Will yours read like a post-reincarnation Tinder profile? Or more like a résumé for a middle-management position under St. Peter?
Weekly email archives and occasional extra words that don't have a home anywhere else on my site.
“She did not die peacefully because she was horrified by the constant attack on literature, facts, knowledge, history and truth currently raging in Florida and across the country.”
So hollered the obituary of Ella Chapman, a justice-minded spitfire I fervently wish I could’ve shared a bottle of wine with while she was still alive.
But I did not know this woman. I am sad about this.
But when obituary went viral on Monday, my first thought was, “Damn, I’ve gotta write about this. Woman knew her brand voice.”
(Actually, my first thought was, “How much can I afford to throw at the ACLU today?” Check and check. 💰)
Ella Chapman knew what she was about and let everyone around her know, in no uncertain terms, that she would not go so gently into that good night, but carry on her own good fight.
I’ll temporarily entertain the idea of an afterlife and hope she’s just delighted watching the ACLU’s little windfall on her behalf. And maybe even heartened that kindred spirits are lifting her voice up.
My own grandfather’s obituary was a reflection of his stiff, warming cocktail of military-bred stoicism, no-nonsense business sense, and deep-seated softness that inspired yearly poems he wrote to his family.
My grandmother joined him on the dance floor of a Phi Gamma Delta formal in the hereafter seven years later — almost to the day.
Her obituary was true to her gracious nature as a lifelong grande dame of every social circle she belonged to, with a whisper of the stickler formality that led her to gift me Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers when I came of age*.
I’m not sure people who didn’t know them will be able to read them so clearly between those lines, but they jump off the page to embrace me as I see those too-few words meant to evoke their memory.
Miss you, Gam and Grandy.
“If your obituary isn’t like this, I don’t even wanna read it.”
So read my work wife’s text to me after I shared Ella’s obit with her.
And you’d best believe that after I’m harvested for every possible scientific pursuit and incinerated, my obituary will absolutely be “like this.”
It won’t be Ella’s, obviously, but it’ll be spicy. Because I’m almost six feet of fire-roasted serrano on legs.
And how do I know? Because I’m gonna write it myself. 👩💻
I had the honor of doing the final copy edit on the obituary my grandmother had written for herself and revised over and over, after key life moments changed the trajectory of her narrative.
I thought it was silly at the time, but now that I think about it…
Why wouldn’t you want to have the last word on your brilliant life?
Rest in righteous rage, Ella. I know you’re already doling out some choice words to the gun-toting snowflakes who bought their way inside the pearly gates.
* Yes, that’s a real book. It is clearly responsible for my perpetual politesse.
F-S: Reserved for rest