My son came to visit and said, “I have an idea for your eulogy.”
That was a bit off-putting, but I tried to stay calm. “What do you mean?” I said. “I’m not dying yet.”
“Of course you’re not,” he said. “I just want to be prepared. And I think I have a really good idea: Ten Things You Don’t Know About My Mother. We can work on it together.”
Actually, I know a couple of people who have written their own eulogies and they swear it’s a great way to help you to think about your life. And I had to admit, my son’s title was rather provocative. I immediately thought of two things people don’t know about me and I have no interest in informing anyone on the subject. I said not one word to my son.
But what is there about my life that I would want people to know? The people at my funeral, presumably friends and relatives, what don’t they know? That I have a hard copy of every article I’ve written for newspapers or magazines in two four-drawer file cabinets in my garage? We’re talking somewhere between 500 and 600 and nobody is going to want them. That although I have been a writer and teacher all my life I also have a degree in hotel management, from which I learned that I never want to manage a hotel? That I played girls’ basketball for one semester in college and I liked it and was pretty good at it. This would be remarkable to those at my funeral because, presumably, they would all know that my height is five feet, one inch. It turns out there’s a method for making baskets even if you are short and I learned how to do it. As long as you are not playing against super tall players who can jump up and just drop the ball in the basket, you’re good to go.
Or how about this: If I could have done anything in the world for a career I would have wanted to be a singer. Anyone who has heard me sing knows it all worked out for the best.
I’ve got a long way to go to complete the list. I wonder what my son is coming up with. But I recommend the exercise to anyone who wants the opportunity to look at themselves in a new light. And I’m sorry I won’t be able to hear the eulogy delivered.
Norma Libman is a journalist and lecturer who has been collecting women’s stories for more than twenty years. You can read the first chapter of her award-winning book, Lonely River Village, at NormaLibman.com.