Epitaphs have been on my mind the last few days. Yes, part of that is probably due in part to the fact that I’m having surgery this week, but it could also be the October effect kicking in. Tis the season where people share pictures of cemeteries and grave markers/tombstones, and it’s always interesting to see what people had put on their final memorial or requested for their dearly departed loved ones.

A lot of people go with the standard “Rest in Peace” or “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Sometimes, the person knows ahead of time that they have dwindling days, and they request specific messages.

My mom did that – rather, my aunt who raised me and was therefore my mom in about all the ways that counted. Now that I’m older, I find her choice of epitaphs truly profound and somewhat heartbreaking. She chose “She rests in peace.”

Mom didn’t have an easy life. Part of that was circumstance, but a good bit of it was due to her own choices and personality. She wasn’t an easy person, though I think she was good. I know she tried to be good. But she was very angry, unable to move past a lot of the wrongs that had been done to her. That made her bitter over time, and it was so unnecessary…

If she were alive today, if I could have a conversation with her now about that bitterness, I’d tell her to let it go. Encourage her, demand she stop letting the past win. She couldn’t see the positive for her own negativity. And that didn’t make for an easy or happy time for a lot of us around her. Being the tactful soul that I am, I’d probably also tell her at some point in that conversation to put her big girl panties on, for crying out loud, and deal because sometimes life sucks, and we just have to get the heck over it.

Somehow, I don’t think she’d take that too well. Did I mention she was also stubborn as a danged mule? She’d buckle down. So would I—I got the stubborn gene from both my bio parents. God alone knows who would win that battle of wills. I’m glad on the one hand that I don’t have to face that argument. On the other… I’d love to have seen her thrive and be happy for once. I don’t think she ever was as long as I knew her.


Today’s gearing up to be an interesting and hopefully positive day. We meet with the surgeon this afternoon and also have the pre-op appointment at the facility where the procedure will be done. The actual surgery day is Wednesday, and it can’t come soon enough for me. Conversely, I really am dreading it.

Any time I have surgery, I end up facing my own mortality in an uncomfortably close way. I update the estate papers, leave instructions for people, and emphasize to the surgical team my desire for them to please not let me die. Hey, cover all your bases, right? So part of this whole process is trying to figure out if, God forbid, something happens – what to do with me?

I don’t want to be stuck in a casket and plunked into a hole in the ground. I’m sorry. I just don’t find that idea comforting, even though I probably wouldn’t know it was happening. I don’t mind the idea of cremation, but I also don’t want my husband to have to be faced with having to live with my cremated remains indefinitely as he figures out what to do with me. I do want to be an organ donor if possible – hubby’s aunt is a lung transplant recipient, and seeing how precious that gift of life has been for her, it’d be nice to be able to do that same thing for other families.

But then what to do with what remains? Well, through a funny meme a friend shared, I know. And I’m quite serious about this. I want to be planted. They have these things called living urns, and you basically use some of the cremated remains of a person to serve as the basis for growing medium for a plant. You can choose from a number of trees and shrubs that are provided to the urn company through the Arbor Day Foundation, and I think that sounds like the loveliest of ideas.

Imagine, you’re gone, but in a special place chosen by your loved ones grows a mighty oak or a stunningly pretty blooming cherry tree or a cheerful hydrangea…. And you are part of that tree on a basic level. The meme that sparked the whole idea joked that this was how we end up with haunted forests. I find that also to be quite intriguing. As a matter of fact, that idea might go into a book. Macabre? Yes, it is. But it’s also neat.

I wouldn’t want hubby to plant me with only one kind of tree. I’d like to be several – a stunning red maple, a hydrangea, the aforementioned blooming cherry… and maybe a rose bush. A Lady of Shallot perhaps. I mean, go big or go home, right?

As for my epitaph, which hopefully won’t be necessary for many, many, many years to come… I like this. “Be Good, Be Kind, Be True, Be Honest. Be the Light that Shines in the Darkness.” Hmmm. That sounds awfully perky, and I’m not a perky person. I may have to rethink this one.

Happy Reading!

T. L.