The average obituary is pretty standard and generally not very inspiring. People get a lot of credit for their progeny, dying while surrounded by family, and being a keen gardener. Alas, what can you say for those poor souls isolated and dying in hospital COVID wards?

A close friend’s mother recently passed, and she sent me a copy of the obituary that she wrote about her mom. It was lovely, as was her mother—but the real reason it was well written is that my friend is a writer with talent, something lacking in the average paid obituary writers. It seems that if you lack some sort of notoriety, good or bad, most likely you are destined to the standard obit.

I read her mother’s obituary and thanked her for sharing it. Shamelessly. I followed that up by requesting she write mine. (People in their eighties tend to think about such things.) Her response came soon after. “Thank you and not a chance! Way too many things to say about the life you lead and the influence you had on all around you.” Oh well, I sighed, and went on to think about happier things then constructing my obituary. 

Two days later, I got an email from my friend. In it, she said I should instruct my children to include the following line in whatever they write:

(She) is survived by an entire world of people whose lives she enriched through her endless fight for equality, thirst for discovery, and unwavering friendship.

I like it. I think I’ll print it off and attach it to my will so the family will be sure to find it. I’m not planning to die anytime soon but, when I do, I hope to be remembered like this.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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