March 10, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
I have this strange obsession with reading the Obits in the paper. These days I can read them online but I always, ALWAYS check out the obits first. Before the Opinion section, before the actual news. I don’t know why.
I read them and I see their life accomplishments. I see the legacy they left behind. I read the long list (or short list) of survivors. Often there is an address to donate in lieu of flowers. I like that idea, mostly because dead people don’t need flowers and their loved ones don’t need to deal with fifty baskets of dying flowers on their dining room table, either.
The best obits I’ve ever read are from Salt Lake City, Utah. The first time I visited my husband’s sister out there I sat and read them as I sipped my tea in the morning and nearly choked. You HAVE to check these out! These people know how to do it right, I’m telling you. It’s good stuff, almost like reading mini novels. It’s a pretty nice tribute to dead people.
It might be a sick fascination but I’ve done it since I was a kid. My Dad and I would race home to see who would get to the cryptogram and crossword puzzle first. Sometimes he would let me win. Most times we’d sit and do it together (I also learned from his mother, my Beloved Nana). We also read the obits, as he explained what some of it meant (nee means “used to be known as” or “born”). I was also a bit obsessed with death at this age, having attended several funerals for great aunts and uncles and finally my grandfathers, a few months apart in the same year when I was ten. It didn’t scare me but I was quite curious about the whole process. It also didn’t make any sense to me that people have these bizarre rituals when people die. Looking at dead bodies at a viewing? Putting them in fancy boxes and people leave stuff in the coffin? I just don’t get it. As my husband says, “Funerals are for the LIVING not the dead”. When people say, “He would have wanted it this way!” I always think, “I’m pretty sure he TOTALLY DOES NOT CARE !” Not that I’m being irreverent. I’m just pretty sure he doesn’t care. Dude, he’s dead.
The husband and I have our wishes clearly defined. He wants no funeral but a brief memorial is ok. He wants to be cremated and then he said he doesn’t care what I do. I asked him if I could scatter them someplace (n.b: ashes DO NOT SCATTER. TRUST ME. They…clump.) like at our family cabin, where he spent the happiest years of his life so far. He’s all, “Whatevs.” Me? I think I’ll donate a few organs, I’m fairly certain that I won’t need them when I’m dead. Then my family can decide if they want a burial, cremation, etc, etc. I don’t really care at that point, I think.
Anyways, not to start your day off on a morbid note. I just think about this stuff quite a bit. And when you have a kid like mine, all of this needs to be planned out. WELL PLANNED. Like, special needs trust and all that.
And now you’re all, “Ooooookaaaaaay DG. “