What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

Sep 23, 2009 | 0 comments

Today’s Dear Abby column has a great letter from a woman who discovered her father had an affair with the woman who was her husband’s mother. It turns out her husband was also her half-brother. Shortly after learning this news, the husband had a heart attack and died.

Her dilemma: what to put on his gravestone? She thought “Loving Brother” or “Loving Husband” were her choices. Dear Abby suggested “He was ‘Everything’ to me,” saying that should about cover it.

We’ve been having some discussion of memorial markers in our family recently. My father-in-law Norm died and was buried in April, but we have not yet put a permanent marker on his grave. Jewish tradition dictates waiting a year and even up to 18 months from time of burial to have a marker installed. When the permanent memorial is in place, a short ceremony called an unveiling is held.

My mother-in-law Myra wanted to have Norm’s marker inscribed with “Loving Husband and Father,” which is an apt description. If you’ve spent any time looking at memorial markers in cemeteries as I have, you’ll know that it’s also a pretty common inscription.

But Norm was a special person who treated people and animals with kindness and consideration. When Norm graduated, his father wrote an inspirational note to his son in an autograph book. This book was framed, open to this inscription, and Norm kept it displayed in his office as a constant reminder of right conduct.

These words of wisdom were “Be good to yourself, and be good to humanity.”

Guess what we’re going to put on his tombstone… a bit of advice to help us along in this world.

A Good Goodbye