Home Lots More Columns Get Column E-mailed 222 Best Senior Links Week's Best Jokes Pans and Praise
Today's Column Senior Travel Other Good Stuff Epic Senior Trivia Bee's Knees Nostalgia Forum

WAS THAT YOU
IN TODAY'S OBITS?
By Frank Kaiser

I‘ve been reading the obituaries lately. Once you hit 70, it's required.

What strikes me is how they make the recently deceased so vanilla, so plain and soulless.

Obituary writers must see this as a dull, dull world.

Everyone dies. They leave loving husbands and wives and children and grandchildren. They lived here and there, maybe had a job and belonged to a church. The end.

That's it!

No "'He once saved the life of a friend." Never "She was expert at whistling 'Dixie.'" Not even a "Never peed in the shower." Or "Known for her delicious thick-crust apple pie, especially the one with which, in 1952, she tried to poison her husband."

When I die, I want my obituary to reflect me and my life, the way I lived it.

It's not that difficult. Even a little zinger can say volumes. Like, "In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republican Neocons." Or, "His remote was buried with him."

I love this one: "…he ultimately stuck his head in a heated gas oven with a golden delicious apple propped in his mouth. Miraculously, the apple was saved for the evening dessert."

Of course, I want to be dead first.

What's the old saw about reading the obituaries first, and if your name isn't there, you might as well go to work?

Turns out, reading your own obit is no more unusual these days than it was in 1897 when the New York Journal erroneously published Mark Twain's premature obituary, to which Twain famously responded: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Gerald Ford, even Pope John Paul II were all outted as dead in 2003 by a technical glitch at CNN.

And when Pope Benedict XV was ill, a special edition of a New York newspaper screamed "POPE BENEDICT XV IS DEAD" across the front page. When the report was denied, an equally large headline read: "POPE HAS REMARKABLE RECOVERY!"

Should that we all be so fortunate.

Not that obituary writers don't try. They even have an association that meets annually for "fun, inspiration, and enlightenment," this year at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.

As president and founder, Carolyn Milford Gilbert (just as you'd expect an obit to read), said recently, "We have become that 'needle in a haystack' for obituarists who toil unnoticed in countries around the globe."

But why trust, what is it, an unnoticed obituarist? Or, more likely, a funeral director you never even met?

Write your own obituary! Far more important than your epitaph — let's face it, few will ever visit your grave — your obit is either your final whimper or your last hurrah. Write it the way you want to be remembered, not necessarily for churches you attended, but for your attendant graces and oddities, even the lessons of your life.

If you're like me, you've been the bad example that others used to keep themselves on the straight and narrow. Publish that scold so all the world can wince and recoil.

For me, if I don’t first choke to death on my own words, I believe I'd like it to start out:

“Shot to death yesterday by a jealous husband, 101-year-old Frank Kaiser…“

Copyright © 2006 — Frank Kaiser

For others in this series, "The Real Truth About Getting Old," go to http://www.suddenlysenior.com/healthissues.html

HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN OBIT

Here's what Don Fry, an affiliate of the Poynter Institute, advises:

The secret of fascinating obits is pushing the résumé into the background.

Here's how: First, you type the data into a box, and then write the body text from the "anecdotes and recollections." You poke some of the boxed facts into the text as necessary; you can't retell an anecdote about military life without framing it with the military service record. The most advanced obituaries nowadays print the box, the body text and a picture, preferably of the person in action, not an airbrushed college headshot when the subject dies at 83.

How to Do It...

Here's how to write your own state-of-the-art obituary, assuming, of course, that someone else will finish it.

1.) BOX List this data in a text box: Your name, age, occupation and address Your date and place of birth Your memberships and military service Fraternal, religious and civic organizations you belonged to Your family, both deceased and surviving Any funeral and burial arrangements already made

2.) SOURCE MATERIAL List these items elsewhere: Your activities and achievements Your favorite anecdotes and recollections about you

3.) CORE Write a few rich paragraphs in the third person, answering this question: "What do I want people to remember about me?"

