• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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That Her Face At First Just Ghostly

Some consider it morbid, but the only thing I like writing more than my Oscar acceptance speech is my obituary. My husband has lovingly reminded me that agents don’t generally get eulogized in the NYT, but a girl can dream. I would like my obituary to mention that I devoted my life to writers and books. I’d like it to say that I was punctual.  And of course I would like a handful of books to be mentioned, those that were career defining, those that people truly love. I think I will die in my mid-Eighties from accidentally lighting myself on fire with a cigarette,which I will be smoking in a linen closet at the nursing home.

How will you die and what will your obit say?

42 Responses

  1. I am speechless. To self-prophesizing.

  2. My greatest hope is that I made a difference in people’s lives…in whatever way or form that would take. Sometimes it’s the things we don’t realize we are doing that affect others most. And I hope the people that come forward would be my living obit of the difference I made.

  3. After hearing she would have to go to a nursing home and do the Hokey Pokey and watch Lawrence Welk, she took a swan dive off the Skyway Bridge while listening in ecstasy to Bizet’s Pearl Fishers on her iPod. She lived longer than most would have predicted or even preferred, and married almost anyone who asked. She worked with felons and drunks and crazy people and was never bored.

  4. I will die as God chooses and what my obit will say is anyone’s guess. But I’m not dead yet and it’s not on my list of things to do.

  5. Unless I stop experiencing the early stages of heat exhaustion most weekends (the only down side to compulsive gardening), my goal is to live to see at least 100 candles on my b-day cake. By that time, an obit will be unimportant. There will be more interest in how long I live beyond that milestone.

  6. Ah, well, morbidity must be in the air. I just wrote about an estate sale I went to today, where the dead woman left such heartwrenching clues as to her existence. http://www.letstalkaboutwriting.com/2012/07/dead-peoples-houses.html A museum of an obituary there in her collection of self-improvement items, most still-boxed, uncracked. A fucking Thighmaster, even.

    Being the control freak I am, I’m pretty sure I’ll die of a massive stroke, and my obit? Hm. A boyfriend I had once said the best thing about me was that I was willing. Anything better than that would be a step up.

  7. Surely lightning. I was maybe four the first time I remember it hitting really, really close to me. I thought it was delightful. I still kind of do. I used to point to a place nearby, a hill or whatever, and think, “It’s going to hit there next.” It always did.

    Since then it has hit close to me countless more times, the most recent being last week. I think it’s attracted to me. When it’s super near, I always feel it in my jaw; it makes it ring like a bell. Perhaps I should write a novel and call it The Bell Jaw.

    I’m not sure about the obit, but the gravestone should definitely say, “What are the chances of that!”

    • Mari,

      Pretty damn interesting. I think you won’t die from lightning, but that lightning will make you LIVE.

      Sincerely, Jody

    • Repeated lightning strikes so close mean God loves you so much he wants to take you home. He wants to kiss you and you feel it in your jaw. Watch out, he’s a jealous lover.

      • Thank you Tet and Jody. I love, love, love both of your posts on what that lightning means. For now, I hope Jody is right, at least until I can finish this damn book. After that, I’m not sure I care.

  8. My obit will surely say She never answered her phone and never once arrived on time.

    I just hope the subtext reads Reasonbly Fulfilled Human Being.

    (not an obit but the best has to be Spike Milligan’s: I told you I was sick)

    • And mine will say, She was annoyingly too early for everything, tapping her foot, and she answered most phone calls with long, rambling responses that didn’t make sense.

      I have a list of songs to be played when I expire …. in a file folder. Right next to my advanced directive file. Right next to my will. My obit will also say, If she’d spent less time being so fucking organized, she might have gotten something done.

  9. I’ve let loose my grip on death. My mother was erased by sickness, her mother and my father’s mother before. An aunt or two. It was a given I would die young, or suffer trying not to. Modern technology delivered the news that miraculously, I don’t carry ‘the gene’ (although for a few thousand more the lab can search for something else). My oddballism has finally paid off. I did an actual happy dance when I found out, and for now I just want to bask in it.

