Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thinking About My Obituary

Do not be alarmed. I am in this for the long haul. The rumors of my impending death have been greatly exaggerated.

I'm kidding. I am not ill and death is nowhere nearby. That I know of.  But I have to comment on obituaries because they have become another out of control thing in our society.

Around here, and this is small town America, we get a daily paper that gives the news from around town and it sometimes has to stretch to cover its pages, so we get ridiculous snippets and pictures of things that no one cares about (like a picture of a car dealership that had a customer on President's Day.  Whoooopeee). And now, they have allowed people to start embellishing the obituaries. Have they started doing this with the newspaper you read?

It used to be that there was a person who actually wrote obits. You would tell them the important facts about family, jobs, where they lived, and a pretty standard obit was produced. If you wanted to pay more, you could have a little more added.

About 2 years ago, I noticed that some obits were longer than others. And then I started reading some, because curiosity got the better of me. OMG. Apparently, you can now let a 3rd grader write your obituary, if you're willing to pay more. The grammar is appalling and the things they write about.....

I suppose I should not make light of such a heavy topic. But who am I kidding? I have to. I can't hold it in anymore. I probably should write mine now, lest some child be allowed to write mine when I kick the bucket.

I read these tomes and see things like:

he graduated from xyz elementary school (the guy was in his 20s)

everyone knows he was the best papa ever (did you know that? I didn't)

he and his wife bought a condo in f-town so they could be weekenders and get to know the neighbors

she never meant anyone any harm

she was the best knitter in town (this makes me the saddest because they had nothing, so they grasped at straws here)

There have been so many more, I wish I had kept track.  I notice that the most notorious bad asses seem to be getting the longest epistles lately.  Like talking about his delivery of Meals on Wheels might make us forget the time he held up the corner store.
I don't know.  I haven't had to write an obituary, thank God, so maybe this is a relief.  Maybe I am very mean and should go straight to hell.

But there is something about this that also makes me sad.  What if you don't have a family member who is wordy?  What if your family thinks that obituaries are just the facts ma'am?  What if your obituary is 3 inches long and has to sit next to the meanest bully in high school's obituary that's 8 inches long?  How sad is that?

And one more thing.  I also notice lately that the page for obituaries is no longer limited to just obituaries and things related to dying, like funeral homes and such.  They throw anything they want on there, if it's a slow obit day.  I often see the Court Report right there next to some obituaries!  Is nothing sacred?

If your local newspaper doesn't have a Court Report, let me fill you in.  It's the local listing of those who have had to go to court over various things from drugs, to assault and battery, to larceny.  It lists the person's name, address and their offense.  I often skim them to see which of my former students and classmates are listed.  Rarely a day goes by that I don't know someone, having graduated from high school in this town and having taught here for 15 years.  And rarely a name comes up that surprises me.  Though there have been a few that have just about blown my head off with shock, most have allowed me to do the told-you-so dance.  I knew in 6th grade he/she wasnt' long for a life free of crime.
The one that still makes me smirk, and shouldn't, is a girl.  In 6th grade,she came to me, so horrified that there was a swear word written in a desk.  She was so cute and little and demure.  So, I did what I tell kids when they are shocked and appalled.  I said "ok, well, then don't sit there if it bothers you"  What, am I supposed to haul out the Comet and start scrubbing right there in the middle of class?  Bring out my sandpaper so I can sand down the carving of "asshole" while everyone continues reciting vocabulary?  If you don't like it, park your butt somewhere else and only pester me with serious things, like "I'm going to faint" or "John just bashed my face with is binder".  But I digress.  By 8th grade, this girl was all about being bad and that little demure girl had more swears in her mouth than quills on a porcupine.  I used to smirk when I'd hear about her shenanigans and think about that horribly offended 11 year old.  Maybe it was all my fault.  Maybe if I'd called the police and had them arrest the bastard who'd written such offensive words (I actually think it might have been THIS SUCKS that she had seen, not even a swear) maybe then she would have remained chaste and wholesome.  Maybe it's all because of my "who the hell cares, I have French to teach" attitude that she went south.  My point is that she has sailed across the Court Report countless times in her life and I snicker each time I think about her horror at the swear word.

Here's my final point.  When I die, I swear to God if you put my obituary on the same page as the Court Report, I'm coming back.  I don't care how much you have to pay, so help me, if I have to spend eternity knowing that my final remembrance had to sit beside a list of assholes who can't keep their shod feet to themselves and just say no to drugs, I will never forgive you. And I'll be sure to give them your name when I get there and tell them you can't come in. Not even with a hall pass.

1 comment:

  1. She was the best knitter in town? God, if that's all people have to say about me, just shoot me!
    I solemly swear to you that I will single-handedly make sure that when you die, they don't put your obit. next to the court report.
    You may rest easy! xoxoxox


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