Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Three pages? Really?

From my mother, contemplating her future:

Here is a draft of my obituary. When the time comes you can rewrite it in any way you want, but just don't say that I spent 10 years in jail! Tell me what you think of it. Mom

Ummm. OK. Wonder what prompted this?

So I open the attached document to find a lengthy obituary. Wait. This is really long.

Three pages? Who gets a three-page single-spaced obit?

I settle in to read. She starts off in a regular tone, where she was born, where she lived, who was related to her. Then on to education. (You're listing your elementary? Hmm.) And slowly we start sliding into the beginnings of manic phase:

...where she majored in classical Greek, (graduating as Durant Scholar), and she received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1969 (the literature of the Classics and the Renaissance) from Harvard University. She was awarded her J.D. from Boston University in 1976. Her Harvard dissertation was published in book form by Garland Press Rutgers University in 1979: “Theatrum Mundi, the history of an idea. Which I've actually read. But it's not a notable best-seller. She also published two scholarly articles on Erasmus in 1971. Only two? She taught Church History (the Reformation) briefly at Andover Newton Theology School and at Boston University School of Theology. Very briefly, as in for one year. Uh oh. This doesn't mean we are going to go year by year, does it?
We now continue on through her legal career, various appointments to various legal committees, on through her retirement, and into her doll collecting career, and various hobby-related committee appointments, and here we are still going strong on page two. Now the fun begins.

Here we see the twelve organizations she volunteered for, along with pertinent dates. We continue in this vein for the rest of page two.

And the mania hits.

Right there in the fifth paragraph.

She had a life-long passion for equal rights for all people, and to that end, generously supported the work of Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty, International., OXFAM, and the ACLU, where she served ... a three-year term as vice-president of the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union. She also supported the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Wait. Did she just list her charitable contributions in her obit? Why are you hiding the ACLU presidency in THAT paragraph?

It gets better. Now we move on to her season tickets.

She always gave generously to the arts. She served for several years as an Overseer for the Handel and Hayden Society of Boston, and she also supported the Huntington Theatre, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Baroque, and Boston Ballet, all of whose programs she subscribed to each year. She also supported the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Science in Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
"Support"? "Subscribe"? You're talking about museum memberships. In your obit. Uh huh.

During the 1990's she ... wrote many poems.


We're not close to being done with page three. On we go through her travel experiences and knowledge of secondary languages, to close with:

Above all, she valued the many friendships she made through her involvement with professional, community, and hobby societies, as well as clubs, commissions, and professional and philanthropic organizations She always enjoyed reaching out to help others, and, in return, her friends reached out to her.
OK, then. Good to know.


Bev(BB) said...

Those friends? Why not give them all a copy and let them edit it instead of you.

Just a thought.


Lyvvie said...

I'm starting to think my Mom's "Don't bother flying over when We (This was before my Dad passed) die. We've donated our bodies to the medical university and they'll just cremate us when their done. No wake, funeral, burial or anything. It's not a big deal." *sigh*

I toast you when I down a shot later.

Beth said...

God your mom makes me laugh.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but -- did she spend any of the pages on her children and grandchildren?

Suisan said...

This letter/obituary may be the single oddest thing I have read. On the other hand, I was whooping with laughter by the end of page one, and think I hurt myself somewhere on page three.

Bev -- I'm not planning on editing it. Did I mention that she also sent me her house key? When she dies she wants me to immediately fly across the country to let her dogs out. She can't bear to think of them cooped up in the house. A) I don't expect her to die for at least another twelve to fifteen years which gives me ample time to lose the house key, and b)I'm in California, she's in Boston. Surely there's one person who's closer who can let the dogs out?

Lyvvie -- Bottoms up!!

Beth -- Well, she put the names of the grandchildren in the list of relatives at the start. Unfortunately, they are too young to have season tickets to the opera, so what could one say about them really?

Kate R said...

Um. Okay.

Tell me, why are there so many odd mothers? Are we doomed to turn into them? How do we stop? Suisan, yours wins, btw.

CindyS said...

I'm speechless.

The good news is my obit can now be more than 2 lines if I can put in my subscriptions to House and Home and Style at Home!

Write out the lyrics to Seasons in the Sun and send it back as the edit. Come on. That would be funny.

Or twisted. Probably twisted because I thought of it.

And Kate R is right. You win. Except you have an entire continent of space from your mom. I should get some points for being 5 minutes from mine. Of course, she doesn't believe in the drop in so she would never show up unexpectedly. So take a few points off. Darn. I'm back where I started.


Doug said...

At least your mom has accomplishments to list in her obit. My mom would struggle at a third of a page, and much of that would be, "She regularly screamed at her neighbors, who in turn screamed back at her, and showed great restraint in not calling the cops."