The epitaph on my mother’s headstone reads, “Tell me about it.”

I don’t really know the story of why they went with that particular choice of eternal commemoration. I think it’s just something she said a lot in conversation, an embellishment after shock and awe has been garnered. I don’t know. I have the impression that my mother was something of a social butterfly and entertained her friends with some lively stories.

It has always struck me as humorously morbid. Morbidly humorous? As in addressing her ghost, “Well gee, Carol, you’re dead!” “Yeah, tell me about it.” Or bellying up to her headstone, like a patron to a bartender, ready to spill all their woes. That my elder family members would choose to put this phrase on her grave just speaks to the prevailing sense of humor that is, apparently, genetic. A perfect lack of overt sentiment that just serves to underscore the potency of their loss.

Occasionally I entertain the concept of my own epitaph (haven’t we all? Just me? Okay…). Something to carve decoratively into a squat marble edifice (obviously nothing less than a tomb will do for MY eternal rest), or more likely engrave on an urn that lives on the mantle (Bill wants to still be able to talk to me). No flowery biblical sentiments for me, no sir! I want an inside joke, a phrase that encompasses how I have lived, and what I mean to the people who love me. I want the very first reaction to be, “Oh, that is SO HER.” Followed by a quick tear and quicker smile.

It seems rather self-serving to write my own (NOT that I’m preparing for my imminent demise, mind you). Those who love me and know me best will have to rely on their own creativity. A whole life, summarized. A hundred years from now when someone wanders past my grave (or finds my urn in a garage sale… yurg) I want them to read it and say, “Huh!” Then stand and reflect upon the kind of person who inspired such words.

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This post went in a very unexpected direction. I was going to talk about how fulfilling my life has been, how much I’ve accomplished, the places I’ve traveled, the friends I’ve gathered, the experiences I’ve had. But for some reason that stuff up there is what came out instead. I think it has to do with the topic we’ve been discussing in school – we kicked it off by watching the Frontline video Facing Death. The subject is a well-known trigger for me.

Then, while digging for change at lunch, I came across the dollar coin that I received in change at the Field Museum during last May’s trip to Chicago, which made me think of Larry. Then THAT made me think of Simone. Which in turn made me think to ask my sister to put flowers on Grandma’s grave the next time she was in town. Which is right next to my mother’s, but putting flowers on her grave was a secondary thought. Which made me feel guilty. Which made me wonder if someone who remembers her better is tending to her grave. Which prompted, “The epitaph on my mother’s headstone reads, “Tell me about it.””

It’s fascinating, the way my mind works.