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Kirby: Write your own Obit

Kirby: Write Your Own Obit for Peace of Mind
 Thursday, May 30, 2002

    With Memorial Day wilting in the sun, now seems a good time to practice writing our own obituaries. After all, next Memorial Day it could be us getting the flowers.
    This is not as morbid as it sounds. The obituary section is one of the most popular sections in any newspaper. While part of the reason may be a preoccupation with death, the biggest reason is life.
    If the dead themselves don't care how their lives are remembered, their survivors do. That's why the obituary page is a collection of short stories or biographies.
    Some are longer stories than others, not only because some lives were longer, but also because objectivity is not a requirement when it comes to eulogizing the departed.
    Ever think about how you will be remembered? You may want to start. Not only are you going to die someday, chances are that the task of writing your obit will fall to the family member who likes to write, or in other words the very one you won't want writing about you.
    If you want to write your own obituary, there are a variety of styles to choose from. Just open this paper to the obit section and choose one you like.
    I prefer short, to-the-point obituaries with real information about the departed, as in, "Ralph was a lifelong model train builder, a member of the LDS Franklin-Covey 25th Ward and is survived by his dog, Beano."
    I hate obituaries that read like blatant applications for sainthood: "After long and faithful service to mankind here on Earth, Edward continues his mission for the Lord by carrying the Word of Life to the less-fortunate spirits in . . ."
    If not that, then an obituary that reads like a padded resume: "Janet began her brilliant climb to vice-president in charge of public relations for Whicker, Bartle and Wallace with a stunning election to president of her Second Grade class, after which she became lead hall monitor."
    We won't talk about bad poetry, worse pet names and unconscionable delusions of grandeur such as becoming a bright star somewhere in the universe.
    But then that's just me. Frankly, I don't want to be remembered by someone else's definition of well. I want to be remembered right. That's why I'm writing my own obituary. Obviously, it will need to be fine-tuned. But this is what I got so far:
    Robert Lynn Kirby, 49, died May 30, 2002, in Springville, Utah, of injuries suffered doing something his family told him not to do. Robert was born Feb. 31, 1954, in San Bernardino, Calif., to Robert L. and Eris Felt Kirby. Robert attended various schools while being forcibly dragged throughout the world by his military family. He barely graduated from Skyline High School in 1971. He served in the Utah National Guard for eight years, twice achieving the rank of Specialist 4. He was a former police officer. He was not an Eagle Scout.
    Robert served an LDS mission in 1975 to Uruguay, where he met his future wife, Irene. The couple had three daughters, Christie (Scott) Morgan, Autumn and Virginia, as well as one granddaughter, the beautiful and highly talented Hallie E. Morgan.
    A columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune, Robert loved traveling, "The Simpsons" and provoking the self-important. He hated broccoli, Sunday school and bureaucrats. A funeral service will be conducted at the Spring Creek Stake Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday, after which his ashes will be dumped alongside an undisclosed Utah road.
    How's that? I tried to keep it short. Obituaries are expensive. I figure this one will cost, along with a photograph of me not holding a Pulitzer Prize, about 300 bucks.
    Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby lives in Springville. He welcomes mail at P.O. Box 867, Springville, UT 84110 or e-mail at