Posts Tagged ‘ passed away ’

Crowdsourcing My Own Biography

I have a favor to ask of you.  I want you to write something about me.  It could be anything — a memory of me, an experience weImage shared together, a relationship we have had and maintained, a relationship we had and left off, a first impression you remember about me, an overall impression of me that you have…it can be anything.  It can be good, bad, or indifferent.  I want it to be anything that you think my family, friends, or the rest of the world would want to know about me.  

Here’s the thing:  I will never know what you write.  

Every single thing that you write will be sent to a third party who is sworn to keep it sealed and locked away until my death.  Let me give you a bit of the backstory.

Since high school, my dear friend @thehandsomeweasel and I have looked ahead excitedly in anticipation of what our futures might hold.  You know — all of those “firsts” that you just can’t wait to experience, some of the “firsts” you never wanted…we approached everything new as an adventure, really livin’. However, for all of the late night political and philosophical discussions we’ve had, we are still both keenly aware of the fact that, at some point, both of our lives will come to an end.  

I have been an avid journaler for nearly 17 years now (as this link will further explain), and Weasel and I arrived at an agreement one day over beers, at least a decade ago:  If I kick the bucket first, all of my journals will be sent to him, at which point he’ll go through them, pick out some of the passages I’ve written that are really characteristic of “me,” and put them together in a book of some kind, to be given to family and friends who would want to learn a little something about me they maybe didn’t know before.  I hope to provide guidance (or cautionary tales) to my own sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, even after I’m gone.  Afterward, my tomes will be sent back to my wife, who I hope will keep them in good stead.  If Weasel pushes up daisies first, I’ll be happy to perform that same service for him, should he request it of me.  

Some whom I’ve mentioned this idea to have asked with a smirk, “What makes you so sure your wife won’t go first?”  I usually reply by mentioning that my grandparents all lived to between 67 and 77, if memory serves me, whereas Alli’s family has longevity on their side.  Her grandmother passed away a couple of months ago at 93 (I think), and her grandfather is still around and kicking at 95.  I’m fairly certain that, unfortunately, she’s going to have some time to herself.  

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The Life And Times Of Gufferson Q Grana

The entire point of this exercise is to take all of the (probably thousands by now) of pages that I’ve written and will write, and distill my life on paper down into something a little more palatable for everyone I care about to read when I’m gone.  It sounds morbid, but it’s not. I want to be remembered for something significant to those I love just like anyone else, and I figure that my journals will do that for my wife and kids (if we have any), as well as for family and friends.  (I wish my Dad had been even an “armchair” writer…there was so much locked in his head that he took with him when he passed away that I’d give anything to hear him talk about now.)  And you are about to contribute to that goal in a really meaningful way.  

So please, do this for me.  Right now.  Take a second to try and remember what you know about me.  What you like(d) about me, what you don’t (or didn’t) like, something great I did, something sh*tty I did, something I did or said to affect you…it doesn’t matter to me, I just want it to be true and authentic so that all of you who survive me in the future can look back and really get a clear picture of who I was at various stages of my life.  Once you do this for me now, you’ll send it to my friend Weasel at kevinrmarten@gmail.com (that’s Kevin R Marten @ gmail.comdon’t forget the middle R).  He will take what you send him and sock it away for later compilation.  Also, don’t forget to include your name, your relationship to me, when you knew me, how old we were when we experienced whatever you are sending him, etc.  Details like those will help make it so that you will have real ownership in the shaping of whatever my legacy turns out to be, as those details will be included in the final compilation of my biography.  When you shoot the email, be sure to put “Project SunshineBoy” in the title line, and he will know that you are sending him something related to this project.  (SunshineBoy was a nickname my Dad gave me when I was a kid, supposedly because I smiled all the time.)  Remember, I’ll never read what you write, so don’t be shy.

Also, don’t be shy about this project of mine, either.  Share this on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and whatever else is out there now.  Forward this post on to anyone you know who knows (or knew) me.  The more help I get from you, the more fulfilling it will be to read in the future, long after you’ve forgotten you did it.  It’s free, takes only a couple of minutes of your time, and really could turn out to be something wonderful because of your participation.  

Thanks in advance, and have a great week!!

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A Hole In The Workforce

Last Sunday, I was at work, and found out that one of our Quality Control inspectors (or QCs)–a guy I had met only two or three times–had been killed on his motorcycle that day. Apparently, a truck pulled out in front of him, and he had nowhere else to go but in. Needless to say, it stopped much work production for the rest of the day, and the mood in the hangar on Monday was somber as well.

When a workforce loses one of their own, it’s a wretched thing that brings mortality to the forefront, and forces us all to question why we are really spending our time there, anyway. As we were standing around, sharing stories about the guy who had passed–he was juuuust shy of retiring, and was building a place in Maryland somewhere–someone brought up the funeral processions of a black man who had passed several years before, and was recounting how different it was than he’d ever seen. He said that for the “Viewing” (or “Wake,” as many of us know it), the people were free to come and pay their respects, but the immediate family was not present for it at all.

This is very different than the way folks in the Catholic Church do it, I can tell you from experience. My heritage extends into Italy for generations, to give you a clear idea of where I’m coming from. When my Dad passed, there was a Wake, and during that wake, it was the first our family got to see of Him after he passed. Our family had private time to pay our respects, and throughout the course of a few hours, everyone who wanted to come and pay their respects to Dad came and went. It was tumultuous for my family, but it was an opportunity for anyone who knew my Dad to come and honor him in the Afterlife, and it gave my family (me included) a bit of closure.

The next day would have been the funeral, except that Dad had been cremated. All of my other family members–grandparents, uncles, cousins–have been buried, and after each service, we would go to a little Italian place nearby, and have an extensive and exhaustive brunch-type-meal, complete with coffee before and Grapa during and after.

Realizing that many cultures do things differently, I am fascinated–what does your family do when a member of your family dies? Of course, many different cultures treat the burial process differently, for different reasons. I am forever a student of the rest of this planet, and I am interested to hear how your family treats the recently deceased.

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