I like to read obituaries.
I know what you’re thinking, very weird, but I find them interesting.
Some of them, every once in awhile, are truly amazing, but I am entertained by the more common ones and the frightening idea that people thought these were a fitting tribute.
I am mostly fascinated by two things.
The photos and the appalling lack of grammar, spelling, or even semblance of rational thought in the “guest” book entries.
As an aside, why do they call it a Guest Book?
There is nothing here that would attract one to want to be a guest.
To borrow a line from the movie “Muppets Treasure Island”,
“We’re in the room with a Dead Guy….arrrrrrghhhh”
Perhaps they should call it a Memory Book or a “Sorry I Didn’t take the Time in Life Book”, or a “Let me display my frightening lack of Grammar Book”.
There is a fascinating consistency in the types of pictures.
They come in only a few varieties.
The picture shows a 19 year-old that died at 95 years old.
This generally gets me to look since they appear to be a very young person (the thresh-hold of which ages as I do. Soon I will be reaching the “oh my he was only 60” plateau).
The picture shows someone that looks 95 years old, died at 45. (is that the ONLY photo you could find?). I know that in some cases it may be the only choice, but it seems to me almost intentional.
It made me wonder, in the weird way my mind works, which photo will they choose for me when I die?
I fear my daughter has my sense of humor and, holding a JD and a penchant for persuasion, she will easily convince my wife to have this final joke on me. Then again, they don’t really have much to work with as far as I am concerned, photogenic I am not.
And I would enjoy it!
Most, but not all, of the pictures seem to be taken during happy moments.
The others look like arrest photos. Some look post-mortem.
Did you ever wonder if the one absolutely great photo of you fishing, swimming, sunning, running, driving, eating, laughing, dancing, hugging, holding your newborn child, just smiling OR the one that makes you look drunk, idiotic, stoned, lost, or just clueless, will be the one people look at when they read the obit?
Of course, I suppose it won’t matter, you’ll be dead.
Go online to any newspaper or funeral home in the country and look at the obits.
Frightening, yet entertaining.
Here are my favorites.
The strikingly beautiful woman, originally a black and white photo, who died
Baby, if you make it to 105 put the photo of your last moments on there.
It’s LIFE (just prior to death), and it is something to be proud of.
The stereotypical photo of the baseball hat backwards, or sideways, or still bearing the price tag wearing (sort of a 21st Century, albeit shoplifted, homage to Minnie Pearl) young man, trying to look his toughest. Ironic when one is DEAD, even more so if a link to the news story of the shooting is included.
Although not strictly an obituary photo, the following is more and more frequently included in the Funeral Home Guest Book.
The collection of empty Heineken (the Dutch must be so proud) bottles, E-Z Wider packets, and Teddy Bears (I especially like these at Gang Member Memorials perhaps they were Bad Ass Teddy Bear Aficionados?), candles with the “Artist’s conception” image of a bearded white guy that couldn’t possibly have been born, or lived, in the first Century Middle East.
There is usually yellow crime scene tape in the background.
And then there are the messages.
For the most part heartfelt I am sure, but why don’t they read what is written before sending it out into the wild of the on-line world.
Otherwise, they give the world the impression that all of their dearly departed friend’s associates were frighteningly illiterate.
Here are some examples, the names have been changed so as to avoid identifying the school system that failed to educate them and causing more embarrassment.
I did not make these up. The names were changed BUT I got the names from other obituary guest books.
“yo, Jmy and famlee. y dos the man upstaris onl take the gud ones. may he rip. hes looken don saying i m hom dont kry”
“hes in a beddr place, hes the best frind I evr had. take car bro see you ther somday”
I could go on, but quite frankly even the spell check on my iPad is crying at this point. These aren’t the worst examples. A cryptographer couldn’t figure those out.
Perhaps I am a dinosaur in my expectation for correct spelling, grammar.
Perhaps I have too unrealistic an expectation for the photos.
I truly want to understand the life I am reading about. I want to know the person.
Unfortunately, sometimes its just downright hysterical (in a funny, not crying sad way).
Perhaps I am wrong to hold these expectations.
But I do know, that if my friends pre-decease me (hoping for such an outcome brings such internal conflict and the pre-decease term I get from having funded by daughters JD) the tribute I pay will be heartfelt, articulate, and sincere.
And man do I have some GREAT pictures of them!