A birthday wish

Today is my birthday and a friend of mine sent the following birthday wish:

May your epitaph be a long way away and as clever as these:


If cash thou art in want of any,

Dig four feet deep and find a Penny.”

Epitaph of John Penny, Wimborne, England.


“In loving memory of Ellen Shannon, aged 25,

Who was accidentally burned March 21, 1870,

By the explosion of a lamp filled with R.E. Danforth’s

Non-explosive burning fluid.”

Epitaph in cemetery at Girard, Pennsylvania


“Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,

Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”

Gravestone near Uniontown, Pennsylvania


“Here lies John Yeast,

Pardon me for not rising.”

Cemetery in Ruidoso, New Mexico


Here lies the body of our dead Anna

Gone to death by a banana

It wasn’t the fruit that dealt the blow

But the skin of the thing that laid her low!

On a tombstone in Enosburg Falls, Vermont


Here lies Ezekial Aikle

Age 102

The Good Die Young

East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia, Canada


Here lies the body of Emily White,

She signaled left, and then turned right.


John Brown (18th Century) Dentist

Stranger! Approach this spot with gravity!

John Brown is filling his last cavity.


“I Told You I Was Sick”

Cemetery in Key West, Florida

That last one reminded of me one just like it that I found and wrote about Buffalo, New York, and the Forest Lawn Cemetery:

Nothing is as final as death.  The quote, “Dead men tell no lies” reminds us of the silence of the grave.  However, the dead can speak one last time in wills, diaries, letters, and epitaphs.  Though many epitaphs are chosen for the person after he or she has passed away, some people do choose their own.  Mel Blanc’s epitaph signs off with his signature Porky Pig closing at the end of the Looney Tunes cartoon, “That’s All Folks!”  One wonders if Mr. Banc was also making a larger statement on the afterlife.

In the case of Barry Becher, the advertising guru who pioneered late-night infomercials hawking Ginsu Knives who just recently died, his family has announced that his epitaph will read, “But wait, there’s more!”  This is his famous catch phrase that has been mimicked by nearly every infomercial now.  Again, this epitaph could be read as a double entendre referring to the hereafter.

Amaryllis Jones, who is buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York, also had the last word.  Her epitaph reads, “I told you I was sick.”  No mistaking that message; she wanted to remind those who she left behind that she was not complaining, this was not the typical ailment, that she was RIGHT, she was sick!  Or, she had a good sense of humor.

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1 Response to A birthday wish

  1. These are quite funny but also very telling of our attitudes toward death. Thank you for sharing!

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