Living a life that makes for a good obituary
It has been said if you want guidance for how to live your life, you should write your own obituary. The rationale being, how you would like to be remembered is how you ought to live.”Jeffrey Bergeron, alias Biff America, aka Pudding Draws, Fudge Undies and Turkey Neck, died last Tuesday of natural causes; he was 106. To the end of his life Bergeron/America retained his sense of humor and most of his hair. He will be remembered for his poor spelling and love of outdoor recreation. “After a successful stint as a food server, Bergeron/America embarked on a mediocre, yet tumultuous, media career. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his exposé of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s extramarital affair with Siegfried and Roy. He retired early at the age of 55. This was made possible by a frivolous lawsuit filed against a ski resort for temporary impotence caused by a cold Poma chair. “After receiving a sizable settlement, Mr. America dedicated his life and much of his resources toward supporting liberal causes and keeping his wife happy. He was active in the Democratic and Green parties as well as various charitable and social causes such as children’s welfare, homeless issues and the legalization of medical marijuana. “Even at the end of his life, Bergeron/America was known as a tireless champion of those less fortunate, ecological causes as well as being a sexual athlete – verification available from his widow upon request.
“Bergeron is survived by his wife of 66 years, Ellen, who took the day off from powder skiing to attend the second half of his funeral, and his dog, Robby, who died 20 years earlier but was stuffed. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hillary Clinton Presidential Library.”The beauty of writing your own obit is that it can be a wish list of how you’d like your life to be. Granted, when I wrote the above death notice I took some poetic license such as: living to 106, winning a frivolous lawsuit, being a sexual athlete and retaining most of my hair. All it takes is a look at my forehead to see that one of those boasts is an exaggeration.But even if everything else in my faux obituary is a figment of my fantasies, the part about kindness and compassion does not have to be. Not every one can win awards, but even the least of us can give back to mankind and the planet.I just read a real-life obituary of a man named Nick Vennitucci, the son of an immigrant coal miner. Nick died at the age of 93. He was a farmer who might have passed through this world unnoticed but for his generosity with pumpkins. One day in the mid-1940s, just before Halloween, Vennitucci stopped his truck on the side of the road and handed out pumpkins to passing school children.
The act of kindness must have been satisfying because he continued to do that throughout the years. As the demand grew, he dedicated 25 acres of his farm exclusively for children’s pumpkins. Next to the Vennitucci obituary was one for Fred Ebb. Ebb wrote the lyrics to the Broadway hit “New York, New York,” “Cabaret,” “Chicago” and many other Broadway and movie hits. Before he died at the age of 76, Ebb had won awards and given accolades as one of the best lyricists of his generation. Though he did great things in his life, Fred Ebbs obituary was half the size of a poor farmer who gave pumpkins to kids.A sculpture of Vennitucci handing a pumpkin to a child will be erected in front of the Pioneer Museum. As well as being memorialized in bronze, the uneducated son of an immigrant was venerated by having streets and schools named after him, as well as being honored by then Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.I’ve heard it said that you seldom see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. Had Nick Vennitucci sold those pumpkins instead of giving them away to children, he would have died with more money in the bank. He also would have left the world a lesser place.
I would also guess the same spirit that motivated him toward kindness and generosity was part of the reason he lived so long.After reading about Nick Vennitucci, I have decided to go back and rewrite my own obituary.I’ll include more incidences of compassion and consideration and leave out the parts about my Pulitzer and sexual athletics. Because in truth, I probably will never win a Pulitzer Prize and wouldn’t want my history of sexual athletics to intimidate my 96-year-old widow’s next husband …Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio and read in several mountain publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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