship you have with her, Jan. She is “special.”

    Love and prayers,


    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 27, 2022 at 9:57 pm

      And we miss you and Alice so much, dear Randy. Poco is a hoot and a half. Maggie’s entering high school A 9th grader. She’s planning on singing at my funeral also and playing her viola!! I am grateful to have two Grands nearby. but technology keeps me close to the ones in California. As one country western singer reminds, “Don’t Blink.” Life’s over so fast and it’s easy to miss what matters most. So I ask Jesus, daily, to help me pay attention. Meanwhile, I send hugs to you and Alice, in Illinois. Land that I love, since I was born in Chicago.

  • Reply Cheryl August 27, 2022 at 11:38 pm

    Just God bless you! Your family must be so much fun to be with and being a Grandma is the best. I love that she let you take her shopping and I so love your outlook on life.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 29, 2022 at 12:16 pm

      Well, dear Cheryl, being a Grand is a privilege and responsibility, like parenting only without so many demands on time and energy. The best I do is love them (and their parents) and pray. It’s tough to be a kid or be old today. So much external and internal pressures, as well as changing bodies. It helps to laugh, mostly at myself,which frees them to do likewise.

  • Reply Nancy Sheys August 28, 2022 at 10:28 am

    It is fun being an 83 year old grandmother. During a recent visit to my littles, 5 year old Alec asked many unfiltered questions. “Nana, why are your teeth yellow”. I have ancient gold caps on two back teeth that brought, “Nana, what is that gold in your mouth?” I reactivity said, “That is my bling,” then we talked about gold and it’s value. It’s hard to stifle the laughs, especially when you see the parent’s reaction. Pure joy! I love your blogs.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 29, 2022 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks, dear Nancy. ” That’s my bling.” I like that image. Keep spreading joy.

  • Reply dale August 28, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    Poco’s comments remind of the Art Linkletter show, “Kids say the funniest things.” Our son, years ago, had brain surgery (I would add serious, but the brain part covers that). He had huge stiches in the side of his shaven head which everyone, except one child, ignored. This perceptive child said, “Hey mister, what’s wrong with your head,” which brought a great smile to Doug. I find myself being more natural and open with our grandkids which likely requires a psychological evaluation to interpret, but I am thankful there are 9 of them to keep me honest and humble. Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 29, 2022 at 12:25 pm

      Well, my dear brother Dale, your Grannds are blessed to have you and Marty as GRANDparents. I love the honesty of kids. Most of the time. Until now, I never had the courage to ask you, “What’s wrong with YOUR head?” Never mind. I know. It’s your bright, witty, detail grab and retain, disciplined, slightly askew brain that’s kept us friends for decades. Add loyal and wise to the mix as another reminder that opposites attract to keep friendships balanced and thriving. Thanks.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe August 28, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Jan, if you really want to put the FUN into your funeral someday (may it not be for several decades hence, please), I suggest that your family host it while you are still with us. This is my wish for my funeral someday as well. Mike’s aunt Trish was failing some years ago and on hospice care, and the decision was made to have her Celebration of Life Service during our annual family reunion when everyone was already planning to be together. Trish rallied, but insisted we go ahead with plans so she could attend. She came in a wheelchair dressed in her finest, corsage and all, and had the best time listening to the planned eulogies and singing her favorite hymns with us. To this day it ranks as the best funeral I ever attended!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 29, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      I heard of that idea but never attended a funeral rehearsal. Kudos to Mike’s aunt Trish, and to you, dear Maggie, for reminding folks there are options. However, I’m not quite ready to take the leap. Poco and I are still making choices on songs.

  • Reply Wendy August 28, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Oh my goodness – I loved this! It reminds me of when my Dad (who had dementia) was planning his funeral one day. I think I may have told you this story, but he told my Mom all his plans: my oldest brother play the piano, my 2nd brother officiate (he is a pastor), my 3rd brother play the trumpet – all very appropriate, and then me and my sisters be the bridesmaids! 🙂
    I loved reading everyone’s reply’s too – especially Maggie Rowes – that’s fabulous!! Haha!
    I truly hope and pray it’s a long, LONG time before you have your funeral, unless it’s one like Maggie’s Trish! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 29, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      Feels good to laugh, which I did reading that your Dad wanted you and your sisters to be bridesmaids at his funeral. I never heard the story before, dear Wendy, so you’ve not reached that stage where one tends to repeat a story more than once. A day!

      • Reply Wendy August 29, 2022 at 3:50 pm

        Haha well that’s encouraging!

  • Reply Carolyn Sylvester August 28, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    Jan, As usual – you made me chuckle and smile. Thanks! I’m babysitting (can you call it that when they are going into 5, 3, and K??) 3 grandsons for 3 days this week. Camp is over and school doesn’t start until after Labor Day. I am glad I am retired so I can help! Getting old(er) is fun after all, isn’t it! Hugs, from Carolyn

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 29, 2022 at 12:34 pm

      Yes, dear Carolyn, getting older is a lot more fun than I imagined. Then, again, it’s laugh or die. Or die laughing.

  • Reply Linda Moore August 29, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    Jan-You can take ANY topic and bring both encouragement, inspiration and a smile! You did again–I’m still smiling!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 30, 2022 at 4:13 pm

      Well, that made me smile, dear Linda. I always love seeing your name pop up. I imagine you’ve been asked to sing at many funerals over the years. Probably never sang, “How much is that doggy in the window?”(Unless it was for a pet funeral!)

  • Reply Toni Lovingood August 31, 2022 at 8:32 am

    I sit here on the last day of August finishing my year of The Hungry Heart. I started it last Sept. 1st. God in his timing knew exactly when I needed it. Our precious daughter went home to be with the Lord Aug. 15th at age 49. She battled leukemia nine years ago and had a bone marrow transplant and many procedures through that time. We were having a great year and a non-Covid cold led to pneumonia and 37 days in the hospital. She knew suffering, but she knew the Saviour too. As The Hungry Heart took me through Job it reminded me that the Lord gives and the Lord has taken away, yet we will trust him. Renae’s son was nine when she was diagnosed and she lived to raise him to be a man of twenty. He will become a dad to twin boys in less than six weeks. Your posts and writings always lift me up. Who knew that your book written in 1991 would provide through God’s word such a soothing balm of comfort in this time of sorrow? God did. There are no surprises to him. Ken and I look back now and see how God was preparing us in big and small ways for what he had prepared for us. Many blessings to you Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 31, 2022 at 5:24 pm

      Oh, dear Toni, I ‘m so sorry to learn of your daughter, Renae’s, death. My daughter is just a little older and I connect in that small way to your suffering. My heart hurts for you, your family and Renae’s. She was a courageous woman to endure what she did to prolong her life and raise her son. Thank you for sharing that something I wrote so long ago was helpful to you. I have no more words, but will pray, entrusting you all to Jesus who knows all and loves you more than you imagine or feel sometimes.

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