I never met Harry Stamps, but after reading his obituary last week, I wish I had.
Stamps’ obit, which originally ran in the SunHerald in Mississippi (sunherald.com), went viral thanks to the colorful description of who he was and the way he lived his life.
With lines like “He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words ‘veranda’ and ‘porte cochere’ to put on airs, eating grape leaves, ‘Law and Order’ (all franchises), cats and Martha Stewart. In reverse order,” who wouldn’t want to meet this guy? Martha Stewart is on my list of people I want to slap!
He also shared my hatred of Daylight Savings Time, which he apparently called The Devil’s Time. His obit states, “It is not lost on his family that he died on the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward.”
After reading his obit, I thought, “Now that’s how an obit should be written!” I’ve toyed with addressing the subject before, but it’s a sensitive subject. There’s always someone grieving, dealing with the death of a loved one. I don’t want to offend or be insensitive to someone grieving, but the way our culture approaches death just doesn’t suit me. I’ll leave my ideas on death (I’m Seventh-day Adventist and believe in our church’s view on state of the dead) and funerals for another day.
I know it won’t really matter because I’ll be dead and gone and won’t know what is being said about me, but I’d like to think my family puts a little more effort into my obit, that they want to tell my story and give people a snippet of the real Misty. Obits are often where we turn when we are researching our family history. How cool would it be for my great-great-great-great-granddaughter to find out more about me than just who I was related to and when I died?
This is a subject I’ve addressed with my family more than once. Don’t we all want to leave a legacy behind?
I’ve put a lot of thought into what I want in my obit, and apparently so has my mom because she helped me with this.
Misty Danielle Watson-Wheeler died in a freak motocross accident on her 100th birthday, July 22, 2082. (Or whatever really causes me to die, but that sounds good for now.) She was a hater, sarcastic and thought she was the funniest person in the world.
Misty married the only man who could ever put up with her, Chris Wheeler, on May 7, 2006, on a very rainy afternoon in Murray County. She gave birth to her precious daughter, Sophie, in October 2011. Sophie looked just like her daddy, but had Misty’s ill temper and stubborn streak. The birth of her daughter prompted her to become an annoying advocate for breastfeeding. (This is where other survivors would be added in a funny, non-so-and-so-begat-so-and-so kind of way.)
Misty touched many lives — some positively, some negatively — but she always left an impression. She was a modern day hippie and believed God wants us to be good stewards of the environment and caretaker to animals. Therefore, she believed in living as natural of a lifestyle as possible and was a vegetarian most of her life. She focused on healthy eating, except when her love of chocolate took control. While cooking, she would often pretend she was a contestant on “Chopped” or “Iron Chef” and talked to her animals and family like she was the host of a cooking show. Many of her friends came to her for cooking advice and recipes.
Misty was brutally honest, but had a compassionate side she rarely wanted anyone to see. She often secretly paid for stranger’s meals at restaurants. She was always willing to jump in and help, but that was probably because she loved telling people what to do.
Misty had many hates, including but not limited to springtime, Carolina Panthers football, people who drove slowly in the left-hand lane, people who didn’t use turn signals, squeaky shoes during basketball games, the sound of clay poker chips clanking together, bad grammar, littering, the color mauve, makeup, high heels, men who thought women should wear heels, convention, gender roles, bad photography, Oprah, how you can’t order any food in the South without it having bacon on it, formula companies, trying on pants, the smell of vinegar, the taste of vinegar, the thought of vinegar, Michael Vick, Facebook updates that weren’t first fact-checked on Snopes, getting out of bed early, having to wear pants, people who talk too loudly, cigarette smoke, temperatures above 75 degrees and Benjamin Franklin.
Misty loved taking photos, being out in nature away from people, Atlanta Falcons football, painting, eating tomatoes fresh off the vine, playing poker, making herself laugh with stupid jokes, sarcasm, being right, jeans, the smell of old books, reading (especially while wearing fuzzy pajamas), rocking chairs, singing what she was doing as she was doing it, dancing when there was no music playing, looking at the night sky, Janis Joplin, vinyl records, jigsaw puzzles, Cadbury Creme Eggs and eating dinner at 4:30 p.m.
Per Misty’s request there will be no funeral and no one is allowed to say “she never met a stranger,” “she was a nice person” or “she’s in heaven looking down on you right now.” Instead, everyone is invited to gather for a night of 7-card stud poker where people are encouraged to have fun and laugh in her memory. Her body will be donated to science because she thought it was selfish for a dead body to be buried when others can benefit from it.
Murray County native Misty Watson is a photographer and staff writer for The Daily Citizen. Yes, she is aware of how morbid she is. You can connect with her on Facebook, facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN; on Twitter, @mistydwatson; and by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.