Monday, September 5, 2011

Teenage Obituary

As I was going through my "Writing Box" I came upon something interesting. Actually, many interesting things but this one will come first...I found an obituary I wrote for myself sometime my senior year of high school or first year at USAFA. I can't remember why I wrote it - I assume it was probably for an assignment of some kind, but who knows? I think those of you who know me will get a kick out of it - either way, it's interesting to see what my 17-18 year old mind thought was important, what would mark a successful, happy life...Maybe something I should think about some more and see how it would be different if I wrote it now.

Colonel Sam (actual full name here) died yesterday at the age of 53. She died during a test flight of the new Grey Falcon X-18 when the engines malfunctioned.
Col Sam was a recipient of a Bronze Star when she acted, with no thought for her own safety, and saved the lives of 35 Hungarian refugees as they fled from Soviet military police after a peace rally.
Col Sam graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1994 and went on to pilot training. During a night jump her second year, she fractured both legs and was told she'd never walk again. Overcoming great obstacles, she went through rigorous physical therapy and returned to the Air Force to become the first female fighter pilot.
Col Sam and her husband, Edward Johnson, spent many years in Africa in an effort to make the plight of the endangered elephants more well known. She spent her life doing what she could to save this endangered species. 
She is survived by her daughters Elizabeth, a lawyer in New York, and Margaret, a doctor in Louisiana, and her sons Jonathan and Marcus, both of whom are training to become fighter pilots. Her husband, head of Johnson & Johnson, has set the date for the ceremony (to be announced later this week). 
Col Sam is donating her organs and other useful parts for medical use and scientific study. She will be cremated with her ashes to be sprinkled over the ocean.

The elephants and Africa are no surprise. Nor is wanting to marry someone fabulously wealthy. Even the Hungarian refugees makes sense considering I used to think about joining the Peace Corps to "help people."

The main thing I get when I read this is a bit of a "super-hero complex" thing - as if I wanted to be remembered for doing great things, for making an impact to the world and the people around me, to leave the world better than I found it.

I guess that's not really a bad just leaves a lot to live up to. And probably helps explain why I always feel as if I haven't done I know those feelings started 20 years ago.

What would your obituary say? What makes a successful life to you?


  1. Trebord died this past weekend of a curable disease had it been caught early enough. He leaves behind many friends and loved ones around the world--friends he had too little time with but never forgot. He hoped in life to make a positive difference wherever he was and whatever he was doing. If he is remembered from time to time with a smile, he probably succeeded.

  2. Trebord - if that's your definition of success, I think you can count everything else as icing on the cake...