  10. Geez, Betsy! No, I have never written my obit. But Tetman’s Monty Python clip made me laugh.

  11. I want to die from taking a fall off the bar on which I was dancing, to the tune “Town Called Malice”, at the party that was being held in my honor to celebrate my achieving a new record for longevity. My obituary will note the greater irony of my having reached my venerable old age as a foul-mouthed, pessimistic, out of shape atheist.

  12. Death- I’m familiar with her work, but not really a fan. Maybe I just don’t get it.

    Fact is, I spend most of my time thinking about living right and well, and very little considering dying. With any luck, though, I’ll sail off one day and not return.

  13. Okay Betsy I’ll play. No Obit though, an article.

    She has disappeared.
    An exhaustive search has turned up nothing. Upon entering her seaside mansion in the Hamptons everything seemed to be in place. All of her blockbuster best sellers remained on the bookshelves in her library as did her Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for literature along with her Oscar for best screenplay she shared with brilliant reclusive writer Betsy Lerner.
    Her BMW sport coup and Escalade were parked in her six car garage along with her red Schwinn and John Deere Gator. No foul play is suspected. She has simply disappeared.
    Known for her humility, in the face of world-wide fame, she will be missed, especially by her daughters who have been quoted as saying they believe she will return someday.
    She was last seen walking on water.

    • Love it! Almost spewed my tea all over the keyboard!

    • My grandpa said about death, “If I don’t like it, I’ll come back.” Haven’t seen him in 30 years.

      • You are lucky, Mike. I live in a house where objects inexplictly waddle across table tops, doors refuse to lock and the perfume my beloved late grandmother wore, an old-fashioned floral scent, often wafts gently through most rooms. To me it’s a comfort, but difficult to explain to company why a framed photo suddenly topples off the mantle or a spoon launches off the counter.

  14. November de Beauvoir died in her sleep, in her garret in Paris, at the age of 98. She was surrounded by piles of manuscrips & published novels that will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s next month, proceeds going to her black cat, Tish. In addition to writing, November did little else. She was known as a mysterious recluse, and wore pens in her hair to keep her bun tidy. She loved vintage capes and velvet scarves, and wore clogs every day of her life. Rumor has it that in a former life she was an expert at starting painless IV’s for the ill. Go figure. Her ashes will be scattered across the Seine at dusk. There will be no calling hours. Au revoir.

  15. Frankly, my dear, I could give a rat’s ass what my obit says. I’m more focused in what I can accomplish while I’m alive. After I draw my last breath I’ll be concerned with the next adventure.

  16. I’m better at one-line epitaphs than obits, but:

    Sarah died Tuesday from a long life lived well.

    She was difficult and irascible, and liked to zip down to the college bars on her scooter, where she would offer to be the designated driver on pub crawls. Her prize possession was the “Mama Cougar” motorcycle helmet that was given to her jointly by the local fraternity chapters for her ninety-third birthday.

    Her survivors include two beautiful daughters, several embarrassed grandchildren, many dear friends, an extensive readership, a few grateful lovers, and an exhilarated agent who is orchestrating a bidding war for the movie rights to her soon-to-be released memoirs, I Hope They Can Find Some Pieces to Bury.

    Despite the title of her last and greatly anticipated book, Sarah will be cremated and her ashes scattered by the CERN Hadron Collider near Geneva. Arrangements for her memorial service are pending, but are promising to be epic.

    All are invited.

  17. One of my favorite blog posts I ever wrote was my obituary. A short excerpt:

    “Sherry excelled at editing, due to her love of pointing out other people’s mistakes. She was indulged by a few and whispered about behind her back by the rest. Those who knew Sherry well said she never met a margarita she didn’t like.

    She is survived by family members who wish to remain anonymous, as well as 213 dogs and cats.

    In lieu of flowers, Sherry requested memorial contributions be made to Hoarders Anonymous or the International Movement to Ban Bad Speling.

    Services will be held at her own bedside on Monday at 2 p.m., since Sherry despised getting out of bed, and nothing pissed her off more than being nudged from a dead sleep before noon.”

    My son told me I have a sick sense of humor and that the post was bad karma. Glad to see I’m in good company here. Betsy–I’ll bring the booze to the nursing home.

    • The only bad margarita is one with too little tequila. And a sick sense of humor is not necessarily a bad thing….

  18. I’ll live to a hundred, or so I’ve been told. This isn’t necessarily a good thing since I’m sure I’ll be bent over, in constant pain, and a grump.
    (Do you wonder who told me?)

