My mom – a Yankee transplant living in Tennessee at the time of her passing – liked to tell me that people in the South write their own obituaries. I’m not sure if this is true, and if I’m being honest, I was kind of uncomfortable with the idea at first. I love hush puppies and sweet tea, but writing your own obituary? That was one Southern tradition I couldn’t get behind. But as she and I talked more about it (she talked, I protested), I began to understand why she wanted to do this – it was about getting the Ultimate Final Word – na-na na-na boo-boo-style.
We never did draft anything official together, but the process was interesting and I’m glad we did it. She got to joke about who should be left out for bad behavior and where the punchlines should fall – and I got to see what her life had meant to her before she was gone. It was a gift.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why giving life the bird’s-eye treatment is actually something we should do long before staring down a tunnel of bright white light. Why wait until the end to take an accounting – find what needs fixing and celebrate the small victories now when you can, right? I like the idea of writing a legacy letter – a sort of obituary for each passing year – to keep the focus on achieving whatever it is that you want to be remembered for. (I, for one, hope you don’t remember me for ending sentences with prepositions.) I’m curious – do you already do anything like this?
And for giggles, here’s an hilarious article about people who lived to read their own obituaries (by accident)!
*Photo Source: Riaad Algarei*