Most of the people that I associate with suffer from the same habit. That is checking the obituaries in the paper prior to the sports or comic pages. These days there isn’t much sense in reading what’s on the front page as by the time it comes out in print you’ve already heard about it on the radio, TV, internet, facebook, twitter or your cell phone. About the only things you can’t predict are the ball scores and someone dying.
Certainly everything you can read concerning politicians is fairly predictable; the same goes for movie stars and rock stars. The politicians (both parties) are caught stealing (again) and the movie and rock stars are either living with someone new or going into rehab for ‘substance’ abuse (again). So, who won the game last night after you went to bed and who died yesterday are pretty much all we have left that is current. I mentioned the comics earlier, but even the funny pages for the most part have stopped being funny and are now political rhetoric.
My wife’s’ grandmother used to tell us that she looked at the obituaries every morning to make sure she wasn’t in them. I liked her train of thought.
Writing obituaries must be a very tough job in the sense that you can’t really say that the person who died was terrrible to be around’ or ‘ hard to get along with. No, you’d have to dress it up and make it palatable so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Remind me to tell you a joke about that someday if we ever meet. I would imagine it’s hard for the writer to describe the personality of someone they don’t or will ever know in person. They just have to go by what the person placing the ad tells them.
The writer also has to be careful not to use phrasing that becomes habitual. Like the folks who write real estate ads. When they say ‘ cozy’ you know the place is small. If they say.. ‘ fixer upper .you know it’s a dump. If they say the place is ‘ remote or isolated it means you have to pack a sack lunch to drive to the closest place of civilization. The word ‘ cute’ isn’t good for real estate ads or for possible blind dates.
A couple of things about obituaries do make me wonder. Have you ever noticed that some of these folks ‘ terminated’ rather than died’ What is that about’does that mean that they failed to renew so their license was ‘ terminated’ How about they ‘departed Departed for where’ Their body is still here, so did the train pull out and leave them at the station’they should have been on board. In our part of the country you hear that someone… ‘ passed. That word always makes me think of graduating from one class to another. No, they can just announce that he died’ or even better he has moved on whenever I finally leave this old world of ours.
My last point is about the picture. Why on earth would you want to use a picture of what you looked like at age 20′ If you die at 80 years old, no one has seen that side of you for close to 60 years. Your own mother wouldn’t recognize you. No, sir put up a picture of me that shows me like I was the day before I left. I earned those age spots, those wrinkles, and those smile lines. All of those things took me a long time to accumulate and I’ m proud of them. It isn’t easy to get old in today’s world. All of us have to scramble every day just to keep our heads above water. Just getting old is an accomplishment today.
Don’t even get me started about whether I want to be buried or cremated. As far as I’ m concerned you can use whatever anyone needs of whatever I have left and then dispose of me however you see fit. I’ m not there any longer. I won’t know and I won’t care. Don’t waste a lot of money on my account. Take everyone to lunch or give some kid going to college some bucks. That makes more sense to me than some expensive box to be put into the ground. Keep me in your memory not on some cold stone in a graveyard. I’ve moved on to the next step.
I’ m in a better place with my dogs waiting for you.