So long, Art
Even in death, US columnist and satirist Art Buchwald managed one touching last laugh on January 18, appearing in his own online obituary and penning a posthumous final column entitled ‘Goodbye, My Friends’.
“Hi, I’m Art Buchwald, and I just died,” he says, introducing the video obituary on the New York Times website.
Buchwald, who decided to stop undergoing kidney dialysis last year, knowing it would eventually kill him, died at his home in Washington on January 17.
Asked in the obituary interview what was the meaning of his life, he replies, “I haven’t figured it out. If I want to give myself any kind of tho-ught, it’s that I was put on Earth to make people laugh. If you can make people laugh, you get all the love you want.”
In the video, filmed at his summer home in July of last year, Buchwald describes how his doctor told him he would die in three weeks if he stopped his dialysis.
“It turned out I was in the hospice for five months. ... I became some sort of a celebrity for death,” he says, sitting in a wheelchair.
Asked what he would like his legacy to be, he says, “I think I want to be remembered as somebody who made people laugh, feel better. The weird part of it is, because of what I’ve gone through for the past six months, I’ve had time to plan my funeral, my memorial. I describe my funeral, there, on the island, where I’d have a Blue Angel navy plane fly over the site. I would be cremated and my ashes would be dropped all over every cocktail party on Martha’s Vineyard. All the sailboats out here would be at half mast, their sails, and everybody would say what a wonderful guy I was.” In his final column, he explains his decision saying “it sounded like the most painless way to go”.
“I think of a song lyric, ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’ I don’t know how well I’ve done while I was here, but I’d like to think some of my printed works will persevere — at least for three years. I know it’s very egocentric to believe that someone is put on earth for a reason. In my case, I like to think I was... So, ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’ is my way of saying goodbye.”