Friday, February 26, 2010

A Future Problem Solved

autostumble      Several days ago a few of us were solving the world’s most serious problems over coffee and dessert, when the subject of obituaries came up. (You can tell what we consider to be serious world problems.)
      I believe the subject arose because someone mentioned an obit two full columns in length, which had appeared in that morning’s newspaper. The writer mentioned everything from the deceased’s having shoveled snow for his neighbors at the age of nine, to his career as a distinguished textbook author and educator. We agreed that it was probably a self-written obit because no one other than the man himself would have known all the intimate details included.
      Someone asked me if I was going to write my obit. I have thought about it since then, and I have decided that it’s a good idea. I will mention everything from the time I read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica at the age of four, through my post-graduate degrees in nuclear physics and rocket science from MIT, and on to my distinguished career as the President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Might as well toot my own horn a little bit.
      Hey, it’s my obit, and I can write what I want. (I am sure that many people who know me will be willing to make little corrections here and there.) Besides, I won’t have to listen to what people are saying.
      Since newspapers charge handsomely for obits these days, whoever is handling my affairs at the time can ascertain the price of printing my “novelette,” and make enough deletions to get it down to a reasonable cost. Like, maybe zero.
      Seriously, the paper lists all deaths, but some are asterisked to indicate that no obit appears. I thought perhaps the names were listed before the obit was prepared, but I found out that in many cases the family had just decided not to print one. I could go for that.
      Getting back to our problem solving group, the subject then shifted to the pictures accompanying some obits. Solly Needleman, age 93, passed into rest, yada, yada, yada. The obit photo is Solly’s high school graduation picture! Sometimes another picture portrays Solly at a later, not necessarily recent, time. What’s the use? Neither one looks like Solly. If they printed one that looks like him at the age of 93, he would be mortified.
      I have often thought that a memorial service should be a celebration of the deceased’s life. That’s what I want , complete with wine and cheese. And no pictures, please.

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