Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here Lies?

By Keith N Fisher

Have you ever wondered what your epitaph will be? A few years ago, I wrote my father’s obituary. It was an honor, but it left me wanting to know more. I had a wonderful, rich relationship with him. We spent hours talking, and he related many stories about his past, but I still wanted more.

Back in 2005 I lost both my grandmothers. I was blessed to be able to speak at their funerals and in each talk, I wanted to give them a voice of their own. Even though their physical bodies could not speak for themselves, I wanted to let them have one more moment.

I began to search everything I had in my memory and otherwise. Glimpses into their personalities. Things I remembered from their interaction with me. I read letters from them sent to me when I served a mission. I read a testimony left in a saved Book of Mormon. I read the poetry written by one of them. I think my talks turned out to be close to what they would’ve said, assuming their modesty allowed them to talk about themselves.

When Dad died, I tried to do the same thing. I quoted things he’d said on the miles of videotape I recorded at family gatherings. I did my best to give him a voice, but he didn’t write much. I was able to relate feelings he’d shared with me about my brothers, but it was mostly from my memory.

Have you seen the movie, The Ultimate Gift? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, like in the movie, we could get a video projection of our dead loved one, expressing personal messages to each of us?

As a writer, I often feel a sense of writing across generations. Ironically though, considering I used to write every day, I haven’t kept up with my journal. The sad thing is I missed writing some of the most important events in my life. Well, I have written a few things.

While reading those meager entries, I began to wonder what someone speaking at my funeral would make of my journal. Perhaps, I’d better make a rebuttal video.

Yes, I think writing in Journals is a good idea. Beyond a treatment for writer’s block, there is no better way for people to get to know you, and understand the way you think. Perhaps you’ll have a voice at your own funeral.

While thinking about the subject, I began to wonder, what would be carved into my headstone? What words of wisdom will somebody choose to describe my life?

Here lies Mr. Fisher. He lived. Now he’s gone.

How about these sentiments to describe my argumentative nature?

The man in this hole didn’t know, although he thought so.

Perhaps this one will be right.

Here lies what’s his name.

Whatever the epitaph, I want to be remembered for making a difference in people’s lives. I want people to think of me when they remember things that affected their lives for good. Perhaps in several years after my death, they will pull out an old book and want to learn about the author.

That is the best remembrance of all. To be the man who wrote the book, or spoke at the fireside that changed a person’s life. So, what ever gets on my headstone, (mostly bird poop I think), I want my epitaph to be in the lives of those I might have helped along the way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

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