On Writing Your Epitaphby Diana DeLugan
No, I’m not trying to be morbid. But let’s get real: we are all going to die one day. When the time comes – and that is one of the few things in life that comes guaranteed – how will you be remembered?
I have a fair collection of 19th and 20th century United States history books. Some are small, others robust. A handful of historical characters make mandatory appearances within the yellowing pages of each book. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt always have chapters. Of course, inventors, adventurers, and lesser-known politicians are referenced from time to time. But what about the countless millions who worked, loved, and died during the same periods as those icons who garner valuable print space in our history books? Faces and names that once mattered have faded away from our collective memories. Who were they?
If you don’t want to be forgotten in the passage of time; realize that your words, actions, and deeds constantly inscribe your personal epitaph.
What will your epitaph say? Will you be remembered for your morning ritual, as you moved lockstep to the rhythm of your daily routine? Were you compelled to push people and events aside, just to make sure you didn’t miss the final episode of this season’s Grey’s Anatomy?
Does it really matter what others think of you? No.
My great-grandmother used to say (translated from Spanish and paraphrased):
If others don’t put the food on your table, the clothes on your back, or the roof over your head, who cares what they think? The only thing that matters is: What do you think?
You are deliciously individual. The way you comb your hair, the way you laugh, they become you. Celebrate your uniqueness. Whether you are a writer, a parent, work in the back file room of some nondescript glass, cold-steeled towering structure, or sweat through the graveyard shift at the local fast food drive-thru, make sure that you act with purpose. Be honest with yourself. Each day, endeavor to make decisions that further your goal of being a better you.
You Are a Writer
Metaphorically, we are all writers. We slowly inscribe our respective epitaphs with each passing day. Be a kind scrivener. Remember that you, like all humans, have flaws. That’s OK. Like any good scribe, you can always erase what you previously wrote and start again. Mistakes can be wonderful if we learn from them.
As long as you are authentic and live with purpose, someone is certain to remember you.
Diana DeLugan, J.D., is the author of two books, as well as an historian, researcher, speaker, and singer. Her book Haunted Otero: Ghost Tales from the American Southwest is available on Amazon.com in print and ebook formats. The Otero Arizona Land Grant Documentary, limited edition, is available at bookstores in Tubac, Arizona. The mass market edition of the book will be available in winter 2014. Diana blogs each Sunday at OurArizonaHistory.com and here on the 20th of every month. Her next book is a guide on conducting Arizona family history research. For more information visit her website, subscribe to her YouTube channel, friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or add her to your circles on Google+. Reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.