I answered a phone call yesterday which led to one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had to deal with during my career as a musician. My emotional state however, was definitely secondary, compared to the caller, who was an elderly retired Major from the Royal Engineers.
The reason for his call was that sadly he had been given just a couple of months to live by his medical advisers and was anxious to try to sort his affairs out before his health deteriorated so much that it prevented him from being able to do so. He was also keen to spare his Wife the pain and burden of having to make funeral arrangements, whilst trying to deal with the grief of losing her Husband.
This was the first time that I’d discussed a “funeral plan” with anyone, least of all the “deceased-to-be”, but, being an Army man, he was determined to tackle the issue head-on and ensure that if I was at all available, I would be willing and able to perform the “Last Post” at his funeral service. Naturally, we couldn’t discuss a date, but he gave me a reasonable timeline of how long the Doctors had given him and I assured him that I would make every effort to be there, when the time came.
Despite the tragic circumstances, this gentleman was calm and measured throughout the conversation and I drew inspiration and strength from his stoic and pragmatic approach to the situation that he found himself in. Ultimately, we all have to accept that our end will come at some point or another and if I could help and reassure this old man that I would do my best to carry out his last wishes, just as he had planned them, then I would draw on my professional experience to try to make that a reality.
Having dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s regarding the format of the service and my potential involvement, the gentleman was relieved that another element of his closing chapter had hopefully been signed off.
We ended the conversation with me wishing him a smooth passage over the coming weeks – what else can you say to a man who is dying, without sounding crass or absurd? – and a promise to do my very best to be there for his funeral and to give him a dignified send-off, worthy of an ex-Veteran. After all, as professionals in our respective fields, what else could we hope or want to do?
This is one “call to action” that I pray won’t be happening very soon, but when it does, I very much hope that I am able to respond in the most positive way that I possibly can!
For further information about Andrew Jones, Music for You and the “Last Post”, please call 07973 869621 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org