We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing and we need to make a decision about his headstone. My siblings and I have been trying to figure out the right epitaph to honor our dad in his final resting place. Our mom’s epitaph simply says, “The Best.” It was the perfect then, and it still is… almost half of a century later.
But somehow our dad’s epitaph is a bigger challenge. Perhaps because we want the sentiment to be in keeping with the simplicity and perfection of our mom’s. But our dad lived a much longer life with many more chapters. In fact, he lived twice as long as our mom, so finding the perfect expression to encapsulate his life just seems harder.
In the latter part of our dad’s life, the greatest joy for him was to share a meal with family or friends. So, my sister thinks his headstone should say: Let’s Eat!
My middle daughter thinks due to his legendary parking karma; we should write: Herb’s Final Parking Spot.
My oldest brother thinks we should say: The Sweetest. As this was what everyone would say upon meeting our dad.
Sometimes people use their loved ones most common expression. Most of our dad’s favorite expressions were in Yiddish. Here are just a few:
Zei Gezunt - Which means, Go and Be Well. He said this every time he said goodbye.
Use It Gezunterhait - This is a hybrid of English and Yiddish which means, Use It In Good Health. He said this every time we bought something. Big or small. Whether it was a pair of jeans or a brand new car.
Kina Hora - Which translates, May The Evil Eye Not Look Down Upon Your Success. He said this whenever we told him good news.
Shlof Gezunt - It means, Sleep Well. Ironically, not a bad choice for a permanent resting place.
Are you going to eat that tomato? Obviously, this is not a Yiddish expression. He just really loved tomatoes, and he hated to see them go to waste on someone’s plate.
A friend of mine used his father’s favorite expression for his epitaph: It Could Be Worse.
Our dad was the ultimate optimist. A glass half-full kind of guy. So, it is important for us to capture honor that spirit. His optimism might have been the secret to his longevity. As I sit here trying to figure out what expression embodies him best, I just remembered one of his favorite sayings:
Count Your Blessings
I will need to confer with the tribal council a.k.a my brothers and sister. But, Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we might have a winner.