Recently I had occasion to write a tribute on behalf of the McPhails to a longtime family friend, Nancy Power. Since Nancy attended the memorials of our Dad and Mom, true and loving friend that she’d been since 1958, the McPhail children were happy to send a few recollections to a celebration of her life.
I sent a first draft to my four brothers to edit. We eventually settled on appropriate words for Rick’s son to read at the gathering. Later Brian jokingly suggested I write my brothers’ obituaries today for them to edit and approve for the future. “The prospect of crafting four obituaries will send me to an early grave,” I replied. “Given I will predecease you, you can flip a coin or draw straws to write mine instead.” On reflection, however, I thought: what an excellent idea.
Composing obituaries compels us to recall nice thoughts about individuals. We resurrect the best memories about them from our shared pasts. Going through this exercise when we’re all still alive offers a prime opportunity to refresh our relationships with family and friends.
We don’t need to show the eulogies to anyone. Rather, we bear them in mind while continuing in our regular communications. It’s a variation on the benefits of expressing gratitude as we remind ourselves often to accentuate the positive.
If someone influenced us favourably in earlier years, we can aim to maintain or revive the behaviour. For instance, I noted in Nancy’s tribute that we witnessed camaraderie, merrymaking, loyalty and compassion in our parents and their friends. Ideally my generation embraces these traits even now.
Glen and I did not attend a service last spring in honour of a dear friend Judy Frank. But her husband provided a link to an online video. We sensed Judy’s presence in every song, every reading, every moment of the ceremony. Judy knew profoundly how much her friends and family cherished her. They’d already spoken living obituaries to her. ♥
P.S. To family and friends: if you feel your ears burn in the next few weeks, understand that I am writing about your winsome ways.