How do we want to be remembered?

Do you read obituaries?

I didn’t until I got older, older like 40 or so. I mean I used to read the appreciations for famous folks like George Burns or John Wayne or the little write-ups for people that I knew, but now I really give the obits a good look each morning.

Here in the Washington area you read about a lot of folks who worked for the federal government. And they always have that little title like, HARRY JOHNSON, DEFENSE ANALYST, or WYLE E. COYOTE, BIRD ENTHUSIAST. A tagline trying to classify you so the readers will know how to mentally file you. Like my friend Steph Savage makes clear on his (very amusing) page here, what you do is what you are, and presumably, how you will be remembered.

I see so many grandmotherly little faces labeled DESDEMONA DRESSER and under that, CHURCH MEMBER. Not so many HOMEMAKERS anymore, although I used to see a lot of them. One lady named RYAN died once and I muttered to my wife that the lady who founded RYAN HOMES had died… before my brain kicked in as to what they meant by “HOMEMAKER”. But, really, CHURCH MEMBER? Is that all they could come up with? I mean no offense to those who really believe that belonging to a church was the single most important achievement in their lives and that is truly how they wish to be remembered. But somehow I feel that all these tags are put on by survivors who were just looking for a label for their departed’s obit.

“What did Uncle Harry do? Well, he sat around mostly, drinking beer and watching sports on television. No? Well, let me think.. he went to church most Sundays. Ok, then.”

Do I want to be forever in the annals of history as Ed Albetski, MAP MAKER? Or ECONOMIST? Or GOVERNMENT DWEEB? BUREAUCRAT? Hmm. Why do I have to be forever branded with an occupation? Why not Ed Albetski, FREE THINKER… or Ed Albetski, SECOND GRADE SPELLING CONTEST WINNER? That might raise eyebrows, especially when printed with my age.

Seriously though, we should all give this a bit of thought. We should get to choose our own obit tagline. And why not ABELARD TERWILLIGER, SECRET AGENT? Who says these things have to be entirely truthful? Ever read a politician’s obit? Spare me!

I’ve decided I want mine to be Ed Albetski, NOTED BARFLY. By the time I kick off I may even be a CELEBRATED BARFLY. That’s something to live for.

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I’ve always had a fascination for obits as well. Was a little weird when I helped write my grandfather’s a few years ago.

I like it “celebrated barfly.” How about “Dignified Dilettante.”

Ed Albetski

I like “Dignified Dilettante”. Folks will see that and want to read on to learn what this fellow was like. They will feel it was a loss not to have known him. 🙂

Edwin J. Albetski Jr.

I think a fitting obit title for you would be:

ED ALBETSKI, Computer Expert, Amateur Writer and Historian, Independent Film Actor, Domestic Gourmet, Bibliophile, Travel Enthusiast, Devoted Father and Husband.