There are last words, and then there’s having your parting message for the world etched in stone.
Epitaphs can be touching, grandiose or funny, but try to get yours right; you’ve only got one shot. Here are five memorable epitaphs from the tombstones of a comedian, a writer, an outlaw, a politician and someone we can only hope was a baker.
Rodney Dangerfield: “There goes the neighborhood.”
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield was most famous for his tagline, “I don’t get no respect,” and apparently he expected his bad reputation to follow him into the afterlife.
Well-regarded for his work in “Caddyshack” and “Back to School,” Dangerfield was known for his self-deprecating humor and one-liners such as, "I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio."
Rodney Dangerfield died of heart failure at the age of 82 in 2004.
Studs Terkel: “Curiosity did not kill this cat.”
Pulitzer-prize winning author, radio host and journalist Studs Terkel credited his insatiable curiosity for keeping him working into his 90s.
Terkel was most famous for interviewing average people and weaving their stories together to create vibrant images of American life. He died in 2008 at the age of 96.
Jesse James: “Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”
Jesse James was known for his many crimes and his membership in the notorious James-Younger Gang, but his mother glossed over those aspects of his life in his epitaph.
James was murdered by a traitor, though; Robert Ford, a fellow gang member and alleged friend, shot James in the back of the head in 1882.
James was 34 when he died, but rumors that he was still alive and living in hiding persisted well into the 1900s.
Winston Churchill: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
Prime Minister Winston Churchill was known for his biting wit, and his caustic tendencies caused tension with peers and fellow politicians throughout his life.
When Churchill passed away in 1965 at the age of 90, he still had enough of a sense of humor to know he might not be so easy to get along with for eternity, either.
John Yeast: "Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising."
Mr. Yeast’s cause and date of death aren’t included on his tombstone in Ruidoso, N.M., but the fact that he or someone in his family had a wicked sense of humor is.
His profession is also left off, but in a perfect world it would have had something to do with dough.
A person’s epitaph reveals plenty about how he or she lived, and a surprising number are cheeky, lighthearted or downright hilarious.
If you’re looking for something interesting to do on a warm afternoon, check out some of the older cemeteries in your area to see if you can find any local gems.