A Life Well-Lived, and an Obituary Well-Written

You are unique…just like everyone else.  
 —Somebody, probably  

We’d all like to think that when we leave this world, someone would take note. (OK, maybe I’m generalizing inappropriately, but work with me here.) And pretty much all of us mean something to somebody, whether we realize it or not. Nevertheless, for most of us our passing won’t generate much more than perhaps a blurb in the obit section of the local newspaper, and the grief of family and friends. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and since we’re dead, what do we care, anyway?

But every now and then, someone dies without being famous or infamous or even extraordinary in a Major Newspaper Headline sort of way, but they still attract attention disproportionate to what most of us think of newsworthiness. (And, again, I generalize.) Such is the case for a gentleman named Ken Fuson, who died a week ago in a hospital in Omaha.

Never heard of Ken Fuson? You’re not alone. But because Ken had a sense of humor (and, possibly, a sense of destiny), his self-penned obituary ensures that more people will know about him in death than perhaps knew him in life (thanks in no small part to this reporting by the Wall Street Journal).

Ken was a journalist — and apparently a very gifted one, at that — and wrote his own obituary. We should all face the end of our lives with such humor and grace as Ken. He was a flawed human being — as are we all –and he owned his flaws, but he also realized that those flaws didn’t define him in any meaningful way; he was a man of faith in a faithful God. Here’s what he wrote:

Ken’s pastor says God can work miracles for you and through you. Skepticism may be cool, and for too many years Ken embraced it, but it was faith in Jesus Christ that transformed his life. That was the one thing he never regretted. It changed everything.

For many years Ken was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Indianola and sang in the choir, which was a neat trick considering he couldn’t read a note of music. The choir members will never know how much they helped him. He then joined Lutheran Church of Hope. If you want to know what God’s love feels like, just walk in those doors. Seriously, right now. We’ll wait. Ken’s not going anywhere.

If we want to control what people think about us after we die, one way is to write our own obituaries. I submit to you that an even better way is to live lives that make those obituaries compelling reading. Ken knew.