Monday, April 09, 2012

The Write Obituary

Obituaries kill me.  Is it my imagination or have they changed over the years?  I was always under the impression it was more of a fill in the blank type of thing.  Wife of/ Daughter of/ Mother of/ Predeceased by, etc. 

Each Saturday morning, I open the Toronto paper actually looking forward to reading the obits.  The stories are meaty as a juicy half hour biography segment on TV.  I love those biography shows.

In one story...oops...biography...sorry...obituary, the deceased wrote his own obit.  Before he died, of course.  He sounded confused.  I am serious when I say that.  He wrote something like... well, I guess it’s over, or something to that effect.  I felt sad reading it.  His obituary was short and to the point.  Although, it changed subtly towards the end.  It wasn’t written in first person at the end.  Like, maybe he died while he was writing it and someone else finished up.  I swear that crossed my mind after reading it.

I mean no disrespect to the deceased.  One day I’ll be in the obits column, right?  Well, not in the Toronto paper. The announcement will probably be in one of those online publications.  The Lambton Shield will carry it.  They post nice pictures too. 

That’s another thing.  Should it be a current picture?  I’ve seen pictures of gorgeous gals with long hair, a saucy smile, and a hat tipped to a rakish angle.  Reading the obit, it is a surprise to learn the woman was in her late eighties when she passed.  I do appreciate seeing what they looked like in their prime.  Maybe there should be two pictures.  Like a before and after, if you will.  Where was I?  Oh, yes.

I love the obituaries that relate a lifetime of memories with kids, grandchildren, cousins, Uncle Fred from Borneo...  The canoe trip up the river with Sally, that night at the Super 6 with Gloria...sorry, again. 

Don’t forget the education and all those degrees.  University, college, on-line classes, correspondence courses, first aid refreshers.  In some cases, that’s a couple of paragraphs in itself. 

Every workplace and every change of address from 1942 to present is included.  I mean, really?  Be honest now.  Tell me what you think.  Is it necessary?  Seriously, one obituary posting fondly remembered Bethany, or whoever, decorating the church bulletin board.  I AM NOT making this up.

I began to wonder, as any writer would, about my obituary.  Being the control freak I am, maybe I should write my own.  I can only imagine what it would look like if I didn’t.

Phyllis Humby finally passed away this morning at the age of 98.  Last week, on the way to the pantry under the stairs to get a bottle of ketchup, she got her feet tangled up in a pile of sheets on the laundry room floor,.  The family decided to do without ketchup and continued with their meal unaware that Nana Humby was in distress. 

Phyllis was quite a talker.  She talked all the time and mostly no one listened.  Then she began to write.  It was much quieter.  She loved her great-grandchildren with a passion and liked nothing more than to read to them each time they visited.  Unfortunately, it was always the same old Trixie Beldon or The Bobbsey Twins book.  Some years ago,the visits ended.

Her neighbours will never forget how Phyllis wheeled her garbage out to the road every Monday night and how with pail and shovel in hand, she cleaned up the yard after her beloved pets.

Phyllis Humby, wildly enthusiastic about life, accepting of death.  Rest In Peace.


  1. Writer Dave here,
    I am so glad you're going to live to 98!
    I think I'll write mine, living to 108!
    Carry On Enjoying Everyday!

    1. I have to live to 98, Dave. I just have too much to do!