Columns

2013.03.20 Best obit ever? Wait 30 years, then decide

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

The recent death of a Mississippi man has many proclaiming his obituary, written by his daughter, to be the best obit ever. Of course, no one has read mine yet, and they won’t—at least for 20 or 30 years, hopefully.

Harry Stamps, of Long Beach, Mississippi, described as a “ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser and accomplished traveler,” died March 9. The obit claimed he could remember every meal he had eaten during his 80 year life. His signature bacon and tomato sandwich included Tennessee bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription.

Still on the subject of food, Harry “had a life-long love affair” with deviled eggs, boiled peanuts, Vienna sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

His everyday wardrobe included “a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom” and “his black-label elastic shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49.”

The list of things that Harry despised included phonies, know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who put on airs, all franchises of the television series Law and Order, cats, Martha Stewart and his 1969 Volvo.

Harry was said to particularly hate daylight saving time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. His obit noted that he passed away the day he would have had to move his clock forward, which his family viewed as his final protest. This little fact really got my attention.

I grew up with a father who also loathed daylight saving time, the invention of which he blamed on President Franklin Roosevelt, a man my father equated with the Devil. He went so far as to refuse to change his watch to acknowledge the time change.

During his final illness, he spent his last few months in the hospital, finally passing away two days after it was time to turn the clocks back. At the time, I said it was obvious that he hung on until he got his “lost” hour returned to him. I’m sure Harry Stamps would have liked that.

In fact, Harry’s obit contains a request from his family that you write to your congressman and ask for the repeal of daylight saving time. In light of what happened after his obit ran, they may be getting some extra sacks of mail in Washington.

Harry’s obit went viral last Monday, and by Thursday, it had received over 666,000 page views. By Saturday, Harry’s on-line funeral guest book had received over 2,300 signers, including one from some crackpot columnist from Fayette, Ohio.

Besides Harry’s, an obit for a man named Michael Blanchard shows up in an internet search for best obit. The Colorado man “enjoyed booze, guns, cars and younger women until the day he died.” Sounds like a fun guy to me.

Blanchard’s obit bemoaned the fate of many of his pals, stating “so many of his childhood friends who weren’t killed in Vietnam went on to become criminals, prostitutes and/or Democrats.” The line boosting Blanchard’s obit to best ever contention was the challenge to one “friend,” mentioned by name, to kiss Blanchard’s butt. I believe that’s called getting in the last word.

I like both of these obits, but I think I can do better. Since I figure I still have 30 years above ground, give or take a few, I have enough time to compose an obituary that will win the “best obit” contest. Hopefully, future Observer editor Ryland Green will see fit to run it at the appropriate time.

The first line is already complete: ”Rich Foley, fan of both meatloaf and Meat Loaf, confirmed his long-held suspicion that the late Joy Behar didn’t go to Heaven after his arrival there late last week.”

The list of my favorite recording artists will include many long-forgotten names such as Sue Saad and The Next, Sonny Throckmorton, Joe Sun, Judy Rodman, Murray Porter and Steve Fromholz. You’ll have better luck recognizing my favorite foods, although none of them agree with any of Harry’s favorites.

Hopefully, it will be a long time before  Ryland Green needs to run my obit. Just to be sure you don’t miss it, this is a good time to renew your subscription. I would suggest through 2050, at least. That way, you’ll be covered when subscription requests go viral.

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