On Turning 80


Judy Downs Henline, Leland

Photos taken at my birthday celebration revealed a shocking visage of an old lady. The most striking photo with my tall grandsons shows a short granny with a big tummy. Where did the tall slim woman go? Wrinkles are the least of a sagging face with crepey skin. If the external body is any indication of what the internal organs, what is the likelihood of a long life of 90 years?

The aftershock of turning 80 leads to thoughts of future years. How long do I have left? Will I outlast my money? Where will I live if my husband dies first? I do not have to fear living too long because I have a good support system.

The most practical thing that I did was to call a local funeral home for an appointment.

After moving from “home” to a downsized townhouse, I needed to change locations for prepaid funeral plans. The next step was revising the obituaries to reflect change of city.

Reflecting on why we chose to prepay funeral arrangements over 20 years ago, I recalled the reason we chose to do that. I had recently taken my dad and mother to the attorney’s office to get Power of Attorney. After completing that, Dad wanted to stop at the funeral home. Mother said that they will not have time to see us. Dad’s friend, “little” Tommy Tucker completed the transactions. We only had to select caskets. Dad made jokes about his casket being too short—he is well over six feet tall. I teased Mother about selecting a pink casket. Mother was having none of the conversation. She refused to decide on a casket so Dad told Tommy to give her one like his.

Dad died shortly after making the arrangements. I had to write his obituary. I have a bias about how obituaries are written–correct grammar is a must! Genealogy has led me to examine many obituaries in search of a female relative. If the obituary lists her as Mrs. Husband’s Surname, it does not provide her given name as well as her maiden name. It irritates me to read that the deceased has gone to heaven to become an angel.

My uncle’s obituary stated that he was at Pearl Harbor although he was not enlisted in the Navy until 1943. I chose my photo to reflect me at my best not when I am old and sick. An obituary is a medium for telling a person’s unique life story.

My tall daughters, granddaughter and I chose a beautiful dress for my mother’s funeral. When we went to the funeral home to provide the dress, we towered over Tommy Tucker. The girls got the giggles about us being the Amazon women. I have not chosen my clothing to wear to the cremation!