February 25, 2010

My Obituary

Last night I started reading a new book - I'm only 17 pages into it but I can tell already I'm going to love it!  It's called The Dead Beat (actually, it's called This Publication, proudly set forth under the title of The Dead Beat, will gratify the reader with a survey both humoruous and poignant of the wonders enfolded in the pages of an ordinary newspaper, and including many marvelous tales relating to Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, as witnessed and faithfully recorded by Marilyn Johnson) and, as you can tell from the rather lengthy title, it's about reading, writing and collecting obituaries.

Maybe I started reading this particular book because I miss talking to my funeral home buddies every day (hi to Chris at Werner-Harmsen, Janet at Uecker-Witt, Rhonda at Kohl's & Randolph, Jana at Twohig, etc.) - I used to call them with the obituary prices at my job at The Reporter.  Part of my job was to measure the obits every day and bill the respective funeral homes.  Because I had to measure the obits, I would also read them.

After a while, you become aware of patterns in obits.  April and Ruth, the obit clerks for The Reporter, have a set way of writing them, but there are little clues as to how the family feels about the deceased.  Some have a little humor infused in them; others may have been written by the deceased themselves.  Some are very short and to the point; whether for the sake of saving money (the obits at our local paper run $1 per line) or because the deceased wasn't particularly favored usually remains unknown.  I personally love the obits that take up half a page.  We have a convent here in Fond du Lac and those sisters are verbose!  Every time a nun dies, expect at least a 3-column obit.  Yes, most of them spent their lives in community service, but I'm surprised that the church would pay for such a long memoriam!

Because I spent nearly five years reading the obits on a daily basis (and now that I'm home, I've kept up the habit), of course my thoughts occasionally turn to how my own obit will read.  One can't help but wonder how he or she will be remembered; I think it's just human nature.  I know one thing - I will write it before I die so that my family won't have to do it for me.  That's a lot to ask in a time like that!

Oh, what the heck - why don't I write it right now!  I'm just writing my blog so I'm making this up as I go.  But (nearly) everything in it will be true, so you may learn some things about the Melster you didn't know.  Here goes:

Melissa Mary Jones Bushner Kolstad, of Toronto, ON (I WISH!), formerly of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was born on October 7, 1968 and passed away on August 16, 2069 saving a busload of children from a fiery wreck off the Pacific Coast (okay, so that part's probably not true - not too many 100 year-old women have the strength to save a busload of kids.  But I'm in the fortunate position to make up how I die, so why not go out with a flourish?).  She posthumously received the Medal of Honor from President Zutter, her own grandniece (hey, why not?).
Ms. Kolstad was born in Reno, Nevada to the late Robert E. and Suzanne Jones (yes, my dad died already but I'm just assuming my mom won't live to be 123!) and grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  She was a 1986 graduate of Ashwaubenon High School and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1991.  Shortly thereafter, in 1992, she married her first husband, Daniel Bushner.  They were married until 2003 (that sounds better than "they got divorced", doesn't it?).  In 2006, she married Brian Kolstad and at the time of her passing celebrated 63 years of wedded bliss.  The had no children, but raised 17 mutts in their lifetime (okay, this hasn't happened yet either, but I'm trying to butter Brian up for a doggie).  :)
Ms. Kolstad held several positions in her lifetime, ranging from: Production Assistant at two separate television stations to finance jobs at two separate newspapers (now online "newsfeeds" - hey, it's 2069), to membership director for the local association for home builders, to bookseller (now e-bookseller, hey, it's 2069) at Waldenbooks.  But her favorite vocation was also her passion, and a position she held the longest - artist.  Ms. Kolstad was a world reknown collage artist and held many shows around the world (okay, this isn't true either, but it could happen!).
Surviving Ms. Kolstad are her wonderful husband and soulmate of 63 years, Brian; her sister (and best friend!) and brother in-law, Jennifer and Michael Zutter, of Sun Prairie; her two beautiful nieces, Natalie and Mia, of Paris and London, respectively (knowing those girls, they will live very exciting lives!) and the aforementioned grandniece, President Graysa Zutter ("Graysa" was a name my nieces gave one of their stuffed animals).  She is further survived by a brother and sister in-law, Richard and Kristin Kolstad of Fond du Lac, and their two wonderful children Joshua and Sydney, of Stockholm and Los Angeles, respectively (again, these two will go far). 
Visitation will be on Tuesday, August 20 (yes, that's the real date for that year - I looked it up!) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accomodate all of the visitors who may be traveling from great distances to pay their last respects.  In lieu of flowers, just send cash (tee hee).

So, what do you think?  I like it.  If that's how I go out, I think that would be a lovely way to go.  And who knows?  Maybe my grandniece WILL be president!

So that gives me about 59 years left.  That's not too shabby.  I'd better go and start working on becoming a world-reknown collage artist.  :D


  1. And when you're a world-reknowned collage artist, you'll get an obit in the Yahoo!Times (or is that the Times of Yahoo?), esp. if you're the honored great-aunt of the president :D I've read a lot of 19th & early 20th century obits which are also fascinating. Have you seen the WaPo obituary dept's blog? http://blog.washingtonpost.com/postmortem/

  2. How funny is it going to sound, to be immortalized by Yahoo (or it that a yahoo? Remains to be seen). :D

    Thanks for the link - being an obits junky, this is right up my alley! :D

  3. The New York Times reported that indeed, her notoriety grew with the news of her passing. Her ATCs and other small pieces will be auctioned at Christie's, with the proceeds going to her memorial library fund.

    The head of the National ATC Guild, Ima Card, had this to say. "Mel leaves shoes none of us can fill. Her legacy will live long past her short stay on this earth. (Sniff) Will there be an estate sale?"

  4. A ha ha ha ha! :D Ima, good news - there will definitely be an estate sale. Either that, or Brian will have to rent a forklift and haul all of the art supplies out himself. :D

    Oh, to have my own memorial library fund....that's a great idea! :D