I was driving to work yesterday and as I exited SH-225, I was passed up by a commercial truck with the Pizza slogan "What do you want on your Tombstone?" and I began to ponder this company's slogan and marketing strategy. Now I realize this may be an odd rumination at 3:30am, but nevertheless with my golden years steadily creeping up all over me, I find I do more thinking about the possibility of my own demise than I did as a robust and invincible man of, say forty-five.
What do I want on my tombstone, or rather as my final hurrah? Should I request actual swans be released into the air for my swan song? Do I want an accurate depiction of my life, a flowery tribute with gushing hyperbole, or a gritty tale of exploits and adventures? By the way, while I'm thinking about it, should I go ahead and write it now, so I can be sure I am accurately portrayed?
Here lies Baytown Bert
Our last words together were:
"This won't hurt"
"Are you sure?"
Will I be remembered as "that loudmouthed know-it-all forum-destroying guy" who always wrote in the paper exposing his incorrect and twisted version of wrongdoing and who found fault with everything and everyone? The self-righteous (and dashingly handsome) icon and self-appointed bastion of self-promotion who had no interest in making a contribution to society, but was preoccupied with making a fancy-schmancy name for himself by pointing out everyone else's failures? I hope not, but that would be better than nothing. My apologies to the regular "letters to the editor" contributors if anyone thinks I'm drawing a comparison.
Will someone submit to my stone engraver that I tried to make a difference in a positive way? "He made people stop and think" would be a good one in my book. "He exposed weakness in the system and then suggested a solution" is another that hopefully is accurate. "The man made a positive difference in my life," sounds pretty good. "He sure could whistle" would be a stretch, but would sound nice in the end.
Maybe I could have something humorous like "I told you I was sick!" or "I made an ash of myself". Maybe my bride will finalize my epitaph with a humorous poem:
Here lies my hubby:
Here let him lie!
Now he's at rest
And so am I!
I would like that and it would be partially true too. Sometimes I'm mean to her.
I'm thinking it might be well received if at the foot of my grave I have a pressure plate installed and when some unwitting passerby steps on it, a howl of anguish blasts forth, or maybe an obnoxious flatulence noise would rip through the reverent silence. Now that would be something original. "Ouch! Get off my feet! You're killing me all over again"! Poot!!!
Maybe I could have a loud speaker installed at the cemetery and at the touch of a button a person could hear me read each of my columns in succession, even if it took hours. I guess I should request the cemetery furnish a covered area with ample seating and each article could have a prologue by writer-extraordinaire Jim Finley to give it that extra touch of sober credence.
I might need a very large grave marker, something like those sepulchers over in New Orleans, if I'm going to get everything on there I will need. An extravagant building with lots of room for the many visitors that will come to leave stuff, like old newspaper clippings, photographs and pieces of art - and food for the hereafter, like peppered bacon and stuff. They say the food offerings ease the transition into the cosmos and I wouldn't want to take any chances on being hungry.
Music playing in the background would be a nice touch too, something multiethnic to reflect the diversity of Baytown and maybe an occasional Grito to keep folks moving along and to discourage looters. These kinds of things only work well if folks keep moving. I might have some Baytown Jaycee gospel fiddles too. In between it all, I think there will be room for Pink Floyd and Mean Gene Kelton and the Diehards. The sky is the limit… man.
I might as well set aside a little cash to retain the other Baytown Sun Columnists Jane, Ray, Natalie and Hilda to write at least one column a month (for a few years) mentioning my virtues as a writer and crediting me as their mentor. I figure this will be a welcome and profitable addition to their healthy Baytown Sun monthly stipend.
Last but not least, I would like Wanda Orton to dig up interesting historical facts on my many accomplishments in and around Baytown for a number of years. I want to be remembered with cold hard facts - like the stuff on Wikipedia. Am I asking too much? I don't think so.
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