It is my honor to present Robert's eulogy today.
He was my best friend.
At 66, Robert was taken way too young, but, like so many baby boomers, he lived life to the fullest –– and we will celebrate his funeral to the fullest.
I'm still in shock over the freak accident that claimed Robert's life.
He'd been living at a Buddhist monastery for only one month when it happened.
Instead of meditating and practicing yoga like the others, Robert, always the debater, peppered the monks on points of philosophy.
One morning he was found dead in an alley with sandal-scuff marks on his robe, and a small statue of the Buddha stuffed down his throat.
Apparently, he'd fallen out a window.
But that was Robert. Like so many in our generation, he always did things his way.
I still laugh about the stunts he pulled in college.
To protest man's massacre of the Earth, he kidnapped the dean's toupee and threatened not to return it –– until a local coal mine was shut down.
I remember his first wedding. He and his bride-to-be got married at the top of Niagara Falls, then went over the falls in a barrel.
When Robert had a son and daughter with his second wife –– his first wife had died in a tragic accident at Niagara Falls –– he shunned traditional names.
He named his son Top Soil, because the rich dirt is vital to survival, and his daughter Oxygen, because he wanted others to "breathe in her beauty."
Well, now that Robert has passed on, it is only fitting that his funeral would also be unique.
So many aging boomers are planning unusual funerals, in fact, that several media outlets have been reporting on the trend.
Some boomers are having poems and inscriptions painted on their caskets. Some are being buried with their pets. Others plan to put on big presentations and broadcast them over the Internet for others to see.
Now that boomers are nearing 70 and beginning to pass on in sizable numbers, the funeral industry is one of the few to thrive in our struggling economy.
Smart Money says: "After five years of losses, the funeral industry is expected to see revenue rise almost 3 percent this year, and is projecting small but steady growth over the next five years as well."
Lucky for us, Robert was happy to oblige!
He carefully planned this, his last public event, well before his unexpected demise.
First, you may notice that Robert's casket is unusual. It is actually a custom-made cryogenic freezer in which Robert will be preserved until advances in technology can bring him back.
Second, Robert had planned a massive party after this funeral service that he referred to as his "Earth wake!"
A Bob Dylan impersonator will perform, and an open bar and buffet will be provided. There will be a $10 cover.
Third, Robert has purchased a complimentary monk's robe and sandals for everyone in attendance, to help each of you begin your own spiritual journey.
Robert hopes you will one day become as enlightened as he.
Last, by dying so young, Robert figured he would save our country hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicare and Social Security costs.
He figured it was OK to raid his children's college fund to pay for this funeral –– sorry, Top Soil and Oxygen.
He figured the government ought to pick up their college tab as a sort of trade-off.
That concludes this portion of Robert's funeral service.
Could someone please help me move Robert's cryogenic casket to the concert area?
Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune- Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.