We escaped last weekend to Missoula, Mont. We stopped somewhere in Idaho for coffee. The Oct. 17 edition of the Idaho County Free Press was open on the counter to this amazing obituary.
"SONIA TODD, 38
"My name is Sonia Todd and I died of cancer at the age of 38. I decided to write my own obituary because they are usually written in ways I just don't care for. Either family or friends gather together and list every minor accomplishment from cradle to grave, or they create one poetic last stanza ... so glowing one would think the deceased had been the living embodiment of a deity.
"Let's face it, I never really accomplished anything of note. Other than giving birth to my two wonderful, lovable, witty and amazing sons (James and Jason), marrying my gracious, understanding and precious husband (Brian), and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior, I have done nothing that requires obit space I have to shell out money for.
"I also didn't want my friends sitting around writing glowing reports which we know would be filled with fish tales, half-truths, impossible scenarios, and outright lies.
"I just tried to do the best I could. Sometimes I succeeded, most of the time I failed, but I tried. For all my crazy comments, jokes, and complaints, I really did love people.
"... My life was not perfect ... I would totally scrap ages 16-20. Okay, 14-22. I think that would eradicate most of my fashion disasters and hair missteps from the 80s. But mostly, I enjoyed life.
"Besides, there are some benefits to dying youngish: I still owe on my student loans; the joke's on them ...I'm not paying.
"Some folks told me that writing my own obituary was morbid, but I get to thank the people who helped me along the way. I was blessed beyond measure by knowing all of you. That is what made my life worthwhile.
"If you think of me and would like to do something in my memory, volunteer at a school, church, or library, take kids out for ice cream and talk to them about their dreams, forgive someone who doesn't deserve it. "
After four days of hiking in the mountains around Missoula and nights visiting friends, it's still, primarily, this obituary with its originality, truthfulness, lucidity, humor, concern for others and ideal of forgiveness that remains the greatest boon from our trip.