Scrivener’s* noun definition for epithet is, “adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned.” 

In case you get my brain cramps from word confusion…. Epitaph as a noun, “phrase or statement in memory of a dead person, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.”

With those explanations in mind, what’s your one-word-only epithet of self description? Quick, one word! What is it?

Why did you pick that word?

Would the people in your life be surprised by your choice or nod in quiet agreement?

My Epithet

I doubt if my acquaintances would be shocked by my choice: Instigator—“a person who brings about or initiates something.” Yep, that’s what I like to do.

My sister Jackie says that my constant flow of ideas are exhausting. I think we should do this or we ought to give that a spin and what do you think if…. Even though, as the participant in my instigated doings, she’s experienced Italy, Wales, and smaller scale excitements.

Husband Alex’s feet, firmly planted in the earth, respond to the hurtling statements above with calm, rational thought. He keeps my projects from whirling like a dervish one-into-the-other-right-now. This explains why only the kitchen table is upside down on the floor while I paint the legs. The four matching chairs are without seats and strewn through the living room while they get the same treatment. My glorious antique library table top requires a re-do and thirty-year-old dining room set is in dire need of refinishing. Alex keeps me on one project at a time, nodding as I plead, but it has to be done now.

No, really it doesn’t.

That is how my mind works—in overdrive, like a car with revving RPMs. I’m not saying each of my notions are eternally wise ones. I’m admitting that they are always there and always getting spewed out of my face. Instigator fits and if that were the only word a person ever used to describe me, I’m okay with that. 

Even if they didn’t happen to mean it as a compliment.

My Epitaph

Selecting an epitaph is a harder task, especially in part because I don’t want memorialized with a tombstone. When I’m dead, and I mean Edgar Allen Poe no-bell-ringing-dead, I want (organ donation!) cremated. Give me a nice toss somewhere beautiful and soul soothing (Wales), and party. Pre-Christian, I wanted to celebrate my life. I had a good time in this old world so let’s send me out with a bang. Getting a grip on Jesus-in-my-life, I want a party because keeping the faith that heaven is waiting. Now there’s a cause to celebrate!

Hmm, let’s say someone puts together a … oh here I’ve got it, an invitation to my party. Every soirée should have a theme, what would that sentence be?

“Come one, come all! Enjoy a RoseMary shindig sending her off to the (Norman Greenbaum’s) Spirit In The Sky with style and panache! Wear comfortable clothes, bring your favorite beverage and sing-along tunes—1960s, 1970s and every available MercyMe song. Let’s instigate a heck of a party for a woman who drove us nuts while she was here. Yahoo and praise the Lord!”

Sounds like an event I’d like to attend.

What would your epitaph sentence be? This isn’t that place where we worry about being modest or humble. Pretend you are your biggest fan, which I hope you are, and how he/she would write that sentence. Come on, don’t make it difficult. Indulge in a bit of self press.

My Parents’ Epithets and Epitaphs

While there is still immense sadness for our parents’ death, grief echoing in our hearts at another anniversary of a world without them, there is also great humor in our memories.

Mom’s epithet: Complex. 

Her epitaph: “There were times in our lives where her humor was so amazing she floored you with it and other times when her obstinateness could be infuriating.” 

During Mom’s funeral visitation, the dominant theme was family camaraderie. We celebrated the impact the little minx had on us throughout her too short 74 years. We lifted her up from suffering and told stories about the things that made her laugh until she cried.

Dad’s epithet: Irrepressible. 

His epitaph: “When the light turns green, you put your foot on the gas and go.”

When Dad passed eight months later, our home was full of family and friends. At first we worked to move out of the sadness at losing this force of nature. Then we moved into story telling and laughter as we shared anecdotes about his generous life—77 years too few. In the midst of the chaos of food and drink, of people roaming the rooms, we held an Irish Wake for our Welsh dad that he would have relished.

And so…

Returning to my Instigator epithet, my epitaph becomes, RoseMary wished to propel others toward adventures—both with her and through stories.

Grief can hold us back, paralyze us in place, or galvanize us to move boldly forward with a new life outlook. Defining our epithets and epitaphs can show us, so simply and concisely, who it is we want to be and how it is we want to live.

How about inspiring me – what are your epithets and epitaphs?


A Few Instigations…


See: In support of doing crazy things and Why Worry?

*Writing software by Literature and Latte