At some point everyone thinks about what words will be written on their tombstone.
Or is that just me?
i mean, when i die, what short sentence can capture the essence of my life? i have had a couple of suggestions from beloved friends who know me (and my three-ring life), but i thought i would do a little search to see if i couldn’t get some new ideas. So, i turned to my old friend Google, and here are a few i found.
This epitaph captures the essence of Kay, who i picture as a smiling grandmother with crinkly, laughing eyes. And although a Reddit user actually tried this recipe and said it was “just okay”, i still want to get to know this woman – maybe sit on a stool and watch her cook, eat her fudge and listen to her stories.
i’m a pretty decent cook, but nothing i cook well is written down – it is more of an “experiment” and i often can’t quite replicate the same thing twice. And follow a recipe?? Well….it may come as a surprise to you, but following written directions is not really my strong suit.
So moving on…..
Rodney Dangerfield. The king of slapstick who made a living out of never getting any respect, gets one last laugh in death. This simple, funny one-liner captures the essence of the man made famous by simple, funny one-liners. And, it would be way more affordable than Kay’s break-the-bank fudge recipe. Short and sweet. Maybe we are on to something here…
Ok…maybe too short? And not really sweet…what i am looking for is something that captures the essence of me. One sentence that will provide a snapshot of what i was really all about on this planet. Something that tells a story…..
Okay okay….i think we’ve got a little too much story here. As it turns out, Herman bought a plot and put this headstone on it but arranged to be buried elsewhere upon his death. He enjoyed his revenge on his wife for some time and then upon his death, his estranged wife had the tombstone removed from the empty plot. i don’t know if this epitaph is true, but it rivals anything i’ve seen on Forensic Files and i have seen them ALL.
i was beginning to think i would never find the perfect epitaph for me, when i remembered a trip i took to a Northern California retreat center years ago with my Former Beloved (FB). We were hiking up a hill, climbing switchbacks, which to most climbers means an easier way of getting up a steep hill as far as one wants to go, but to me, not being able to see more than 15 feet ahead of me because the trail zig zags, just makes me want to see what’s around the next corner. And the next. And the next. And the…..well…pretty soon, we are pretty high up the hill and FB was getting nervous.
“Hey. Shouldn’t we turn around soon?”
“Just….gotta…see….what’s….around…this….corner…”, i pant. i have GOT to get serious with the exercise stuff.
“You’ve said that all the way up this hill…do you have any idea how high this is? You’re not planning on going clear to the top, are you?” FB asks incredulously and not at all out of breath-y. In fact, i don’t even think FB was breaking a sweat. i hate skinny people.
“Ok, ok….but i think we can make it. i mean, it’s not that far..is it?” i wipe the dripping sweat out of my eyes and look up, squinting in the sun. i think i could see the top from where i was standing, but i thought that at least four times while hoofing up this mini Mount Everest and all four times i was wrong. i hate being wrong. Especially about how high a stupid hill is that i decide to climb. At noon. In July.
“Look, I appreciate the effort, but we’ve got a pretty good view from here. Let’s take a few pictures and head back down.”
i turn and look back the way we come and…holycrapthatsalongwaydown!!! When did climbing up a mountain get so …. high?
“Ummm…yeah. This is good.” i respond, maybe a little less studlier than i intended. “Let’s head back down. i’ll go first.”
Now that right there? That should have been a warning sign. Note to anyone around me: when climbing down a steep, dusty, loose-dirt mountain trail, don’t let me go first. i could slide down the entire mountain with no one to catch my fall. And don’t let me go second either…or third. i’ll take out all of y’all on my short-cut free fall. In fact, just don’t let me climb mountains at all.
“Okaaaaaay…..you sure about that?” FB asks in a tone that implies my attempt at assuredness is not having the success i was hoping for.
“Yep! i can make it!” and with that, i took one step, the loose dirt beneath my feet shifted like a wake board on a sand dune and i went sliding down the hill like some crazy Looney Tunes cartoon character roller skating on marbles – arms windmilling wildly, trying to grab anything to stop my fall.
“AAAAAAAAHHHYYYYYYIIIIIAAAAAHHHHH!” or something like that came out of my mouth. A branch slapped me in the face. One leg went flying out from under me and i landed hard on my butt, the other leg twisted up under me, and somehow, unbelievably, i didn’t stop. In fact, my slide picked up pace and i saw the inevitable switchback up ahead. Either my trajectory somehow radically changes direction or i was going to soar off like some kind of forest-whale Free Willy off the edge of the ridge and see just how long it takes to reach the bottom of this suicide hill – the fast way.
i see a small tree on my right and reach out for it, hooking my arm around the trunk in a very cool Indiana Jones move and nearly jerking my shoulder out of its socket. THAT did it! i stopped like a yo yo on the end of its string and i hear FB running (running?) down the hill behind me. i also hear a snapping sound and realize that the difference between what i weighed and what the skinny tree could bear without breaking was a big difference indeed. Huge. Crap. i hate skinny trees.
i hear FB just behind me and (still!) not panting. Not. Even. A. Little. Bit.
“Grab me?!?” i shrieked just as Skinny Tree snapped in two. i shut my eyes. This was gonna suck.
And then it was over. FB had me by my other arm and was braced against…something…but was somehow holding me in place as pebbly dirt slid down the hill without me along for the ride. i breathed. i shook. Did i just almost die?
And that’s when i heard FB say, “No. Just…no. The next time you say, ‘i can make it!’, I am just going to tell you no. You know? I swear…when you die they are gonna write that on your tombstone.”
And that was it! My epitaph!
Until just a few days ago when my BFF suggested another…”Hold my beer”.
And that’s pretty good too.