Do you like what your obituary would say today?

Published 10:39 pm Thursday, January 26, 2006

By Staff
Everyday my work life usually involves obituaries. Sometimes I am the one to type in the words which sum up a person's life, or I might just place them on the pages of that day's newspaper.
I go over the spelling of the survivor's names, the names of where the deceased went to school and worked. We hope to reach the friends and relatives in time so that they may visit with the survivors and come to the funeral home to offer their last regards.
Truefully the obituaries have always been the place I turn to first when reading a newspaper, no matter if it is my hometown paper, or a community I am just visiting.
Last week my son sent me an obituary just to read, informing me of the death of one of his favorite teachers at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.
She was a literary person, so I was pleased that whomever worded her obituary had a flair for bringing her to life for the reader.
An obituary can touch on how the past of a person could have affected their choices of a career. Details of their childhood, many times never known by friends, come out in the obituary or at the funeral home, during the visitation.
This teacher, Jane Ellen Mitchell Syburg, who died at 78, had two brothers, who both died from childhood diseases. It was the depression and her father, who worked for Ford Motor Company, had to move often due to his job. He died when she was 23.
Still, she went to college in Iowa and got a master's degree from the University of Notre Dame. She taught grade school, high school and when retired, for the Forever Learning Institute.
She wrote books and plays, which she saw produced.
It was while reading this I got the idea that maybe all of us should write our own obituary now, before we die.
It is going to happen to us one day. By sitting down and thinking about what others will read after we are gone, we might be inspired to change the way we live the rest of our life.
We have all heard “you can't take it with you.” What you leave are children, grandchildren, memories of good works.
The list of accomplishments, memberships, volunteer activities, which we groan about when we have to type them up, are a sum of that person's days.
We put in whether they liked to fish or golf. The later unfortunately we must be very careful about when we type, as golf has easily been turned into “gold,” as the f and the d are next to each other on the keyboard.
In mine it may say she had 700 costumes at one time, and rented them out for Halloween. Maybe some of the kids I dressed as princesses and karate kids will remember.
Mrs. Syburg wrote and directed plays. In her obituary someone had written “we regret to announce that for the rest of the run, her role will now be shared by the cast. No replacement could be found.”
I bet she would have liked how that was written.
Reading more makes you wish you had known her, doesn't it?