I am going to be sixty-one at the end of this month (boo-hoo). I am still a young man but I am now on the downward leg of life's curve and it won't be all that long before I begin the inevitable willy-nilly slide toward the finish line. In light of that fact I have been thinking about my epitaph...again. I used to have a darn good epitaph but I outlasted it. I am an old fan of the Chicago Cubs. When I was younger there were no lights for nighttime baseball at Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs. Sometimes the games would go into extra innings but when the sun went down, the game had to end and the game was "called" on account of darkness. We used to have a saying in Chicago relating to night baseball that denoted a negative sentiment. In my old Chicago neighborhood of Logan Square, for example, people might say “I'll vote Republican when the lights go on at Wrigley field”. In those days that meant “NEVER!”. Times have changed, however, and the lights go on at Wrigley Field these days and so much for that. Nevertheless, many Chicago folks still won't vote Republican no matter if the lights go on or not. In the old “daytime baseball only” days I always wanted my epitaph to be “Game called on account of darkness” but then they went and put up those doggone lights and left me bereft of a suitable epitaph.
Last year when Gina and I went to the Irapuato cemetery to clean off the graves of relatives for the Day of the Dead and leave the traditional marigold-like cempasúchil (sem-pah-SOO-cheel) flowers I wandered around taking note of other people's epitaphs:
“La misma muerte que hoy nos separa, nos reunirá algún día. Hasta entonces, Papá.”
The same death that separates us today will reunite us again someday. Until then, Dad.
“Si una vida de mártir llevaron en la tierra, que una vida de gloria le dé Dios en el cielo.”
“If one lives the life of a martyr on Earth, may God will give them a life of glory in Heaven.”
“Que Dios te dé en el cielo la dicha que en la tierra se te negó.”
May God give you the joy in Heaven that you were denied on Earth.
“Queridos míos, estoy en casa, todo el dolor y sufrimiento han terminado, ahora estoy en paz para siempre, tranquila en casa, en el cielo por fin.”
My dear ones, I am home. All of the pain and suffering has ended. I am now at peace forever, tranquilly at home in Heaven at last.
“Nos dejó por herencia el más preciado tesoro, el recuerdo de sus consejos, la imagen de la bondad y el ejemplo de su vida en la tierra.”
He left us an inheritance of the most precious treasure, the memory of his counsel, the image of his goodness, and the example of his life on Earth.
“Vos nos lo disteis Señor para ser nuestra dicha, vos nos lo pedisteis y os lo damos con corazón destrozado.”
(Note: The above Spanish is that of a Spaniard. A Mexican would say: “Tú nos lo diste Señor para nuestra dicha y Tú nos lo pides y Te lo damos con el corazón detrozado”.)
You gave us life oh Lord for our happiness and You ask for it back and we give it to You with a broken heart.
“Viviste, padeciste, y sufriste con la virtud de un buen cristiano, y con el año viejo te fuiste para gozar el reino de Dios.”
You lived, you endured, and you suffered with the virtue of a good Christian, and bidding farewell to all of your troubles you went to enjoy the fruits of the Kindom of God. (Note: “El año viejo” is a tradition in Latin America where all of the troubles of the old year are bid farewell and burned in effigy. There is no way to translate this epitaph simply and directly word for word.)
Thinking of epitaphs and the Cubs and Chicago politics I started to wonder about the epitaphs that might be suitable for the current crop of U.S. presidential politicians. I put on my thinking cap and came up with the following:
George W. Bush
“A MAVERICK STILL”
“I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM HERE”
“IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE”
“IF SOMEBODY KNOCKS YOU DOWN GET RIGHT BACK UP”
“I SUPPOSE I SHOULD HAVE JUST STAYED HOME AND BAKED COOKIES”
“I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT WOMAN”
I was ruminating on these epitaphs when my wife Gina's little three year old grandson came into the living room and headed for the front door. I said to him, “Oye, amigo, ¿adonde vas?” - “Hey pal, where are you going?”. He drew himself up to his full height, pointed out the door, and with a solemn look on his face and in his best imitation of Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story” he intoned:
“¡A INFINITO Y MÁS ALLÁ!
To infinity and beyond!
That's it!!!! That's my new epitaph! Like they say...“Out of the mouth of babes".
Now all I have to decide is whether it should be in English or in Spanish.
I know! I'll make it bilingual and do both.
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