Monday, March 15, 2010

On visual epitaphs...

HALLIE: Quite awhile back I noticed an obituary in the paper for Victor Bonomo. Instead of a picture of Mr. B, alongside the obituary they ran a picture of a package of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy. How great, I thought, to have a piece of candy as your epitaph.

From there I free associated to items that could run beside the obits of other famous people. Lance - a bike. Fidel - a cigar. Bill Clinton - also a cigar. Hillary - a headband. Michael Jackson - of course the glove. Barbara Bush - her pearls. Madeline Albright - one of her fabled pins. And so on.

When I go, a green glass swan that figures prominently in Never Tell a Lie (and I just bought one on eBay) would be nice. Or a platter of fried chicken.

What visual epitaphs do you imagine for yourself and others?

RHYS: For me--a tiara would be kind of fun. I'd like something that would make people smile and not be sad. A plate of oysters would be too strange, although oysters, lobster and all seafood are definitely my favorites.

HANK: OH, gosh. I started think of funny things--a bottle of champagne? Some wonderful shoes? Both lovely, but is that what I'd want in my Bonomo spot? And then I thought, okay. I'll be serious. A typewriter? But no one uses those anymore. A mirror? A venti latte? No comment. A television? Well, I don't want to be defined by that, when it comes to the end. And the tv would either have to be off, which is spooky. or on, which is, sometimes, even spookier. Maybe--a ream of blank paper. And a pencil.

Hallie, why fried chicken, for goodness sake? Or--is 'goodness sake' why?

HALLIE: Love to eat it. Love to cook it. Guilty pleasure!

JAN: I had a really hard time with this one, too, Hank. At first I thought an old typewriter which was on the cover of Final Copy, my first book, and symbolized the reporter, but the truth is, I never used a typewriter after my very first job and never a manual one. I thought about a reporters notebook for a while, but now I just bring my laptop with me to interviews.

This morning it came to me in a flash, before I even got out of bed. Whenever I need to take a break from writing (okay, I'm procrastinating), I pick up my guitar. Lately, my trusty friend, Amber, who follows me everywhere (to and from the bathroom, when I get up for coffee..) and sleeps beside me when I write has mistaken my guitar case for her dog bed. I figure this sums up everything. My writing, my procrastinating, my music, and my canine best friend.

ROBERTA: This is hard. Maybe just a little stack of the books I've written. But that's a little boring...picture with family and pets? Too conventional. For a while it might have been a tennis racket, then on to a set of golf clubs...but now, who wants a pilates fitness circle as an epitaph? I think I better get going on another distinctive hobby...and meantime, if this comes up and I sure hope not, I'll go with the books:).

ROSEMARY: I think every decade it would have been something different and we're not far enough in to this one for me to answer. In the past it might have been a passport, a bottle of champagne, an ice bucket filled with white peonies.

HALLIE: White peonies! How lovely.

Interesting. Flowers. Food. Music. The blank age All things that inspire us.

So what's your visual epitaph?

12 comments:

Rhys Bowen said...

Having had more time to think of this, I define myself not only as a writer but as a mother/grandmother and friend--so my hiking stick for all the years I've hiked with my friends and apple crumble, which I have to cook at every family gathering

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, Rhys, that's lovely.

And I'm wondering if there's a way we can all get the white peonies NOW. My favorite. No, white tulips. Oh, I can't decide.

Anyone's tulips showing yet? We have the tiniest shoots...

Sheila Deeth said...

Fascinating post. You've got me thinking anyway.

Rosemary Harris said...

Mary Chapin Carpenter has a song about a shirt that's been with her through all sorts of experiences...Jan do you know that one?

You may all have some of my peonies...can't wait for them to bloom!

MaxWriter said...

Great topic. I was thinking a garden trowel in one hand and an oven mitt on the other, but then, where would the hands come from? Gardening and cooking have been constants in my life since high school, and they feed my family, which is right up there in importance with writing. Oh, yes, and a passport! (Aptly, I'm off to Morocco on Thursday for 2 weeks. With my Hank tote.)

Our tulip shoots are several inches high, yay.

Edith

Sheila Connolly said...

This may sound weird, but since I'm a lifelong genealogist, I'd want a tombstone. An old one--and a caption something like "Sheila has finally joined all those ancestors she's been chasing for so long."

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Edith, fantastic. Have a wonderful time, and I'm very happy the Hank tote is becong a world-traveler, too.

Huge rain here..huge! (Hope all of you are okay..RO, did you get your power back?) And today it's sunny, so I'm thinking the flowers will shoot up..

Rosemary Harris said...

Still no power in my part of CT..can't go home :-( maybe tmw.
Off on the road to Morocco! How exciting, I'd love to hear all about it when you get back. Maybe we should start a virtual vacation day on JR.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Great idea, RO! Like on Mickey Mouse Club, we'll have an Adventure day.

Maybe--post photos from past vacations? And then share our experiences.

In fact--in honor of Edith--watch this space on Monday! (Okay, not exactly this space, but the FRONT space. You know what I mean.)

Or maybe we should do Bing Crosby Bob Hope movies..just like Webster's Dictonary, we're Morocco bound!

nancy m said...

I'd like a tombstone, but instead of an angel on top, maybe a cupcake. Just saying.

We plant peonies on everyone's grave in my family. Along with hosta, Siberian iris and lamb's ear. Makes a nice display that lasts from May until September. Somebody always deadheads the peonies when we're not looking, though.

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Sheila:
How about "Welcome home" or "Now you're one of us" or "We've been waiting."
For me it would have to be something book/reading oriented because reading stories are my passion. A bookcase with one last spot? I guess if it were a tombstone it could say "The End"

Diane said...

I'm with PK the Bookiemonster. I love books, story telling, documentaries, and the theatre. So, it would have to be an open book with Old English script across the pages. Not sure of the words yet, there a little too close for comfort right now.