Memo to family: Do not hyphenate me.

Garret Mathews is retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. He penned more than 6,500 columns in a career that began in 1972. Mathews lives in Carmel, Ind., and happily babysits his new grandson four days a week.

Garet Mathews

Memo to family:

Do not hyphenate me.

 I’m talking tombstone here.

You have permission to take advantage of the early-bird special and buy the slab of rock.

You do not have permission to carve in the year of my birth and leave the rest blank.

There’s enough pressure in my life. I don’t want to take a stroll in the graveyard and see “Mathews” on the stone and beneath it, “1949-.”

I’d feel like a loose end.

The guy at the monument company waits with chisel in hand to complete the job.

And waits. And waits.

Does he pound in “2043,” or “2048,” or, hopefully, “2063?”

The poor fellow can’t collect full payment on the job until I breathe my last.

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The only polite thing would be to go to his office every December and apologize for being alive.

“Look,” I’ll tell him. “I know I’m being a pain for continuing to enjoy good health. Maybe this will be the year my bile duct explodes and you can finish the inscription.”

Understand this, family members. Thinking ahead is one thing. Foreshadowing my demise is quite another.

Hyphenate your own selves. Leave me out of it.

I have nothing against inscriptions provided they don’t suggest the end game. I submit the following for your approval:

“Here lies our beloved father and husband. He liked children, dogs and the way Angelina Jolie looked in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”


“Now you can turn the thermostat up.”


“Here lies the mortal remains of Mathews. He was born in 1949 and we have absolutely no idea when he is going to die.”


“Give these bare bones a place to rest.

“Never mind that he lacked a crest.

“About one thing he was a holy terror.

“He hated to make a grammatical error.”


“The typist buried here lived simply.

“There’s little he would have amended.

“So, in death, we grant one last wish.

“That his tombstone not be open-ended.”

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About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired three decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement (Your Simple Path to FIRE) and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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