so long frankie

I read an article in the New York Times Magazine years ago about what the afterlife means for a variety of people. Fran Lebowitz will use hers to return phone calls; Ross Bleckner will have his ashes mixed with paint to be used by his favorite 10 artists for a group show. My favorite though was from Frank McCourt, who died yesterday, and whose words we still quote with amusement in my house:

“My hereafter is here. I am where I'm going, for I am mulch. It's a great comfort to know that in my mulch-hood I may nourish a row of parsnips.”

McCourt deserved a longer life and a shorter death, and I’ll miss knowing that he walks and talks among us. Speaking to a group of students after the publication of Angela’s Ashes he once said, “I learned the significance of my own insignificant life.” With that he nourished a throng of unknowns to write their own “insignificant” stories, a generation of voices that might not otherwise have been heard. Parsnips indeed.

Endpaper; The Afterlife, As I See It