Words from the Grave(stone)

19 Feb

Sometimes we think that a person’s last words are what they say. Actually, sometimes, it’s the words on their tombstones!

Mel Blank's TombstoneI (Dawn) laugh at comedian and voice actor Mel Blanc’s “That’s All Folks,” a much funnier closing line than author and poet Edgar Allan Poe’s “Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore'” ~ although that makes me smile, too.

Singing legend Francis Albert (“Frank”) Sinatra’s gravestone says, “The Best Is Yet to Come.”

Filmmaker, screenwriter, and producr Billy Wilder’s headstone says, “I’m a Writer, but then Nobody’s Perfect.”

Comedic actor Rodney Dangerfield’s last line is predictable: “There Goes the Neighorhood!”

Hollywood’s  Jack Lemmon couldn’t resist one final marquee with “Jack Lemmon in …”

The gravestone for talkshow host and media mogul Merv Griffin says simply, “I will not be right back after this  Merv Griffin's Tombstonemessage.”

My favorite actor message from the grave, however, is the one by actor Ed (Keenan) Wynn, who was the voice of the Mad Hatter in “Alice and Wonderland” and crazy Uncle Albert in “Mary Poppins.” In spite of all his success, including a Broadway career under the tutelage of the renowned W.C. Fields, Wynn understood who was really responsible for his success. His grave marker bears a prayer ~  “Dear God: Thanks.”

But it’s not just actors who leave parting thoughts, and their words aren’t always so funny.

For example, an epitaph in Thurmont, Maryland, reads, “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.” It’s a grave (pun intended) reminder that those who reject God have no hope beyond this life.

But Leonard Ravenhill, the great English Christian evangelist and author who focused so much time on prayer and revival, ended well. He left a final challenging message on his tombstone. His final words were: “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?” A profound thought.

I started thinking … what would I want to say as my final words to people who might someday stumble over my grave?

A popular humorous epitaph is “I told you I was sick,” found on numerous grave markers.” But I’d want something that at least reflected the purpose of my life, wouldn’t you? For me, maybe, “She wrote about choices, but this is one choice she couldn’t make.” Or something inspiring like, “Choose today who you will serve (Joshua 24:15), because you sure can’t choose once you’re here!”

The best way to think about the day of your death is to live with eternity in mind. What can you do today that counts for eternity ~ something that will outlast your life? Whose life can you touch with the love of God? What truth from God’s Word can you teach to a truth-hungry world?

It’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?


4 Responses to “Words from the Grave(stone)”

  1. Sharon G. February 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    I love your second choice for epitaph…but I intend to be cremated. No grave stone for me.

  2. Dawn Wilson February 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Sharon, just wondering… does a person who is cremated still get to leave a final message? On an urn? On a plaque somewhere? Maybe in a journal to loved ones?

    • Sharon G. February 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      I don’t know for sure. My mother-in-law’s ashes are in a wall at the cemetery…there are boxes in the wall (like post office mail boxes)and that’s where she’s kept. Some people have pictures on the little door to their box (I don’t know what it’s called). I’d actually never seen anything like that before my husband took me there. I’m sure you can have urns engraved.

      Since I’m a writer, I’m sure there will be a message somewhere.

      As far as I’m concerned, though, it can say “She’s finally home”

      • Dave September 15, 2011 at 2:05 am #

        Sharon, those boxes in the wall are called niches. 🙂

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