Too early for boomers to be thinking tombstones?

We boomers aren’t the oldest generation yet, so we guess it’s a little early to be thinking about our tombstones … but retired Evansville, Indiana newspaper columnist Garret Mathews apparently disagrees. That’s why he has told his family what he wants … and what he doesn’t.

Memo to family: Do not hyphenate me.

I’m talking tombstone here.

An old graveyard near Middleburg, Virginia.

An old graveyard near Middleburg, Virginia.

You have permission to take advantage of the early-bird special and buy the slab of rock.

You do not have permission to carve in the year of my birth and leave the rest blank.

There’s enough pressure in my life. I don’t want to take a stroll in the graveyard and see “Mathews” on the stone and beneath it, “1949-.”

Garret Mathews

Garret Mathews

I’d feel like a loose end.

The guy at the monument company waits with chisel in hand to complete the job.

And waits. And waits.

Does he pound in “2043,” or “2048,” or, hopefully, “2063?”

The poor fellow can’t collect full payment on the job until I breathe my last.

The only polite thing would be to go to his office every December and apologize for being alive.

“Look,” I’ll tell him, “I know I’m being a pain for continuing to enjoy good health. Maybe this will be the year my bile duct explodes and you can finish the inscription.”

Understand this, family members. Thinking ahead is one thing. Foreshadowing my demise is quite another.

Hyphenate your own selves. Leave me out of it.

I have nothing against inscriptions, provided they don’t suggest the end game.

Weather-beaten tombstones at Harper's Ferry, WV.

Weather-beaten tombstones at Harper’s Ferry, WV.

So I submit the following for your approval: “Here lies our beloved father and husband. He liked children, dogs, and the way Angelina Jolie looked in ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’.”


“Now you can turn the thermostat up.”


“Here lies the mortal remains of Mathews. He was born in 1949 and we have absolutely no idea when he is going to die.”


“Give these bare bones a place to rest.
“Never mind that he lacked a crest.
“About one thing he was a holy terror.
“He hated to make a grammatical error.”


“The typist buried here lived simply.
“There’s little he would have amended.
“So, in death, we grant one last wish, that his tombstone not be open-ended.”

Garret’s book —


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