I was in the sauna yesterday and came across a crinkled piece of newspaper which was destined for the fire. I had a look and discovered that it was open to the obituary page, so I read it. I happen to be interested in obituaries. I like to see how people get presented after the bottom line is drawn under their efforts. After it’s over it’s now a story, because it’s finished, and now it can be told. It has a shape now. Now the “official version” gets propagated. Sometimes the deceased has written up his own obit in advance. Other times it’s a close relative. This one, I think, was written by the “dear friend” with whom the deceased lived. I won’t divulge the name on this one, out of some sense of decency, but here is a snippet:
“John would never have been accused of being an easy person. His personality was complex and often unpredictable; his children now find in themselves some of the qualities they once viewed as difficult and, at times, exasperating. Fierce loyalty to family, a sense of privacy, pride, a love of the finer things and eccentricity were among these traits. A tendency to say or do too much was to be expected.”
Poor guy! He’s not even cold in his grave and already he’s being damned with faint praise and left-handed compliments. “He was a bastard, but he was our bastard!”
So I’m thinking, maybe I’d better plan on writing my own obit right now, because there is no way I want anybody putting out that “honesty” stuff when I’m gone. I want nice things, said in bland ways. I think I’ll get busy on this right away.