An Uplifting Read

dead end signThis might seem morbid, but I enjoy reading obituaries. Here in Texas, some of them are quite lively. A couple of years ago a woman in her late 90s died, and it said she owed her long life to a glass of Shiner Bock every day.

If you share my affection for obituaries, you will probably enjoy this article on the art of the obit. I prefer a newsy lead -- who, what, where, when, why and how. I want to know cause of death, and I don't want it buried in the belly of the story. Mysterious hints suggesting I should donate to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation in lieu of flowers just leave me hungry for details.

I love long colorful stories describing the deceased one's life. For the most part, these are ordinary unfamous people I am reading about, yet I am touched by what they managed to accomplish personally and professionally after often hardscrabble beginnings. You don't want to think all you'll ever amount to is what they choose to write in your obituary, but it is something, isn't it?

My favorites are the expressions obit writers use to avoid stating the obvious. There's a heavy religious influence, and I am inclined to think churches have someone on hand to knock these things out.

  • Crossed from time to eternity
  • Departed his Earthly body to be with his Heavenly Father
  • Went to his eternal reward
  • Graciously, proudly and peacefully accepted the Lord's hand to join Him into the kingdom of Heaven
  • Left this world for her heavenly home where she triumphantly joined Her Maker

If you want a hilarious treat, check out Johnny exit signCarson's Eulogy for a Thesaurus Editor. I laughed until I cried.

Actually, I don't find obits morbid at all. Reading about death is reading about life. We are in the middle now. Most of us will live many more years if we are lucky, and I find these reads to be a poignant reminder to slow down, appreciate people for their unique gifts and enjoy our time together on the planet. Let's give them something to write about!

In closing, I wanted to share the opening sentence of an obituary I read this morning. I changed the name only.

Mary Renee Miller, who looked younger than her 74 years, died Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at her home surrounded by her loving family.

There was a beautiful picture of Mary next to all the other old and wrinkly people who had died. She looked fabulous.


Donna Pekar authors a blog called Rock the Silver, about aging with panache. It's about being fearlessly gray and relentlessly cool.

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