A Life in 200 Words
This post is my response to Jenny Matlock’s Alphabet Thursday challenge for the letter “O”.
You might already have guessed that my word for today’s challenge is “obituary.
My inspiration for this post came from a segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show last October discussing how newspaper obituaries were once reserved for only the most prominent of citizens. That is still the case for most big city newspapers, but smaller newspapers do usually print obituaries for local residents. Then, back in March after Elizabeth Taylor died, CNN ran a feature about obituaries for the rich and famous (and infamous) focusing, in particular, on the fact that celebrities’ obituaries are usually pre-written, long before they die. In Taylor’s case, the principal writer died several years before she did (though updating authors were also credited).
On one hand, I’m glad I’m not prominent enough for anyone to contemplate (for even a second) pre-writing my obituary but, on the other, I’m enough of a control freak that I’m considering drafting my own “200 words” rather than leaving that task to my (hopefully) grief-stricken family and friends.
The CBS article focused on short phrases that somehow summarize a person’s life. What was he or she passionate about? What will family and friends remember forever? Which recollections and anecdotes are most memorable?
I like to think of myself as 59 years young, and I hope I have many long, healthy, and interesting years ahead of me, but I must also acknowledge that I could be gone tomorrow—a victim of an accident, illness, or tragedy. So, occasionally, usually prompted by the death of a famous or not-so-famous contemporary, I am compelled to ponder the contents of my own obituary, the 200 or so words that will somehow summarize my life on this earth. At this point it is only a mental draft, but it is high on my to-do list if only because I want to have significant input into my last 200 words.