His ratty old toupee

Whether you are preparing to die, a survivor, or dead, I want you to know something. There is nothing better than laughter to take the sting out of sorrow. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it is, as Arnold H. Glasow said, a tranquilizer with no side effects. As an obituary writer for www.ThePrecis.com for fifteen years, I’ve come to know death without actually going there. Clients often are struck dumb when I ask them to think of something funny about their deceased loved one. When that fails, I usually say, “Well, tell me something you’ve laughed at in the last few days.”

When that fails, I tell them about my stepfather, how my two sisters and I became utterly hysterical when we found his ratty old toupee in his bathroom drawer—alongside his toothbrush and toothpaste.

“And you put that in his obituary?” one client gasped.

“Nope,” I replied. “In his eulogy. And it got a huge laugh from the audience.”

One thing I’d like clients to know is that my job is to not only help them pay tribute to their loved ones but to also provide them with a joyful experience, one they will treasure. An obituary, like a eulogy, is a form of closure. That can be an ecstatic, even hilarious event, leading to yet another of my stories.

Illegal? Hell, yes!

Another thing I recall about my stepfather’s passing is spreading his ashes. Like our mom, he was a golfer. So my sisters and I knew he would love to nestle beneath the greens of his country club. Illegal? Hell, yes! But there we were, the three of us crowded in his golf cart, speeding around the fairways and roughs, my younger sister cradling his ashes in its ugly black urn, looking for the right spot.

Okay, so it was after midnight when we were less likely to get caught, arrested, and jailed. To top it off, we weren’t exactly sober. Martinis and a couple of glasses of wine at a village restaurant (using his yet-to-be-declined credit card) we enjoyed a fabulous meal, telling stepdad stories, and laughing all the while. Thus inebriated, we hopped into his golf cart and hightailed it to the crime scene around the block. The wind picked up, not the best circumstances for spreading ashes, but we were more worried about the cops. Or the golf club security forces.

Due to our concerns, and to the best of my memory, we ultimately rained his ashes all along the sixth fairway, laughing as we bid him adieu. Fortunately, we were never apprehended but our story lives on, endlessly repeated for generations to come. Our stepdad, the ultimate jokester, would have loved it.

Funny anecdotes can lift any obituary or eulogy to unexpected heights and give mourners a reason to—if not laugh—at least smile.

 

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