I’m going to die.
Oh, don’t worry – it won’t be anytime soon, at least as far as I know. But someday, for sure. We’re all going to die. It’s one of those inconvenient truths that most of us don’t want to face.
A wise person prepares for this eventuality. Some concentrate on getting straight with God. Others spend quality time with their loved ones. Still others pick out their caskets and plan their funerals.
These are all worthy pursuits, but don’t neglect the most important thing, writing your obituary.
Your obituary is the most important essay of your life. This summation of you is probably the only time your life story will be printed in the newspaper for the world to see. (This assumes you never get a Nobel Prize or shoot off a machine gun from the bell tower of your alma mater.)
Such a vital task shouldn’t be left to chance. When the sad day arrives, family members will be too grief-stricken to do a good job. Even worse, this little chore might be left to an impersonal funeral director who didn’t even know you. They’re sure to leave out all sorts of important things.
That is why I suggest you write your own obituary. I have. Here’s my latest draft:
Today, choruses of seraphim and cherubim sang as Heaven welcomed home beloved wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, sister-in-law, cousin, great aunt, second cousin, daughter-in-law, mentor, teacher, idol, practically a model, trusted agent and friend, Peg-o-Leg.
She was born in Michigan not too long ago, the true joy and absolute delight of her parents. They also had some other kids.
Peg grew daily in beauty, wisdom and accomplishment through childhood. In high school she was prom queen, homecoming queen, star of all the musicals, salutatorian, valedictorian, was voted Most Likely To Succeed and Most Popular while still being really nice to everybody, even the nerds.
Her hometown waved a fond yet regretful farewell when she left for Michigan State University. During her Spartan career she was Campus Sweetheart all four years, not that she cared about such things. Peg was a real Renaissance woman, garnering awards in the arts, sciences, and all other areas of study. She had a keen thirst for knowledge the likes of which her professors had never seen before. She graduated with a BA in business administration.
Though courted and feted on all sides, Peg gave her heart and hand to Bill in a ceremony that many likened to the Charles/Lady Di wedding, but with longer lasting results. They were blessed with two daughters, Liz and Gwen, who were the most wonderful children to ever come down the birth canal.
In addition to her full-time duties as loving wife, mother and insurance agent, Peg found time to indulge in a few hobbies. A greatly abbreviated list of her accomplishments (really, REALLY, greatly abbreviated, a lot) includes:
- Sailed around the world on a 20-foot ship that she made in her craft room, living solely on food she caught herself or got from friendly natives in trade for handmade, recycled woolen handbags
- Cured cancer (with a little help from a science nerd she was nice to in high school)
- Her blog, Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, was a permanent fixture on the WordPress front page, inspiring them to rename the honor previously known as “Freshly Pressed” to “Pegly Pressed.”
- Sang The Flower Duet (both parts at once) so beautifully that, as critics said, “the angels wept”
- Danced the lead in Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Ballet as honorary Prima Ballerina
- Her first novel shot to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List and remained there for 4 years, as did each of her 78 subsequent works. The resultant comparisons with previous literary giants had many pundits saying, “Shakespeare…who?”
- That same first novel was chosen Oprah’s Book Club’s Top Pick Of All Time, which led to her deep and lasting friendship with Oprah, who will deliver her eulogy.
Those who knew Peg said she didn’t look a day over 45 35, with her smooth, wrinkle/stray hair/liver spot-free face and still va-va-voom, hot body, which was totally all natural and had nothing to do with cosmetic surgery, no matter what some spiteful, old cats might say.
Space limitations prevent us from listing the whole roster of grieving family members and friends who survive her.
Rest in peace, Peg-o-Leg, gone much too soon at the age of ______.
You’ll want to have a really good head shot ready to go along with the obituary. Maybe go to one of those glamour photo places, but don’t get anything too slutty. Remember this is for posterity. Make sure your hairdo and glasses aren’t too trendy, or the photo may look dated in just a few years. If you pop off at 90 and your picture shows a 17-year-old with a beehive hairdo and cat’s-eye glasses, people might suspect it wasn’t taken recently.
Don’t be tempted to substitute a celebrity photo for one of you. No matter how much you thought you looked like Elizabeth Taylor when you were alive, people probably won’t believe that a picture of her as Maggie in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is you.
One more thing…I sense a little skepticism about the accomplishments listed in my obituary. While it may be true that I haven’t actually done one or two of the items on that list yet, keep in mind that this won’t be published for many, MANY years to come.
I’m sure I’ll get around to doing all of that stuff before I kick the bucket.