By Gerald Hausman
Bokeelia, FL, USA
George and Gerald Hausman
I guess you haven't lived until you've died.
Ernest Hemingway found that out in Africa. After two plane crashes in two days, the author, who had used his head for a battering ram to break out of a burning plane, read his own obit.
It may have reminded him that he'd seen it before. Earlier during his life the printer for his novel Death in the Afternoon abbreviated this title on the galley proofs so it read: Hemingway's Death.
Correcting copy in tropical heat, Hemingway raged against the galley title appearing on every page. The annoyance, he said, was having to see it a thousand times while reading proof. Later, he wrote his editor that he would like to break the neck of the punk who was responsible.
Stephen King, on the other hand, used his own brush with death in his Dark Tower series of novels.
In 1999 when struck by the distracted driver of a van as he walked in rural Maine, King turned the horrible event into a clever ploy. He prefigured his death, as character and narrator of the Dark Tower (novels 5, 6 & 7), and turned it into art.
I was musing on the effect of reading one's obit when it happened to me. The headline read: "Gerald L. Hausman . . . gone but not forgotten."
Actually, I'd almost forgotten that I had died.
Until I remembered that I was alive and well and that my middle initial was A. not L.
But wait - there was yet another obit that stated that I'd died several years earlier.
This one was Gerry A. and the deceased was connected with the ABA. My addled brain took this in as American Bookseller Association from whom I had just received an honor. Reading on to find out where I was buried I discovered that Gerry A. Hausman was a member of the American Bus Driver's Association.
All in a day's death, you might say, this digging in the obits of strangers who have the same name.
God bless them, may they be typing, turning corners and driving happy buses in heaven. May they get lots of Google alerts saying "You only live twice."