SOAR Sponsors Senior Health Fair, May 16
Bucking Trend Toward Aging in Place
Never too Late to Create!
of All Political Stripes Must Become ‘Foxhole Buddies’
Legislation Proposed to Prevent Medicare Fraud
Medicare Regulation Draws Fire
Health: Should We Be Afraid of H1N1?
Thoughts: Living With ‘Type A’ Personality
Gougherty: Social Security Pushed to Back Burner — Obama
Needs to Act Now
Ruhig: Happy Springtime, a Bristlecone Footnote
Corner: Still Looking for That ‘Free’ Lunch
When It Comes to Writing Your Own Obituary …
I do not have a death wish. I repeat, I do not have a death wish. But
as surely as the night follows day, one day I will die. When that time
comes, I wonder what they’ll say — and most especially
what they’ll write — about me when I’m gone.
Well, according to Nelda Stuck, former newspaper editor and award-winning journalist,
you can have a lot to say about yourself after you’re gone. When it comes
to your obituary, the secret is to write it yourself!
Yep, it’s the only way to ensure that the facts are accurately written,
with nothing important omitted. After you’ve completed the task, then file
it in your desk drawer and store a backup copy in your safe deposit box.
And while you’re at it, go one step farther to ease the burden on your
family, who will have enough to worry about when you die — write out your
final wishes regarding your preference for a funeral home and burial (cremation
or traditional), or your desire to be an organ donor.
Hey, this need not be a maudlin topic. After all, as long as I’m writing
and you’re reading this column, then we’re both still very much alive,
right? And if you take a moment to think it through, it’s an act of kindness
and downright mercy to have things pre-planned and in place for our families.
Doing so simplifies things for them at a time when they’re coping with
shock, sadness and grief.
By the way, many folks give specific instructions for a memorial service to their
house of worship to keep on file.
And hey, I think I like Nelda Stuck’s do-it-yourself method a lot. Hmmm … I’m
tempted to embellish my accomplishments so they sound a bit loftier than they
really are, thereby leading obit readers to believe that I was a much greater
person than I really am. It’s called cheating, of course, but it’s
hard to pass up my one chance to write a flowery epitaph (“… and
she was such a talented and cheerful writer …”)
Your Final Wishes
I don’t know about you, but I would like a rock band to perform at my service
to drown out any heavy-duty weeping and sobbing. (Let’s face it, there
are bound to be enough tears to fill the Amazon River.) Lastly, it is my final
wish to be forever renowned for my fresh apple pies — made with pure vanilla
grown in Mexico — as well as my savory, tangy, killer chili.
Oh yes, there is just one more thing: It is my deep desire to be buried in a
full-length Scorsese-red Armani knockoff gown, with matching lipstick and nail
polish, complete with bling earrings discounted on the Home Shopping Network.
And please don’t forget the shoes! Make them dyed-to-match satin with rhinestone-jeweled
buckles — and at least four inches high. Why? So that when they plough
through the cemetery 100 years later to replace obsolete freeways with space
stations designed for lunar travel, my body may have turned to dust, but not
my stilettos! No, those metal shanks will last for centuries. Hopefully, an anthropologist-sociologist
will conclude that this old chick was probably more than 100 years old and most
likely died laughing on an old-fashioned parquet dance floor.
And before we go any further, are you aware that many newspapers may expect you
to pay a service charge if they are asked to write up an obituary? The unvarnished
truth is that editors are very busy people and prefer you bring in the obituary
completely written out word-for-word.
Stuck recalls how often people came into her newspaper office with little bits
of papers with assorted facts about the deceased, expecting busy editors to piece
it all together into one coherent article.
And women, listen up! So often it’s the husband who’s the computer-savvy
expert in the household. And if he dies, in many cases the surviving wife doesn’t
know how to send an article electronically to the newspaper, much less a JPEG
photo of the deceased. So don’t be afraid to tackle the challenge of learning
to use the computer.
When writing your obituary, ask yourself what personal information you might
like to preserve in a time capsule. And by the way, there are many free online
services which furnish guidelines for writing an obituary. For starters, you
might want to begin by visiting www.obitNow.com and accessing their form to
Basic Content of an Obituary
List identifying information and some basic facts such as name, age, date and
cause of death, and where the deceased was living at the time of death. Also
birthplace, occupation, names of spouse, children and grandchildren, and significant
memberships in civic organizations, including military service.
Now’s your chance to boast of any special achievements, hobbies or interests
which you’re most proud of. It’s also a chance to request that donations
be made to your favorite charity in lieu of flowers.
I do not have a death wish because, frankly, at the moment I am far too busy
concentrating on a life worth living — one which is happy, healthy and
productive. And yet, I can’t take the chance of having someone else describe
me. I must do it myself, lest others forget to mention how famous I was for my
fresh apple pies — made with pure vanilla grown in Mexico — and my
savory, tangy, killer chili!!
If you have a heartwarming, touching or humorous story
of 300 words or less — written
by a senior or about a senior — which you would like to see included in
Jan Fowler’s upcoming book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors,” please
mail your submission to:
1540 Barton Road #251
Redlands, CA 92373.
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