Scrivener’s (the writing software I use) dictionary lists the noun definition for “epithet” as, “an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned.”
Just in case you get the same brain cramps I do from certain word confusion, here’s the definition of “epitaph” as a noun, “a phrase or statement written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.”
With those explanations in mind, what’s your one-word-only epithet of self description? Quick, one word! What is it?
Why did you pick that word?
Would the people in your life be surprised by your choice or nod in quiet agreement?
I rather doubt if anyone who knows me would be terribly shocked by my choice of Instigator — “a person who brings about or initiates something.” Yep, that’s what I like to do.
My sister Jackie says that my constant flow of ideas are exhausting as I think of a we should do this or maybe we ought to give that a spin and what do you think if we…. Even though, as the recipient or participant in many of my instigated doings, she’s experienced Italy, Wales, and various smaller scale excitements.
Husband Alex’s feet, so firmly planted in the earth, respond to each of the hurtling statements above with calm, rational thought. He keeps my projects from whirling like a dervish one-into-the-other-right-now. Which explains why only the kitchen table is upside down on the floor while I paint the legs and the four matching chairs are without seats and strewn through the living room while they get the same treatment. See, my office desk — a glorious antique library table — requires a re-do of the top from last year’s project and my almost thirty-year-old dining room set is in dire need of refinishing. But Alex will keep me on one project at a time, quietly nodding as I explain, but it has to be done now.
No, really it doesn’t.
But that is simply how my mind works — in overdrive. Like a car on the brink of a breakdown, I’m not saying each of my notions are eternally wise ones. I’m admitting to the fact that they are always there and always getting spewed out of my face. So instigator fits and if that were the only word a person ever used to describe me, I’m a-okay with that.
Even if they didn’t happen to mean it as a compliment.
Selecting an epitaph is a harder task, especially in part because I don’t want memorialized with a tombstone. When I’m dead, and I mean Edgar Allen Poe no-bell-ringing-dead, I want (organ donation!) cremated and given a nice toss somewhere beautiful and soul soothing and then I want you to party. Pre-Christian, I used to want the party for the fun of celebrating my life, that I was having a good time in this old world, and let’s send me out with a bang. Even more so now that I’ve gotten a bit of a grip on the Jesus-in-my-life-thing, I want a party because I’m praying and keeping the faith that when I die I’ll be in heaven. Now there’s a cause to celebrate!
Hmmm, so let’s say someone puts together a … oh here I’ve got it, an invitation to my party. Every soirée should have a theme, so what would that sentence be?
“Come one, come all to enjoy a RoseMary shindig that sends her off to the (Norman Greenbaum’s original version, please) Spirit In The Sky with style and panache! Wear your most comfortable clothes, bring along your favorite beverage and sing-along tunes — 1960s, 1970s and include every available MercyMe song. Let’s instigate a heck of a party for a woman who drove us nuts while she was here. Yahoo and praise the Lord!”
Sounds like an event I’d like to attend.
What would your sentence be? This isn’t that place where we worry about being modest or humble. Pretend you are your biggest fan, which I hope you are, and how he/she would write that sentence. Come on, don’t make it difficult. Indulge in a bit of self press.
While there is still immense sadness for our parents’ passing, with grief echoing in our hearts as each year racks up another anniversary of us in a world without them, there is also great humor in our memories of them.
Mom’s epithet: Complex.
Her epitaph: “There were times in our lives where her humor was so amazing she floored you with it and other times when her obstinateness could be infuriating.”
During Mom’s funeral home visitation, the dominant theme was of family camaraderie and celebration of the impact the little minx had on us throughout her too short 74 years. We lifted her up from her suffering and told stories about her and the things that made her laugh until she cried.
Dad’s epithet: Irrepressible.
His epitaph: “When the light turns green, you put your foot on the gas and go.”
When Dad passed eight months later, our home was full of family and friends who at first had to work to move out of the sadness that this force of nature was gone, into the area of story telling and laughter as we shared anecdotes about his generous life — 77 years too few. I realized in the midst of the chaos of food and drink being served, of people roaming from room to room, that we were holding an Irish Wake for our Welsh dad and that he would have enjoyed each moment of it.
If I return to my epithet of Instigator, then perhaps the epitaph simply becomes, RoseMary wished to propel others forward with her adventures both physically with her and through her stories.
Grief can hold us back, paralyze us in place, or galvanize us to move boldly forward with a new life outlook. Defining our epithets and epitaphs can show us, so simply and concisely, who it is we want to be and how it is we want to live.
How about inspiring me — what are your epithets and epitaphs?