Have you written your obituary yet?

When you get into the 80s, you start thinking about those things, I guess.

Personally, I find some of the most interesting reading in the newspapers is hidden within the various obits. Different papers call them different things, but they are all at least semi-biographic and always intriguing, if you read enough of them.

I begin my morning with a bowl of cereal and the local obits. The old joke goes that if I don’t find my name there, I know I am good for another day.

And that’s really not so funny a joke.

The reading puts me in touch with who among us is no longer among us. And who requires some prayer and sympathy.

Sometimes you can tell who the really important people are by the length of their obituaries.

Or sometimes, you simply learn who were so beloved that their entire lives need to be described in print.

Back in the dark ages, news reporters used to write all the obits, from information sent by the local funeral homes. They were free to all, which I always thought was nice. One good thing the paper could do for the dear departed.

But with the need for more funds, apparently, the paper started charging, the obits became the purview of the classified advertising department and the people who submitted them were guaranteed the obits would appear exactly as the customers had written them.

Which was usually a mistake. Reporters were able to write better than both your average grieving relative or your average undertaker.

I wrote good obituaries. I even wrote one for the deceased second wife of my late ex-husband, which I considered above and beyond the call of duty. And still do.

The obituaries in this newspaper are all pretty mundane, but one recent one about a retired local policeman noted, among several accomplishments, that he played with a local team, El Mocambo Bluebirds. It said he loved football and baseball but doesn’t say which sport the Bluebirds played.

The Houston Chronicle calls its obituary section Life Tributes and the layout of the obituaries is pretty neat.

Here’s one on a gentleman who joined the family businesses Texas Ice and Fuel and Midget Markets. He continued his career with UTotM and Circle K.

Here’s a Clear Lake man with degrees in Science Ornamental Horticulture Technology-Maintenance and Construction Specialization. His obit said he utilized his education as the contracts administrator in the management and implementation of the interior and exterior landscaping projects and contracts at the Orlando International Airport. How about that?

Here’s a dentist from Pearland who retired after 25 years of service as a colonel in the Dental Corps.

I highly recommend for your reading pleasure the obituaries of any available newspapers.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at cgillentine1@sbcglobal.net.

(3) comments

Iris M Crow

I appreciate your thoughts on this subject, Cathy. I also have been reading obits. They reveal a lot about the the person. I read the obituary of a dear friend and learned many things about her life that I never knew. She lived life to it’s fullest. She’s an inspiration to me more than before. I appreciate when people take their time and money to tell things about their loved one that very few knew. The obits are very informative and enlightening.

Carlos Ponce

So sad to hear of a departed friend months or years after death whose family could not afford to have it in the local paper. But the family did post it on Facebook. But not everybody uses Facebook nor checks every acquaintance who posts.

Jarvis Buckley

Agree with you completely ms. Cathy.
Obits are worthwhile reading. Lots of folks in the Great Generation passing this time of the year.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.