Friday, April 25, 2014

Writing My Own Obituary

It's the newest craze:  writing your own obituary.  Have you noticed?  There are "how to" books, obituary kits, workshops, workbooks, and even funeral homes getting in on the craze.  Evidently, while family is meeting with the funeral director to plan one funeral service, others in the family (the widow, the widower, for example) can interject their own obituaries into the mix and file their obit for safe-keeping.  Cause you know . . . everybody gonna die!

Seeing as how my wife won't write an accurate portrayal of my life, and would likely opt for the cheap 25-word "free" obit in the newspaper once I croak, I have been considering writing my own obit to save her the hassle (if, indeed, I go first).  In fact, this was part of my Easter message this year.  I won't share my facts here, but I do find the self-obit to be a fascinating turn.

However, some years ago I did have an interviewer ask me a penetrating question.  She asked, "After you die, do you think people will consider you to be a pastor who wrote, or a writer who was also a pastor?"

Interesting question, and a fascinating distinction.  I'm not sure, at this juncture in my life, if I could accurately answer that one.  But here is what I do know.

There are some people who know me first and foremost as a writer (and some who are surprised to discover that I also am a pastor).  

And there are other people who know me as a pastor (but who are flabbergasted to learn that I also am a writer).

As to the former, I recently had an editor tell me, "If I had known you were a pastor I would have suggested another book for you."

And as to the latter, I meet people every month (and some in my own congregation) who have known me for years, but who are oblivious to my work as a writer.  "When did you start writing?" they'll ask.  Or, "You write stuff?"

I'm fine with both positions . . . I've leaned to live in this twilight zone and navigate it with some ease.  What I do know is that, regardless of how I define my life's work, most people simply don't know me.  This includes most friends and a fair number of family.  Heck, my wife and mother don't even know how many books I have written, nor have they read them--not even the books dedicated to them (and this is no joke, Sally).  But I don't sweat it.  My wife and mother haven't heard most of the sermons I've preached either, and it was only a few months back that my son said to me, "You write books?"  I pointed to the shelf containing my entire corpus of 30+ titles, front covers exposed with my name in bold, and he merely grunted and said, "Never noticed."  I asked him, "What do you think I've been doing all these years working all night long, slaving away in the office?"  "You write at night?" he asked. 

I give up.  My obituary won't be written by me.  But I doubt anyone in my family will write it either.  And if they do, you can bet they'll pad it with a bunch of lies.


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