What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

No I'm not asking you about pizza! It's a little more serious than a pizza slogan!

A group of us were talking about life and the subject of obituaries came up. Pat had asked her father to write an obit with information he would want people to know. He did so, but she didn't see it until after he had passed away. It turned out to be very vague and incomplete. She had to ask family members for dates and details that she couldn't remember. Another friend, Shirley, said that a great-aunt had written her own obituary, and it was meticulous, with a lot of information that Shirley had never known.

Well, one thing led to another and pretty soon we were talking about what we would want in our own obituaries. We talked about vague obits we had seen that didn't list a birth date or any other genealogical information, as well as lengthy obits that talked about a person's love of dogs, cats, or some obscure hobby. So what kind of obituary would we like to have?

Many years ago, my husband and I spent a day wandering around southern Arizona with friends and we spent some time in Tombstone, visiting the OK Corral, the gallows, and at Boot Hill reading tombstones and laughing about the silly things we saw on them. In particular this one stood out.

        Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44, No Les, No More

Boot Hill, Tombstone, AZ

Boot Hill, Tombstone, AZ

Poor Lester! He died from gunfire and they made a joke out of him. Was he a joke in real life? Did he have any friends or family nearby when he died, or was he just a long way from home in a dusty desert town?

So what did I want on my tombstone? Not the obit, but what did I want in the few words that would fit on a tombstone, the word or two that would describe my life, the kind of person I was, what I valued, how I wanted to be remembered? That would take some thought.

So I thought about it off and on for several days, trying out various words and short phrases. Mother, wife, kind, generous, reader, writer, friend? Treasured her family? Loved the outdoors? Life is better at the lake? Lived until she died? Hard-headed? Opinionated? None of them seemed to cover it all.

And I guess that is the point. None of us can boil our life down to a few words that will fit on a granite monument or be written in our obituary. We are so many contradictory things, good, bad and indifferent, that a few words doesn't begin to describe us. One day we are generous and kind, the next day we're grouchy and mean-spirited. We're not the same at 60 as we are at 20. Or are we? Can we even dispassionately review ourselves and know how we appear to others, our friends and family?

This is a little too serious for me most days, and I hope I am not soon going to have a tombstone. But if I consider what I would LIKE to have on my tombstone and how I have to live to have someone place it there, maybe there's a better chance that I WILL live that way and be a blessing to those around me.

Or maybe they'll just say "She Really Loved Popcorn".

What DO you want on your Tombstone? Let me know if you have this figured out.

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