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July 2016 Writing Prompt

21127017058_08d6dc3dbd_bMy friend Cory alerted me to an article in the Wall Street Journal I found intriguing. A newspaperman for more than fifty years in Haverhill, Massachusetts, wrote what he called “probably the most important story of my life.” His obituary. Now, seventy-five-year-old Tom Vartabedian urges other people to not “leave it to chance” and have a family member omit a detail of primary importance to you.

For any journalist, the first professional writing he/she does is likely to be an obituary. I know I wrote my share of them when I started working for newspapers. I depended on information provided by family members and tried to make the obits as interesting as possible, but in terms of priority, these articles are usually at the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

So, why not write your own obituary? Doing so doesn’t have to be a morbid exercise. Make it fun. You don’t have to use it anytime soon. I’ve given this assignment before in classes, and people loved it, once they recovered from the initial shock. Writing your obituary forces you to review your life and decide on what details are most important to include.

That’s your assignment for this month: write your obituary and post it here. Then tell us about your experience writing it.

If you need a bit of motivation, read the article, Obituary Writing in the Selfie Age, which also includes a video, in the Wall Street Journal.

photo credit: Private Sydney Colbert #3119 via photopin (license)

1 Comment

  • Judi
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    How odd that you would give this assignment now. On Wednesday they will pull the plug on my ex and best friend, Bobby. He will be cremated. There will be no service. People think they are doing us a favor when they request no service, but it doesn’t work for me. It tends to leave me with no closure. As a result, I will take this opportunity to write his obit and share what he was like with you.

    Bob was born August 14, 1942 in Providence, R.I., one of 6 children. He was trouble from the get go. His mother said he was the reason she drank, but he knew better. He would get in fights and end up in jail. Finally, a judge told him jail or the service, and he enlisted in the United States Marines. It would been better for him if he had stayed in, but he didn’t. That was his regret. Through his life he sold cars and painted for a while, but by far his calling was the road. He would l climb up behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, head down the road smiling all the way and never look back. His favorite was Oregon and Washington. He taught my son to be a truck driver as well. He was married 3 times, had 3 daughters, but considered my son the son he never had.

    Bob had a temper that he only learned to control recently. Probably too old and too tired. Sometimes he was a pain in the ass, sometimes endearing. He was always kind to me and never called me by my name. He always called me “love”.

    His family will miss him; my children will miss him; I will miss him. When the weather gets cool, we’ll have a bonfire at his brother Davey’s house and we’ll sit around and talk about him, laughing and remembering.

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