With my dad's recent passing, and having made several (unrelated, except for my mood) recent visits to Chicago cemeteries, I've been thinking about epitaphs. Webster's defines epitaph as "1. an inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there. 2.: a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past."
Most of what's carved on graveyard monuments is pretty simple: names, dates, and relationships. Beyond that, most of the common people buy at most a brief fragment of a sentiment. In Catholic cemeteries, I've seen a lot of "My Jesus Mercy." On my dad's parents' grave, In largely Scandinavian-American (and Lutheran) ground, the message is "Christ My Hope."
But except for the expense involved--I think we're paying $150 to have "2012" carved on my dad's headstone--I think a secular message might be reflect more the concerns of today's future deceased Americans. I'm thinking of phrases that reflect the preoccupations of most of us for most of our waking life: Phrases like:
Has anyone seen my keys?
Do you mind getting me another beer?
It's time to get up already?
Turn here. No--here!
Have change for a 20?
Hey--there's no toilet paper in here!
Sorry I'm late--traffic was terrible!
I meant to get in touch.
Don't blame me.
What time is it?
Yeah--I'll send that check tomorrow.
Later--we'll discuss it later.