The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Some Laughs and Epitaphs

        When I was a child I was apparently shielded from death for the most part.  I don't really remember ever really visiting a cemetery in my younger days other than Boot Hill in Dodge City, Kansas and I'm not sure that was even a real cemetery or just part of the tourist make-believe scene. 

         I can recall adults talking about death in somber quiet tones as I would carefully try to listen and try to understand what they were talking about.  In the 1950's it didn't seem like many people really died and when they died in the movies it was all drama and no blood.  When I was a child death seemed like a story and not something that really happened.

        During my family's drive across country when we moved from Pennsylvania to San Diego I remember visiting historic Front Street in Dodge City.  Part of the attraction was the rustic cememtery called Boot Hill (because they died with their boots on), but it all seemed like comic fun with crude tombstones with funny epitaphs similar to the following which is actually found at Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona:

           




             Here lies Lester Moore
                Four slugs
                From a forty-four.
                 No Les
                  No More.









            Epitaphs can be funny, sad, philosophical, politcal, or whatever the deceased or those who want to comment on the deceased want to come up with.  The epitaph is the final statement that defines the deceased for as long as the tombstone exists.  There are tombstones that are inscribed with a signature saying like Mel Blanc's "That's all folks!" or  Jackie Gleason's "And away we go!"  Then there are the more complex epitaphs that go into detail telling about a person, citing something they said or wrote, or quoting a poem.

          In a poetry class that I took when I was attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, one of our assignments was to write our own epitaph.  This was probably around 1972, although I actually used a song that I had written in high school in about 1969.  The song was intended to be performed in a style reminiscent of carousel music with something like a grand Wurlitzer organ providing the instrumental backing.  As far as I am concerned songs are poetry, so this one worked for the project of my epitaph:

          Look into the eyes of death,
        Cold and lifeless now they seem,
        But once these eyes had warmth within them,
        And once this man was still living.

        When I lived I ran through fields
         And strolled on paths near mountain streams.
         I knew beauty and I praised it.
         I had wishes; I had dreams.

        But now these eyes no longer live
        And this body is turning to dust.

      The project as it was turned in was typed inside a tombstone shaped outline.  Curiously I put my date of death as 2036.  I hope I live longer than that, but if I were making a prediction at that time that turned out to be correct then I still have several years to go.  So far my prediction has been accurate--- thank goodness.

          Have you written your own epitaph?  What would you want your epitaph to say?  Would you rather change the subject?   Does death creep you out?

11 comments:

  1. "Spunky to the end!"

    LOL - never really thought about my epitaph. Although I didn't think I'd make it past my 20th birthday, so guess I'm doing pretty good now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes I wrote mine as an assignment, but I can't locate it.

    I wasn't sheltered from graveyards, but I was rarely taken to funerals. So I felt (and still do)weird about going to funerals.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And almost forgot - you have a Sunshine award at my blog today!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your words were very good, Since having 2 berevements in as many months some years ago Death do spooke me a little so have never written an epitaph, but one amusing incident I recall happened before my husband's passing was this,
    My husband, son and myself were at my father- in-law's grave, husband said to son "Put these dead flowers in the bin please"
    Son came back with a grin on his face.....not the sort of expression for a cemetary and said
    "Dad, on the bin there's a notice saying NO HOT ASHES TO BE PUT IN HERE" being a crematorium also we did see the funny side.

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
  5. `
    Hey, good subject, rLEE-b.

    Nah, death doesn't creep me out at all. In fact, I'm quite looking forward to mine because all of my talk about "a better world" ain't just talk. I'm gonna look Death right in the face, spit in his eye and say, "Now DO somethin', punk!"

    Never really thought about my epitaph before (probably because I've left instructions to be cremated and scattered), but a good epitaph for me could probably be borrowed from Waylon Jennings: "I always was crazy but it kept me from going insane."

    Or, I could go a slightly more serious route and borrow from Brian Wilson: "I just wasn't made for these times."

    Well, I gotta get back to practicing my spitting technique. Don't wanna miss Mr. Death's eye, ya know! Only gonna get one chance.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

    ReplyDelete
  6. Here lies The Old Geezer
    Saved by the grace of God
    in the spring of 1980.
    October 12, 1946-2036 sounds good to me!
    I'll go with you Lee.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog.
    Your comments are always welcome.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend,
    God bless you and your family,

    Mr. and Mrs. Geezer

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yikes - no - I've never written mine & don't think I will. Just a little creepy :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Never thought about writing an epitaph. Maybe because I've always felt that I will live a long life, therefore, death is not close. I imagine when I am old, being the writer that I am, I'll do it. I'll remember Arlee Bird when I do. :)
    I like yours.
    And no, death does not creep me out.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting topic, Arlee. Death does not freak me out, although I do hope it is not lurking close by. I never thought of writing my epitaph, although I do think I will write a last testament. That practice has started to be popular again.

    BTW, thanks for stopping by my blog. Appreciate your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No, I've never thought about writing one. I want to be cremated and have my ashes sprinkled in the ocean, so a lasting epitaph for me would have to be cast in anything but stone.

    Thanks for the visit and I hope you'll come back!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Since my husband I are nearing the age of giving thought to such things, we chose no epitaph except the cryptic name, birth and death dates.

    We refused the Christian cross with perhaps, illogical thinking, but if those who knew us and visited our grave, should know we were believers. If not, then our lives did not reflect our core values for them to see.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and congrats of the blog award.

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee