« Name the Virus | Main | Lockhorns Aloud »

When I'm Dead

I've been doing a lot of funerals lately and it's always interesting to hear how people are remembered and for what. Here are some common things I do and say that I hope my children will remember about me when I'm dead.


"Look it up!"

We live in the golden age of research. I carry with me wherever I go a store of knowledge greater than the Library of Alexandria. Sure, you can't believe everything you read, but you never could! So, to me, with this incredible treasure at our fingertips, it's nearly inexcusable not to do basic research. If you have a question, look it up! If you are curious about something, look it up!

"I like to brush my teeth."

My children make fun of my toothbrushing fetish. They even have a song about it.
He likes to brush... his teeth! He likes to brush... his teeth!
He takes his toothbrush with him wherever he goes, because
He likes to brush... his teeth! He likes to brush... his teeth!
But I don't mind being remembered for that.

"Be on time!"

I'm tough on my kids about punctuality but being on time is an easy way to tell someone that you care about them.

"Geek out."

It's fun to obsess about things. And it's more fun when it's a shared obsession. Simon and I geek out about World of Warcraft. Emma and I geek out over Buffy. We all geek out over Doctor Who.

"Make the most of the roles you get."

In theater you don't always get the parts you want, but you can still enjoy the roles you get. Sometimes it's more challenging and satisfying to really immerse yourself in a role you didn't expect. And, ultimately, it's always more fun to excel at the role you got rather than moaning over the role you didn't get. Who wants to live like that?

"There is a song to be sung about everything."

I'm a shameless bard of every little thing that happens in our household, no matter how small. Actually, some of the best songs are about the little things. And it isn't about singing well, it's just about singing.

"Presentation is everything."

I like to cook but, even more than that, I like to plate. To me it doesn't matter if the meal is small or big, a well presented meal is a joy to the eyes and adds to the whole experience.

"Do the math."

Math is fun. Further doing the math yourself and thinking things out logically and systematically can not only save you a lot of money and hardship, it also keeps your mind limber.

What do you want your children or friends to remember about you when you're dead?


I've though about this a lot. Unfortunately, most of what I come up with are things I'm trying to teach them that I hope finally stick, not things about me as a person. Of course, as a mom, I am not really a person to them, at least not right now. But here's a few things I hope they'll remember:

1. That Mommy didn't mind too much that they got stickers on the floor, or dried play doh in the carpet, or paint or water whereever. I knew that the clean house police don't come around handing out gold stars (ok, that's most of the month; for 3-4 days, I'm a screaming harpy about the tiniest mess, then sanity returns).

2. Cooking with Mommy; try some spices, sure, you can break an egg, keep stirring, here's some more frosting....

3. Pumpkin cookies and banana bread

4. Reading books on the bed

5. Juice and cuddlies

6. Sammy Elf and the Halloween Ghost

7. The Diaper Dan song, the Baby Girl/Baby Boy song, "She's a big big girl," and the Pants song

8. Planting the garden

9. That I try to write everything down, or at least get a picture of it.

10. That I had every confidence in their abilities to write a story or do a science project, with minimal assistance from me, and that I was always thrilled with the outcome

11. That I loved, respected, and appreciated their father.

12. That I always tried my best to obey God, even when I wasn't sure I wanted to.

Here's what I remember about my own father:

1. He loved to study the Bible; he had a green little briefcase that he filled with study materials

2. He filled his lunchbox with tracts, and he always tried to be ready to discuss God with anybody, anywhere, anytime

3. When he gave us a "talking to," we called it "getting Bibled".

4. He was very sentimental and could get teary at mushy TV scenes

5. He loved the Cincinnati Reds

6. When he imposed a very harsh punishment, you could count on him commuting your sentence if you just took it with grace

7. He could not teach me to drive or do long division or algebra; he just lost it

8. Tickle Monster

9. He pretty much lost every fight he had with my mom

10. He spent a lot of time fixing others' houses and cars, but it took awhile for him to get around to ours (I think this is typical)

11. He worked a lot; sometimes 2 jobs, often bad shifts, so it was exciting when he was home to play with us

12. He worried about being proud

13. He loved annoying sayings like "you didn't control the situation; you let the situation control you."; he loved puns.

