August 2017 ttimes web magazine

Page 11


by Helen Chappell If I check the obituaries in the local paper and I don’t see my name there, I figure I’m still alive, and maybe it will be a good day ~ or maybe not. Around here, obituaries are known as the Eastern Shore Sweepstakes, so I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way. A lot of people I know take a local paper just because it has the obits and school sports. I always like to see how many people my age have died. Not that it makes me feel better, but it means I have won the Sweepstakes for that day. Reading about the death of a young person is sad ~ the deaths of babies and children are heartbreaking. These days, obituaries are short and sweet, because anything over 200 words costs money. When I worked for a local paper, I was fascinated to find any old fool with a grudge can’t just send in an obit. They have to come directly from the funeral home, on their letterhead, and even then, whoever does that page has to call and confirm. This probably cuts down on a great deal of foolishness, not to mention lawsuits. The trolls, like the poor, have been with us always. In my career, I’ve been asked to

write obituaries for other people, both perfect strangers and friends. I’ve been told funeral homes hate writing obits, so they’re happy to have something presented to them, already fact checked. If the obituary writer is wrong about something, it’s on their head, not the funeral home’s. So I write obits from time to time. I’ve even written my own obit. It’s like doing an interview, only with more dates and less fact checking. Since the first one I wrote, many years ago for a perfect stranger whose husband was an admirer of my writing, I’ve charged for strangers so people won’t get any funny ideas that I’m a public service. 9