When I was little, my grandmother put on this very serious face and said “Alison, you never speak ill of the dead.” Her grave demeanor scared my youngish imagination into full force, with ghosts haunting and zombies strangling me if I said anything “ill” of them. As it turns out, my Angel-of-a-Grandmother passed down her credence to some folks in the media too.
You’ve seen this happen. A local reporter stands in front of someone’s house that was just in a car accident, murdered, or kicked in the head by a deer. The news station has no actual information regarding the incident, so the reporter shoves her microphone at the Neighbor and says something like this: “Gosh, she was great. Always smiling. Really cared about other people.”
This is the part of the post where I start hoping that God still has dial-up so Grandma (rest in peace, love you, please don’t move into my attic) can’t pull up Miss Early Bird on her iPad. Living people feel an obligation to hyperbolize the awesomeness of their dead friends and relatives. When I die, I don’t want this to happen to me.
If my death is five-o’clock-news-worthy and the Woman Who Saw Victim Shopping at Woodman’s uses words like “wonderful” and “amazing” or the word “so” prior to any disgustingly optimistic adjective, please call TMJ4 and correct her statement.
I do not want my non-existent, mediocre reputation tarnished in my grave. To make things easier for everyone, I have written a standardized statement for use on the Today show.
“Ali? Uh, she was kind of unsocial. Liked to go to bed early. A little awkward. Laughed at her own jokes. Never returned phone calls. She did have a pretty sweet blog though. Perhaps we should turn it into a book and her nephews can go to college using the profits.”
You have a chance to formulate your post-dramatic-death statement while you’re alive. Go ahead. Write yours in the comments section below.