Oh, the interesting things we publish

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2011

It was my friend Mary Helen who got me started clipping and filing funny things I read in the newspaper. She has this wonderful box of articles that make for delightful reading, especially aloud, in a group, when wine is being served.

There are the pompous wedding write-ups.

Circa 1972: “The couple received so many useful and nice gifts, a U-Haul-It truck was required to take them back to Atlanta.”

And birth announcements of children whose parents …. well, they just weren’t thinking.

Circa early 1990s: “LaPrecious LaMiracle.” I kid you not. And while I have no doubt the baby girl born prematurely was a precious miracle, I sincerely hope they shortened that to “LaLa.” For her sake.

And then there are the bizarre and unusual stories, like the one from the 1980s about a wheel coming off of an 18-wheeler, flying through the front door of a mobile home, and penning a man named Bennie Earl to the proverbial throne.

And so I started my own file, equally as entertaining. Without meaning to, I have focused more on obituaries.

Like the one that listed among the man’s survivors his pets, by name, and “his favorite beach, Navarre.”

And a classic from earlier this year in Brewton, “Wilson Stewart Hudson of Youngstown, Fla., passed away the morning of Fat Tuesday … He died peacefully, surrounded by friends, family, and his dog Bama, after completing a “bucket list” that included honoring his commitments; enjoying bonfires and Budweiser; going fishing with loved ones; being serenaded by long-time family friend Grayson Capps; riding on a Mardi Gras float with the Condi Explorers; visiting Cedar Creek hunting lodge; and being at the West farm with the best good buddies anyone could have.”

A memorial service was planned for him on the banks of the river, the obituary stated, and would be followed by a “celebration, including an official, albeit ironic, ‘You ‘bout as sorry as Wisson Husson’ Budweiser toast.”

Sounds like his friends planned him a great send-off.

About six weeks ago, someone in a nearby town included this in an obituary: “Born … with a low I.Q., which she lived with all her life, but was loved and cared for by her family and friends.”

I thought it a strange thing to print, but she, like Wilson Hudson, obviously was well-loved.

The mother of all great obituaries was forwarded last week. Obviously written by the subject before her demise, it was a beautiful tribute to what must have been a woman with a superb sense of humor.

A native of Tallassee, Ala., the obituary described her hometown as “populated by good-hearted people but with very few fine old families of respectable lineage. Fortunately, (her relatives) were one of the lucky families and enjoyed the benefits of sterling flatware at holidays, relatives represented in the Museum of the Confederacy, and the general satisfaction that comes with knowing who one’s people are.”

Listing her high school accomplishments, the obituary stated wryly, “All of this was achieved while maintaining a 1.8 grade point average.”

And continued, “Accepted to the University of Montevallo (the alma mater of both grandmothers), she enrolled for two semesters and actually attended class for one.”

How many of us want our obituaries to be that honest?

With more tongue-in-cheek pokes at her Southern heritage, the obituary recounted her years in the north, and said, “Sadly, she stopped making homemade mayonnaise and began to put dark meat in her chicken salad, but she did remember how to set a table.”

I laughed for an entire week. And I also wondered if I should stopped collecting obituaries, and begin making a few notes for my own. Just in case.