Okay, so I read the obits. So what? I bet you do too. I bet everyone over the age of 40 reads them, or younger if you are Italian. I bet you wonder what killed them if it doesn’t say. I do, especially if they are young- or my age. Sometimes you can tell by the charity chosen to donate to. Sometimes it is the Humane Society, so then you’re left to wonder.
I started reading the obits in my 20’s. My mom read them too. She would call me when I lived in San Francisco and she lived in Marin- and ask me to check the San Francisco obits for relatives and friends.
My reasons for reading them now are two-fold. Or so I tell myself anyway. First because I do have a morbid curiosity to know if anyone I know died. Second, I like to critique them. Now the latter sounds bad- but I can’t help it. It has made me somewhat obsessive about my own obit, so I am either going to write it myself- or possibly trust my son to make it a good one. (Depending on how much of a surprise my departure is.)
I am particularly curious about the people that lived to be ninety and their obituary has almost nothing in it. Mind you, I don’t want mine to read every little detail. “Katie was wild as a youth, ran away from home several times, was somewhat promiscuous in her twenties (it was the 70’s people) and drank like a fish until she was in her late thirties.”
No, I don’t want that. (Nick, please note.) But some accomplishments- other than giving birth to an awesome kid- would be nice. And if I died of being hit by a big old bus- then say so- I don’t want my friends and other obit aficionados to wonder how I ended up wherever I end up.
I live where I grew up, so I’m seeing more and more names I know in the obits these days. Most of them I haven’t seen in forty years- so I won’t be running off to their funerals. That would be too Harold and Maude, even for me.
Lately, I’ve found a couple of other good uses for obits. Character names and profiles are a plenty in that section. Of course, I mix and match- but grabbing real careers and names makes very believable characters.
Lastly- reading the obits really reminds me to live like there is no tomorrow. Live passionately and be true to yourself- because it may be a one-trip deal. (As much as I like the thought of reincarnation- just in case- I like to hedge those bets.)
So here is hoping I don’t see your name anytime soon and if you see mine- I hope the following blurb gives you a couple of laughs.