Well–we’re coasting down toward Hallowe’en. While those still living with small people are pushed toward sweet, empty calories, we empty-nesters locked in a mortal stare-down with diabetes tend toward the maudlin. Here’s my pal, Dr. Barry Pascal, with his take on the best way to be remembered, in stone. It was originally published in the North Valley Community Connection in June.(This is the first installment of his self-described “Death Trilogy;” the second and third will be posted October 29 and November 5.) Enjoy. You can find his humorous works for sale here.–EGF
Headstone – The Final Words
By BARRY PASCAL, Pharm.D.
Humorist, Satirist, and All-Around Nice Guy
Our family has been working diligently for weeks on the language for our mother’s headstone. What thoughts should we convey, what would she have liked, and, more importantly, what could we all agree on? It got me to thinking, what would I like on my headstone?
I started writing down some ideas and possible final marker concepts that could be used on my headstone. I thought, why should I stick my family with the job of figuring all this out when I could relieve them of this effort and, at the same time, find something that I really liked? The task of creating my headstone language turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be.
“He was born, he died, and in between he ate,” would certainly be accurate, but I think focuses too much attention on my weight and not enough on the rest of me. “The next time you visit, would you please bring some donuts,” could probably be merged with the first one. “I wanted to hear all the nice things people were saying about me at my funeral, but I missed it by only a few days,” is an old Friar’s Club gag, and I would probably have to give them credit on the headstone. Since some stone makers charge by the letter, giving the Friar’s credit could be a costly undertaking—I just couldn’t resist using that reference. At any rate, credit can be costly no matter what type it is.
“They said so many nice things about me, I thought I was at the wrong funeral,” is probably a little too demeaning, and “Finally, his mouth is shut,” is definitely what my brother and sister would like, but probably also conveys too harsh a thought for a headstone.
What about a personal observation or political statement that could make me a legend in the family or help them remember me after I am gone? “I knew I should have had better insurance,” or “I told you I was sick,” are in this category and certainly, “Jonathan, whatever you do, don’t pay Dr. Ginsberg’s bill,” would work too.
I could also leave instructions or give permission to my family after I am gone — something that would help them make decisions without guilt or second guessing my thoughts, such as “Jonathan, if you get a good offer…move me!” Not that Shirley needs any help, but how about, “OK, Shirley, now you can pay retail.” My little brother might feel better if I had something like “I was only kidding Charlie, I was never going to flush you down the toilet.”
A nice poem or rhyme might be appropriate—“He once was young and once was fair; now he’s gone and he still had hair,” has a nice ring to it. “Once a druggist, once a scout. He loved to eat, and choked on a trout,” would deliver a medical warning about fish bones, as well as a flowing and rhyming little ditty.
Shirley thinks I am crazy for working on my own headstone instead of finishing my mother’s. We certainly are not going to use any of my suggestions posed in this article for my mother’s stone, and, as Shirley also pointed out, not for hers either. She offered up a few suggestions for my headstone project but her favorite turned out to be, “He never met a buffet he didn’t like.”
About the Author – Barry Pascal, the former North Valley Honorary Mayor and former Honorary Sheriff, owned Northridge Pharmacy for 32 years and is now retired. He has written seven comedy books and writes a humorous column for the California Pharmacists Association Journal, as well as for the North Valley Community Connection. He works at his computer everyday now since he created his new website, “Headstones R Us … where your wish can be your command … forever.”
© Barry Pascal June 2012