Walking among the headstones and monuments I like to envision what life was like for those people that have a epitaph written on their headstones. Some are simple: father/mother/beloved brother etc. But the ones that I really like to ponder are those that give a bit more information, (after all, isn’t that the true meaning of an epitaph?).
"She always said ‘I Love You’ even when she didn’t mean it" – that’s priceless;
"He drank until his liver was liquid" – interesting;
"Born and died before her eyes saw the sky" – Oh my Lord that one gets me!
Some epitaphs are repeated over and over; "I told you I was sick" and "Gone Fishing/Golfing/Shopping …" nice, yes. But I want to know more. What was this person really like? Some of my favorites that allow a gal to really embellish the event:
"Here lies Emily White, she signaled left and then went right" ah hah! Dear Emily died in her car. I bet she was wearing a sweet little hat with a mesh front, white gloves and a floral print as she was on her way to bridge club. Emily was so preoccupied with the thought that her jello mold had not had sufficient time to set and was therefore not paying attention as she was turning onto Buttercup Lane to join Ethel, Margaret and Aileen …
"Jonathan Grober died dead sober. Lord thy wonders never cease" clearly had drinking issues but bless his pickled heart, he had conquered the bottle only to fall down a flight of seemingly innocent steps – there were after all only three – to meet his demise while thinking what was the purpose of giving up the drink if this is how my life ends …
"Here lies my poor wife. She is gone and I am contented" (18th century stone – name unknown) – Ah, she was stern and never very amorous and he always felt a that his neighbors were having much more fun tha she ever allowed. Yes, she darned his socks and washed his clothes but bu gum, she really never did meet my (other) needs. Alas, I meet my own and I am contented.
"Here lies the bones of Elizabeth Charlotte. Born a virgin, died a harlot. She was aye a virgin at seventeen. A remarkable thing in Aberdeen" Charlotte always was purty and that never gets a girl nowhere. She tried to hold out until that louse James rode into town making her swoon and lose her way.
"Here lies Lester More. Shot to death by a .44. No Less, no More" Clearly had an exciting life riding his trusty steed into various small towns only to find himself in yet anotehr challenge of quick draw over an unpaid bartab … or perhaps he was the one that caused Charlotte to stray?
"Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising" – I LOVE that one! He had a sense of humor ol’ Johnny Yeast and rose to every occasion. Nary a soul left his company that they didn’t feel but ten feet taller and just that much wiser having been in his company.
See what I mean? The scenarios just bloom when one is provided a simple start. Obviously every epitaph is unique to the person for whom it speaks, some are very personal, some may harbor an inside joke or story that only the friends and loved ones will understand. Earlier epitaphs usually begin ‘here lies’ which evolved into ‘In memory of’, some just delve right into the heart of the matter (remember Jonathan Grober?).
So this gets me thinking: What do I want my epitaph to be? What, in a few short lines (although some can be very long) will be said to sum up my life? Now you are expecting me to answer that aren’t you? I have no idea. none, nada, zip, zilch. I like to think of being remembered for dancing and singing even though I have virtually no talent in either area. of my home always smelling of baked goodies whether cookies, breads, pies or pot roast. Of my love for family and friends, of reading and writing and always trying to learn the how’s and why’s and what’s of life. Perhaps I just want someone to know that I lived, and in that life accomplished something worth remembering. What will it be? That great and wonderous accomplishment? Like most people I wil likely never write a great American novel, win the Nobel Peace Prize, or travel the globe in a lounge chair. I will however continue to pursue those things that bring joy to myself and others, and perhaps that’s all there needs to be. I can live with that~
What is your epitaph?