Not So Famous Last Words

Those who know me, or have read my books, likely assume I’m more interested in humor than I am in the dark and morbid. And they’re right. Which is not to say I haven’t dabbled in the no giggle genres. But I knew early on it wasn’t a good fit for me. I’ll take a laugh over a groan any day.

In my memoir classes, for example, one of the first things I ask my students to write is a humorous obituary for themselves. I want them to be silly, creative, and if possible, relaxed. There’s really no point in avoiding the topic, just as there’s no chance of avoiding the end result. More often than not, my students have fun with it.

Then I wondered just how far one could take the idea. Here are a few samples of what I discovered:

I thought this one had a certain flair. I suspect I shall be sharing Mitchell’s views.

Sometimes, the truth hurts. In any event, poor Pancrazio is beyond caring.

Clearly, Mr. Allison was a man with a mission, though not a terribly humorous one. Still, one has to credit whoever ponied up for the headstone. Alas, the headstone company did not offer any editorial assistance, or they’d have changed “that” to “who” in the inscription. There’s a lesson here I suppose, something like old editors never die, they just keep on annoying people forever.

And why not a pyramid? Why not a recreation of Stonehenge? It’s only money, and you only get one lifetime in which to spend it.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Esther, but I have the distinct feeling we’d have gotten along well. And then there’s that editing thing again–the missing period (or exclamation point).

And finally, my absolute favorite:

Now that’s planning ahead!


About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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10 Responses to Not So Famous Last Words

  1. dorisreidy says:

    This is a great post, Josh!

  2. Dorothy Heinlen says:

    The cookie recipe tombstone is delightful! As it so happens, my husband fell, broke ribs and clavicle, and developed pneumonia. He died 2 1/2 months ago and I’m in the process of acquiring a tombstone. I want one with a weeping willow.

    I’m back in Georgia briefly and I hear there’s an uproar over charging a yearly membership. I’ll join next winter when I’ll be here long enough to enjoy it.

    Hope all is well with you and yours.

  3. I love the idea of death and humor together. Thanks.

  4. sonyabravermanaolcom says:


  5. Marlin Teat says:

    Allegedly, Francisco “Pancho” Villa spoke these final words to a group of reporters before his death “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something important.”

  6. pcartist says:

    True story. My grandmother was a known hypochondriac. She was born on Flag Day and Died on April Fool’s.

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