But I got to thinking about my life, my work and my family. It all started when a family friend died and I was reading his obituary. It was an extremely cool one. You read it, and you just KNEW this man lived. He got up each day and went to a job he loved. He made a difference in the world. He cherished his wife and daughters. He loved his friends and church family.
Your standard obituary has all the necessary details: name, family, birth date, where you lived, where you died, who’s left, where you volunteered, where you worked ….in chronological order. Most of them do not say the way someone died.
In another 20-30 years the obituaries will start to look different. The older generation that is dying now is the last generation to have worked at one place most of their lives. They are the children who survived the Great Depression. Their lives were more insular than the even the next generation. Most of them considered volunteering ‘just what you did’.
My generation, the baby boomers, have it a little different. Most of us will have worked over 50 years of our lives and in more than ten jobs. (These numbers are based on my circle of influence only, and certainly in no way official.) We have been raised with a strong work ethic, yet we know how to have a lot of fun too. We’ve seen wars – many of them. We’ve also grown up in the generations of love, sex and rock ‘n roll. Many of our friends are dead from things like AIDS, crack, meth and suicide.
I come from a long line of Scottish ancestors who live very long lives.I plan to live to 100, and in good health. So thinking about obituaries now (at 57) might seem silly. But maybe not. I have written my obituary, and I plan to live into it. I’ve got a good 40 years ahead of me. That’s plenty of time to keep on living. It will read something like this:
Deb Brown died of old age. She outlived all of her friends, and decided one day that enough was enough and she was ready for the next adventure. A child of the 70’s, Deb spent her twenties and thirties searching for the next best party. Of course she worked the entire time as well – bartending, insurance underwriting, selling luggage, running an internet cafe, retail management. Having lived in Chicago well into her 40’s, she came back to Iowa to care for elderly parents. This is where Deb began to blossom. Deb learned the art of the internet and storytelling, and found a way to inspire others to tell their own stories. Spending her 50’s honing her craft, she lived her 60’s traveling around the world telling stories, writing about her travels and authoring 12 books. The next 30 years found her in places like Bora Bora, Russia, Iceland, Mexico, Peru and the Greek Isles teaching others how to have a good time living a good life. Deb spent a lot of time with her kids, grand kids, nieces and nephews and the ‘greats’ and encouraged them to believe that anything is possible. Many of her books are still in reprint, and her fans know she’s just a sentence away. Her husbands are all deceased and she would want you to know she loved them all. Surviving relatives will host a party in her honor instead of a funeral. Plan to attend and have a good time! As Deb would say, “rock on!”
What would your obituary say?