14. He loved very sappy poems and very sappy easy listening music

15. He was much harder on his sons than he was on his daughters

16. He loved chess and checkers; he loved to play catch with us

17. He loved nasty things like licorice and root beer candy

18 He loved math, and could do it in his head very easily; in the days when McDonald's cashiers had to add your order up on their pads, they'd always get our huge orders wrong, and then my dad would go through the math with them and show them their mistakes. He probably humiliated those little high school girls, but I expect he thought he was doing them a favor

19 He wanted to be a preacher when he retired

20 When he found out he was sick, one of the last coherent things he told us was not to blame God, but I did for a long, long time

Leah, it is a great sadness to me that I didn't get to know Uncle Mike as an adult. I think that I'm a lot like him in some ways, and a lot like Uncle Jan in others. I assure you, though, I'd never take tracts to work in my lunchbox.

Thank you for taking the time to share this.

Honestly one of the reasons I wrote this is that I've been thinking that I'm fast approaching the age your father was when he died. How old was he exactly?

I was going to leave a comment, but you got me crying too much.

I worry to about my children and all they're gonna remember is all those times I chewed them out for doing or not doing something. They'll undoubtedly remember the hours of standing in Church, hopefully not all of it bad. I can only hope that I have enough time left with them that we can make more good memories.

He was 40. He was born on February 8, 1943 and died on November 20, 1983--I guess one way I am like him is that I have an obsession with dates. So I knew that I outlived him after 11:40 pm on October 26 last year. It felt eerie, and what really struck me about it was "wow, that was fast. He really was young."

I think the two of you do have a lot in common. He was fascinated with religion, he liked logic and puzzles and history. I was proud of him, really, for taking all those tracts to work with him; to me it showed that he really did not care what other guys at work thought of him (this was a factory, mind you, and from what he said abt guys he worked with, I expect he stuck out like a sore thumb). He told us once that one day, the lunch box popped open and the tracts fell out everywhere, and the men just laughed at him, but he didn't feel embarassed, only sad for them, because they needed to learn what was important in life. When I think about it, I imagine he also carried those tracts because he was not always confident in his teaching ability. He dropped out of college (he had wanted to be an accountant), because he just wasn't that into school--he was good with his hands. I think one reason why he threw himself into studying the Bible was that he was kind of thrilled that he could do well on a more "academic" level.

I wish I had gotten to know him as an adult, too. There are things I'd like to ask him. I would love for him to meet Brett (who is a lot like him, just more "scientific" and not very sentimental), and I would love for him to have seen all of his grandchildren. I think he would have been a wonderful grandfather (I am not so thrilled with Brett's dad, or Janet's new husband in that dept.). I really wonder what he would have been like, how he would have changed, had he lived. It's tempting, really, to think that,had all that never happened, every bad thing that happened in our family since would not have occurred, but of course we can't know that--it may well have been worse in some way. It's also easy for me to see my father as a little more perfect than he was, but it's kind of comforting to be able to do that, really.

40? Wow. I had forgotten that he was that young. I thought he was 42 or 43. Well, that means I surpassed his age November 21 last year.

We all live on borrowed time anyway.

Terri--I can so relate! One reason it took me a couple of days to post was because I was spending it saying things like "Quit it! Stand in the corner! Go play! No, really, go play! Get off the bed! Pick that stuff up! You can either pick that up or get a spanking, which do you want? and variations of the above. As for church,I don't think I've heard more than one or two sermons all the way through in 6 years, I'm never in the right frame of mind for communion, and when Brett's working, I'm really tempted to skip evening services. I comfort myself with the thought that some poor woman missed the Sermon on the Mount completely because her baby was crying and her preschoolers were pestering her, while her husband was sitting with some elders at some gate somewhere, wearing that scarlet she made while her light was burning all night :)

I know what you mean about church. I have the struggle about eucharist myself but I've been told time and time again that my presence is enough and I need it! With my husband almost a priest it also looks bad if I don't. I know now why the room is called a cry room and it's not because of the kids in it, it's the parents. God grant me patience.

Post a comment