4.) LEAD Write a short lead announcing your death and telling the reader what you and this obituary are about.

5.) SECONDARY Select your "source material" rigorously, and write a few paragraphs from whatever survives. Arrange these paragraphs around your core.

6.) RESUME Copy selected items, such as survivors, from the box to the text.

7.) ENDING By now, an ending will occur to you, so type it.

8.) POLISH Cut the text by 20 percent, repair the transitions, read aloud and revise. Write "DRAFT" and the date at the top, and give appropriate people a copy.

Copyright © 1995-2006 The Poynter Institute. Reprinted by permission.


GET SUDDENLY SENIOR EVERY FRIDAY. SIMPLY SEND A BLANK E-MAIL TO GET-SS@SUDDENLYSENIOR.COM

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE HELPFUL LINKS BELOW


IRISH OBITUARY

Mrs. Pete Monaghan entered the newsroom to pay for her husband’s obit. Told that it would cost a dollar a word, she complained that she had only two bucks.

She then wrote, “Pete died.”

The newsman taking the obit thought old Pete deserved more and said, “I’ll give you three more words.”

The widow thanked him and rewrote the obit: “Pete died. Boat for sale.”


HOT DOG DAYS OF AUGUST‘S
TRIVIA FROM SUDDENLY SENIOR

Hey Jude, Take A Walk In Strawberry Fields. Just how good is your failing memory about the Fav Four.

Stars In Your Eyes Trivia Quiz

Yet another chance to prove that you’re “Older than Dirt.” Remember Liz Taylor’s love life, Brando’s “Stellaaaa,” old Blue Eye’s marriages?

Welcome Back to the '50s or Yet Another "Older Than Dirt" Trivia Quiz

OK, OLD TIMER. You think you remember it all, the Korean War, McCarthy, Elizabeth's coronation, Khrushchev's shoe, Elvis, fins, Sputnik, hula hoops and Barbie dolls. Let's see how good you really are!

Take a stroll down radio's memory lane. This "Older Than Dirt" Suddenly Senior Trivia Quiz will show you how much you remember!

Forgetting things, lately? Here's your chance for redemption. Twenty questions that will prove once and for all whether you're older than dirt.

What do Sparkle Plenty, Lou Costello, Fibber McGee, Trigger, Doris Day, Black Jack Chewing Gum, 10¢ War Bond Saving Stamps, and Pinocchio have in common? They're all part of this week's Suddenly Senior Trivia Quiz. See how YOU do.

How's your memory today? We won't even ask you to recall long-gone radio personalities. (Maybe next time!) Just a few famous TV cops from the '50s to last season's NYPD Blue. Just the facts, Ma'am.




THIS

WEEK'S

BEST

SENIOR

CARTOON




THIS WEEK'S BEST 222 SENIOR SITES

http://www.suddenlysenior.com/links.shtml
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE BEST OF SENIOR SEX
http://www.suddenlysenior.com/sexpage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR NOSTALGIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/nostalgiapage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR TRIVIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/triviapage.html


HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYONE!

Frank Kaiser frank@suddenlysenior.com

http://www.suddenlysenior.com/

The nationally syndicated column read by more 2.3 million Americans over 50 who've become senior way before their time.

TOP OF PAGE

PicoSearch
FIND IT AT
SUDDENLY SENIOR!




SINCE 1999, AMERICA'S MOST TRUSTED SENIOR CITIZEN WEBSITE


Seniors Having Fun
• To be a Kid Today in Florida

How Suddenly Senior began
• E-MAIL FRANK


Now read by 3.1 million in 83 newspapers from Florida’s St. Petersburg Times to the Mumbai, India News. CLICK FOR MORE INFO


ADVERTISE WITH
SUDDENLY SENIOR