This Month we explore CHOICES:
I admit it. I look at the obits.
At first I was looking for interesting names for characters in my stories. Of course, the headliner in the paper lists formal monikers like: Willoughby or Fitzhugh, but when I mined the copy, I discovered golden nicknames like; Bezy or Jop. Those two names sound like a couple who fight about how to hang toilet paper, and give their cell phones to the needy.
Then I got hooked by the stories of people’s lives. It made me wonder:
- Did that degree from Princeton make a difference in the job they had by life’s end?
- How could a woman survive 3 husbands?
- Her pet was cremated with her?
If there’s a photo, I try to see the untold story in the lines and smiles of their faces. Written by family members, obits often unwittingly contain clues like: All her children, except Bill and his wife, were there as Mimi took her last breath.
Boy Bill, are you and the missus in trouble.
The obits remind me of choices. We fret about whether to go to college. What job to take. Who to marry—or not. How many—if any—kids to have. Travel? Learn a language?
All ponderous choices, and the end result is the same. One day we’ll find ourselves in the obits. To make decisions I used to apply the adage: Will it matter in 5 years. Now, I ask myself: How will it look in the obits? Usually the choice isn’t even important enough to be mentioned in a 300 word life summary—which kind of puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?
So go ahead—make choices like sharing your final resting place with your deceased pet, but if you’re Bill and Mrs. Bill, don’t expect the rest of the family to choose come to your funeral.