A 75-year-old Texas man has posthumously gone viral after penning his own
obituary, which was rife with personal anecdotes and heartfelt wisdom.
What are the details?
Lonnie Dillard, 75, an Austin resident, died on Dec. 18 — just a month after receiving a diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Upon receiving the sad news of his terminal state, Dillard went ahead and wrote his own obituary in a moving farewell letter.
"I suspect very few of you reading this notice knew me personally," he wrote. "You may merely be scanning today's obituary column out of boredom or morbid curiosity, like I used to do, for names or photos of people you know, have known, or known of. And perhaps mumbling a prayer, silently congratulating yourself, that you are not the one — not yet anyway — who has recently passed away."
He continued, "Whatever the reason for your attention, I hope to make your time worthwhile. Instead of cataloging careers and adventures I have had, honors I received, missteps I made or women I loved (I was blessed to have more than my share of each of these) or bemoaning how much my sparkling wit or wisdom will be missed, I thought it better to share a few of the big lessons I learned during my 75 eventful years on Planet Earth."
Dillard's first lesson? "A mother's unwavering love can turn a very ordinary little boy into an extra-ordinary man, if only in his own mind."
"Making and keeping friends, like tending a garden, requires attention and effort," he added. "Yet doing so yields greater returns than anything else you will ever do."
Dillard continued, "As Buddhists say: Be kind; everyone you meet is traveling a difficult journey. There is no substitute for a good deed; but simply helping a stranger laugh or smile can lighten a load, too."
"If your word is no good, chances are very good, you are not either," Dillard pointed out.
"Having money is always better than NOT having money," he added. "But beyond basic needs and a few luxuries, money is not a requirement for happiness. Enough really is enough; greed can hollow out the heart, even topple civilizations."
Dillard later insisted that learning is as important — if not more so — as anything else.
"Time spent learning — anything — is never time wasted," he added.
And speaking of waste — it's a sin, according to Dillard.
"Do not 'save things for nice,'" he continued. "Not the new guest room towels, the good crystal that will surely chip with everyday use, nor that ridiculously expensive jacket you bought on a lark in Florence. 'Nice' may never happen; life is lived now."
Dillard also insisted that happiness is "not the result of what does or does not happen to you in your life," but a "decision you make" on a daily basis.
He concluded, "Unfortunately, I did not know all these lessons all my life; some I paid very dearly to learn. Or re-learn. But I do know that if I could live my life over, I would want these as a starter kit."
The obituary for Dillard, who was married to his wife, Sandi Sain, for nearly 40 years, closed, "Lonnie Dillard was born May 7, 1945, and grew up in west Texas. He died at home in Austin on December 18, after learning of a diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer on November 11. Lonnie is survived by his loving wife of 35 years, Sandi Sain, and friends too numerous and far-flung to mention."