“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated . . .”
This quote from Mark Twain touched my very soul yesterday when I got a message from one of my old colleagues who said that he had read something “disturbing.” The exact quote via Messenger was: “Michael, are you okay? I saw something disturbing for your name.”
My reply: “Disturbing? I haven’t done anything to warrant that since I made an illegal turn into the senior citizen center in Upper Merion Township last week and a cop stopped me.”
What concerned my friend – Scott Rudolf of the Defender Association of Philadelphia – had been my obit somewhere on the Internet. I had written it with the help of a benevolent group called “Ever Loved” which provides an absolutely free service for family and loved ones who have recently passed away. It provides nuts and bolts instructions on what to include in an obituary, memorial websites as well as a place for digital passwords and an advanced healthcare directive.
The website I traveled onto was https://everloved.com/obituaries/. I began working on the obit very quickly pointing out my work history, my veteran status as well as my singing with a Doo-Wop group as a teenager and serving as an altar boy at a Catholic Church in North Philadelphia.
In addition, I provided the obit page with five pictures. One was a grainy black & white photo of me as a first-grade “angel” that escorted second graders from their pews up to the altar for their first Holy Communion. The others included me singing with my Doo-Wop group as well as that handsome devil in his army uniform smiling at age 21 just a few months before humping the boondocks in the Vietnam War as a combat infantry platoon leader.
The other pictures are of me standing in some field some 50 miles outside of Saigon smiling with my boonie hate and fatigues. The main photo is of me from more than 10 years ago wearing that same boonie hat at a five-day meditation retreat for veterans with PTSD at Omega Institute in New York.
I was supposed to delete the obit until sometime after I died. (Yeah, read that line again!) One of your loved ones is supposed to have written the material and published it upon your death. I just got a jump on it. I wanted my son to have it when I enter the Tibetan Buddhist Bardo to begin my next reincarnation.
I felt like William Bendix from the Life of Riley with his quote: “What a revoltin’ development this is!”