WHAT AN EPITAPH SAYS

I regularly watch episodes of The Twilight Zone, and The Alfred Hitchock Hour–in fact these are the only television shows I watch that are not documentaries.  I love both, not just because I love science fiction/fantasy and mystery, but also because I love plot twists!  And both shows usually have them!

The other night I watched an episode of The Twilight Zone, entitled, A Piano in the House (1961).  It’s one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen.  And this episode featured an actress name Joan Hackett.  I found her ravishing (not to mention talented)–and I did a photo search to see more of her. 

While searching, I came across a photograph of her gravestone.  This had happened before, and I would have ignored it–except that it had quite a unique and delightful epitaph. 

An epitaph can say alot about the person buried beneath it.  The motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said he’d like his epitaph to read: He Wouldn’t Quit.  This could be amusingly misinterpreted, of course–but he explained that it referred to his positive-thinking ideals, specifically his practice of continuing to get up after being knocked down.  Still, his epitaph would be quite serious, as most of them are. 

My burial plot is amidst those of my parents and brother.  It is next to that of my brother, Mike, who died in 1989.  Because Mike was a musical genius (he was attending Yale, studying to get his masters in music when he died), his epitaph reads: Music Is Eternal.  Quite appropriate for him (had he lived, he would probably be very well known in the realm of classical, particularly sacred music today).  I plan for mine to read: God Is Unlimited.  I think that would be quite appropriate, not for me as a person but for my spiritual beliefs.  Mike’s epitaph and my hypothetical one are both serious too.

Still, some epitaphs are not serious, but hilarious!  And these say more about the person perhaps, than the serious ones.  There is an old joke-epitaph: Here lies the body of Mike O’Day, who died maintaining his right of way; his right was sound, his will was strong, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong!  To my knowledge, this was never used for a real person–but some are.  And such is the case for Joan Hackett.

Her epitaph reads: Go Away–I’m Asleep.  And though I’m not completely certain it was her idea, or even that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, I’m reasonably certain of both.  And if I’m correct, this woman must have been an admirable person, to say the least!  She maintained a sense of humor, even in the face of death–thus was more courageous than most of us could ever be!

 

12 Responses to “WHAT AN EPITAPH SAYS”


  1. 1 iamheatherjo May 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I’ve got this all solved for myself already…I’m not going to be buried so no epitaph needed. 😀

  2. 3 theduffboy May 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    If it were up to me, I’d take iamheatherjo’s choice and be cremated. I guess I should start thinking about these arrangements, right?

    • 4 solosocial May 6, 2011 at 12:24 am

      No, you have too much life left here! I just have everything all set up for me, by my parents–they’ve always been big planners, planning for everything. And it’s sad, because in their excessive planning for the future, they’ve missed alot of the present!
      Still, even if they didn’t have everything planned for my death, I wouldn’t make any arrangements for it. After all, it makes no difference what is done with one’s body after death–whether the spirit lives on or doesn’t, a dead body is just a shell!

      • 5 JD July 14, 2012 at 6:29 pm

        “After all, it makes no difference what is done with one’s body after death–whether the spirit lives on or doesn’t, a dead body is just a shell!”

        It matters to those we leave behind. Funerals and graves markers are never for the dead, who do not need them. They are for the living who need the comfort of ritual to deal with grief, and tangible reminders to connect with the departed and to heal and celebrate the lives of those who have gone before them.

      • 6 solosocial July 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm

        Quite true.

        In making that statement, I was referring to the dead themselves, not to the living.

  3. 7 Abby May 8, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I also plan to be cremated. I wonder how I would feel if, like you, I already had a burial plot. Still, I appreciate epitaphs like Joan Hackett’s. Don’t take life… and death… so seriously!!

    So sorry about your brother. He sounds like an exceptional person – died too young.

  4. 9 JD July 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    The epitaph was her idea. By all accounts she *loved* to sleep. And she did maintain her sense of humor in the face of a long, painful death from ovarian cancer at the too-young age of 49. Everything I’ve read about her from that period says she dealt with her fate with humor, dignity and grace. She accepted her last acting award in a wheelchair, and she checked herself out of the hospital to host the long-planned wedding of her friends Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon at her home, because she wanted to keep her commitments and spend time with those she loved as long as she could. In addition to being a fine dramatic actress and beautiful woman, she was extremely funny. Check her out in the underrated “Support Your Local Sheriff” opposite James Garner in a physical comedy performance to rival Lucille Ball. For maybe her best dramatic work, try “Will Penny” starring Hackett and Charlton Heston.

  5. 11 Doug Burton May 1, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Here’s another true epitaph:

    “Let your wind go free, where ere ye be
    For holding it in was the death of me”


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