Wednesday, February 22, 2012

He's Dead Jim

As a literary device attending one's own funeral has some real possibilities.  Certainly Mark Twain (probably cribbing a little from The Odyssey) got some good mileage out of this in Huck Finn.  But take it from me, it is not as funny as you might think.

Permit me to explain.

When I started practicing medicine in a medium sized town in Wisconsin some years back there was a fellow with the same name in the next town over.  Same first name.  Same rather uncommon last name.  He was even called "Doctor" by many although he was a Chiropractor and I an MD.  We differed only in our middle initial.

Not surprisingly we sometimes got our mail mixed up, an occasional nuisance that our respective office staffs managed efficiently.  By all accounts he was a nice enough fellow, or so said the numerous patients that we had in common. 

I guess he had a few more difficulties in life.  He had a heart attack at a young age and for a while some peripheral acquaintances asked sincerely about my health.  Tragically his wife died, and I got several cards of condolence.  I forwarded them on.

But his life did improve, or so I inferred from the airline tickets that arrived in my mail one day, indicating that I was going to California with a woman whose name I did not recognize.  My wife did not recognize it either. And you may be assured, she asked a few pointed questions on this topic.

And then one day he died.

Reading an obituary with your own name in the big black type is not funny in the least.  It makes you realize that your continued residency of this world is by no means certain.  Reading over the list of things he had done, organizations he belonged to, etc was also a bit humbling, although to be fair Chiropractors are famed for joining lots of civic groups.  Not being on call probably gives them more time for that sort of thing.

It reminded me that it might be wise to do a rough draft of my own obituary so that my family does not need to muddle through with some sort of generic boilerplate should my demise be unexpected.  I will put that on my to do list.

At least my alter ego had a decent picture with his obituary, sparing my family the descent of concerned well wishers bearing Casseroles of Condolence. 

Also on my to do list: set aside a really outstanding picture of myself.  Ideally doing something exotic and fun.

Preferably wearing a great hat.

1 comment:

Honeybee said...

Reminds me of The Honest Man's favorite joke: A man dies. His widow, a very frugal woman, goes to the local newspaper to submit an obituary. She says all she wants to put in is "Pa died." When told she got 5 words for free she revised the obit to read, "Pa died. Boat for sale."