David recently suggested to bloggers they try writing their own obituaries as a lesson in self-discovery. It sounds a most fascinating exercise. I like the notion of writing your own – if only to get the facts right.  One can go over these things with a diving rod and not find yourself.

I don’t care much for obituaries. They follow the same formula of listing the deceased’s many attributes and accomplishments and the sorrowful devoted relations left behind.  If you know the person, then you readily know what is NOT being said. At times you can see through the threadbare phrases, the inane expressions of sympathy, and the cautious words used to conceal the details of something ignominious or sordid.

So, what would I like in my obituary? I don’t know. David’s challenge first conjured up what I don’t want: a list of my degrees, noble generosities, and all the Spos who outlived me. I suppose these items can’t be left out; my relations won’t disallow it.

What I want are my foibles, doubts, and a few oddities – some things that make me a person.

My great aunt Peg the genealogist liked to tell us stories about our ancestors who were all so virtuous as to be boring. What we kids really wanted to know were the scandals and short-comings, but these have been lost in time. Too bad. I prefer coming from guts not from blood.

Back to the task at hand. I would like some of my failures and how I survived them nevertheless. A few of my fears should be told as well, if only to illustrate the axiom “Be Not Afraid”. Unlike Edith Piaf I will have regrets when I die; I want them posted as a warning to people to live Life and not just get through it.

The best part of writing one’s obituary is making me think what more/else do I want to do. I should travel more and worry less. There should be more time off from work to do things of real value. I want to be less a Good Boy and more The Rebel. I should discover in the nick of time Life is for living.

In my favorite short story “The Dead” Gabriel Conroy learns his wife has locked away in her heart the memory of a boy who had died for her out of love. He wonders what he has had in compared to such passion.

“One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. “

That may be what I want as my obituary:

“He passed boldly into Death with glory and passion rather than wither away in proper prudence. “

Advertisements