A classmate of mine died recently. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated from high school but when I saw her picture in the obituary column, I was stunned. Her family had chosen her graduation picture to publish. It was the same picture that was in the yearbook. She was a 64-year-old woman but the picture was taken when she was 17 years old. Her hair was very 1960s and so were here clothes. The picture looked like it came from a different century. (Oh, wait, it did!) I often wonder why people do that. Was there no recent photo…one taken within the last 45 years?
This wasn’t the first one though. Two years ago, another classmate died and her family also used her graduation photograph.
You often see a 90-year-old man in the obits with his military picture from when he was 22 years old…or maybe a 90-year-old woman with a 1940-ish pompadour hairstyle that was probably her engagement photo. If you only knew them when they were older, how would you recognize them?
The other thing I notice in obituaries is that people put in all kinds of things or accomplishments that really aren’t relevant or maybe aren’t even accomplishments. Here are some examples of octogenarian obituaries:
- Joe Doe received three badges when he was in the boy scouts.
- Susie Silly was the star butterfly of her second grade play.
- Jackie Dodo was a straight A student until she reached high school when her attention was diverted to boys and booze. (Oops, I did alter that a bit.)
- Eighty-five year old Alma Gogetter was the captain of her junior varsity cheerleading squad. Yay team!
Then there are the love declarations.
- Bonnie Boop was loved by all who knew her (really???).
- She will be missed by scores of friends (how many are a score??).
Pondering on this I gave the beloved husband some specifics for my obituary.
- He is to use my second grade school photo. No one will recognize me in my cool page-boy.
- He is to include the notations made by the nuns on all of my grade school report cards. (Most were lovely except for Sister Catalda who said I talked too much.)
- He is to include the fact that I was the captain of my intramural basketball team when I was in tenth grade. It was an elected position and I let everyone do what they wanted, so they elected me! (Maybe I should run for president??)
- In the survivors section I want him to include not only my surviving pets but also those that have gone before me. It will take a lot of space considering he will need to go all the way back to my first canary, followed by dogs and cats and more canaries. After all, they were very dear to me.
That obituary should bring a smile to everyone or the ensuing party will. Next I will work on my epitaph.