One of the many surefire signs of getting older is reading obituaries. As morbid as that seems when you are in your 20s, 30s and even 40s, it doesn’t seem odd at all to those of us who have crossed the magical age of 50.
Obituaries are the Rodney Dangerfield of newspapers — they get no respect. Even their placement, at the very back of the newspaper, seems to attest to their morbid nature and lack of glamour. Maybe it’s because obits tend to remind us of our own mortality. Who among us, when reading the obituary of someone we knew, doesn’t feel just a bit superior for no other reason than the fact that we outlived the deceased.
But, I digress. My point is that I have come to the realization that obituaries are not about death, but about life. They should be the epitome of what any good story in a newspaper is — interesting, entertaining and informative. A well-composed obituary shouldn’t be mournful, but rather an encapsulation of the notable accomplishments of the deceased’s life. That’s why I have decided to write my own obituary now, while I can still recall the highlights of my life, thereby relieving my family from this dreary obligation in the inevitable event of my demise.
To wit, my obit:
CHILDS, FOSTER (aka The King)
I was born in November (evidently my parents had a great Valentine’s Day). When we were very young kids, my brother and I peed in a knothole in the floor of our second–story bedroom for three days before our mom caught on. My mother never forgave me for being born butt-first. My first kiss was with a girl named Debbie, on the beach in Oscoda. My first broken heart was from a girl named Debbie, on the beach in Oscoda. I achieved the highest IQ score in my fourth-grade class. I won the school-wide spelling bee when I was in sixth grade. I once threw a boomerang that came back to me. Many of my childhood friends are still my best friends. I attended three different colleges before not graduating. Most people don’t know that I was arrested and thrown in jail on several different occasions — all in my younger days. I married the love of my life. I consider ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ to be the best movie ever. My most memorable job was as a railroad conductor. I always say ‘Never Complain, Never Explain’ (I don’t always do it, but I always say it). I have been best man at six weddings. I have an inactive pilot’s license. I have a CPL. I once had a drink with Chevy Chase (cheap bastard, I had to buy). I have parachuted. I have written 1,051 ‘If I Were King’ columns for the Times. I have experienced two major earthquakes (Las Vegas and San Francisco). I dislike New York City, New Orleans and Southern California. I love Northern Michigan, Northern California and South Dakota. The best vacation of my life was in Costa Rica. The worst weekend (four days actually) of my life was in Dade County Jail. My greatest regret is that I didn’t enlist in the USMC. The hero in my life was my father. My greatest accomplishment was marrying well and raising our two kids to be good parents. If I could live my life over I wouldn’t change a thing. I have always believed that the best time to start thinking about retirement is before the boss does. And so, after 21 years, and by my own decision, this will be my last King column. Good bye, good luck — and thanks for reading.
NOTE: In lieu of donations to a worthy cause, please send flowers.
Opinions offered in If I Were King are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tri-County Times or its staff. Email the King at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some content adapted from the internet.