  19. MikeD walked a fine line between life and death until July 30 when the ambulance arrived at 10:10am, responding to a call of a very serious paper cut. Paramedics lost control of the patient and the gurney as they were going down the stairs, giggling uncontrollably, possibly due to the thick cloud of cannabis smoke that hung in the air. The patient’s head went through a closet door and, rather than attempt to dislodge him, his rather large nose nose making it nearly impossible to pull him free, although they did try, the patient and door were loaded into the ambulance, but the rescue vehicle’s doors could not close securely due to the large wooden door attached to the patient, so a newly hired EMT swore she would hold onto the gurney, but then she received a text message and as she was responding, the driver swerved to avoid hitting a moose and what happened next remains unclear, but most of the closet door and the gurney were found in a ravine down by the river with no sign of the patient, except for his clothes, so it’s assumed the coyotes ate him and therefore he is no longer alive. Poor MikeD. He would have been 60 in a few more years. Police are dismissing as folly reports of a naked man wearing only a partial door as a collar and strolling down country lanes, whistling a happy tune and asking directions to Mayberry, NC. Those wishing to remember Mr.D can send donations to an offshore account in his name.

  20. Probably would include the fact that “Whiter Shade of Pale” was on my top music picks list.

  21. rea, who has died suddenly in Nowhere, could justifiably be called the last great loser to rise to a surrealist heaven. born in Canada of conservative parentage, she was brought up in a cedar house on the edge of a lake. she excelled at languages and read fluently in three languages by age four, and learned to curse like a sailor.

    she moved to The City of Glass in the 2000’s and was received carefully by the writer community—some say it had more to do with her love of gin tonic as well as her improper sense of dress, than her conscientiousness at grammar. she joined the cafe meetings at betsylerner.wordpress.com and discussed the writing life, word obsessions and youtube videos. sometimes other commenters irritated her, but she tried not take it personally.

    after the outbreak of the publishing war, rea moved to Nowhere and fell in love with Paul Auster, who was in the unlikely service of the Fascist Factory Workers. she persuaded him to leave but later on, she fell in love, again, with Aleksandar Hemon and convinced the two of them to set up house with her, and they lived together as ‘friends’ for two happy years. they say she created a kind of dream world where women were disguised as the sphinx, where the image of the female subverting the male reigned.

    she is survived by two beautiful, extremely well behaved children.

    delicious food prepared by her constant companions, Auster and Hemon, will be served at Cafe Louche and all her exotic items, laid out in an irrational juxtaposition on the top of the bar, are to be shared—all are encouraged to roam and help themselves. a good time is expected.

    • Yes. I think all of our obits should mention our time here at Betsy’s cafe. Those reading will envy our cutting-edge soirees. Or pity us as freaks? I’m not sure…

      • Betsy’s Café, I like that; great name for a book about interesting questions and demented answers.

        I’ll sit by the juke and in-between discussions relating to the humor of exhumation and the joy of coffin love, I’ll do the dishes and I’ll clean the johns just don’t ask me to wait on tables. Oh…I can help write the menu. This place is definitely a wiener kind of palace.

      • I forgot…I’m a great taste tester too.

  22. I’ve had countless workshop classes ask me to write my own Eulogy countless times. And I still don’t know what to say. I enjoy laughter and family. But who doesn’t?

  23. At the nursing home: You will fuck in the linen closet; you will smoke on the back stairs. One of your gentleman friends, Danny the Deranged, will find you in the stairwell one day, attempt coitus, and knock you both ass over fuzzy slippers, to your deaths. Obit head: Elizabeth Lerner, 89, Penned Book Encouraging Writers. Unnamed close friend will be quoted, “Look, she died fucking, and more than once.”

  24. Or maybe, E Lerner, 89, Agent, Writer on Writing, Penned Romantic-Comedy-Sci-Fi-Horror Screenplays with Jewish Twist. that might be the headline.

  25. Only my younger daughter could write it. I am starting to suspect she knows me. “you thought she was kind and good. You thought she gave up half her life to help people. But she watched people she hated go down in flames and drank from the bucket of cool water she held until she had her fill. Then she poured it on the ground. A life lived full to the edges. She tasted everything.”

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