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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
© Peary Perry
Comments go to email@example.com
From North America - November 4, 2009 column
in 80 newspapers
Online Magazine | Columns |