THE GREAT BEYOND — When Sal Govatino died, he left behind a wife and three sons, and after reading the obituary they came up with for him, he started to wish he’d made a family “with someone that can construct a coherent narrative.”
“It was just so unfocused, they started with my time in the Navy before they mentioned I was born in rural Kentucky, and that was after they mentioned my career as a culture critic,” Govatino tells us. “My life wasn’t some friggin’ Quentin Tarantino movie — it had a clear beginning, middle, and, as you can tell now…ending.”
Mr. Govatino spent thirty-one years as the local paper’s critic of plays, movies, television shows, restaurants, and generally just about anything artistic in nature. Govatino lived in a small Idaho town for much of his adult life with his wife Maria and their sons Sal Jr., Salvatore, and Salad Tongs, who they named after the kitchen implement the doctors used to remove him from Maria’s birth canal when he was born. Sal says he loved his family dearly, but was “utterly disappointed” with how little he enjoyed their obituary for him.
“Did no one take control of the process? Was there any editing at all,” Sal asked rhetorically. “I mean, I understand that you’re in an emotionally compromised state, but you could still rein in some of the stuff on where I went to junior high and stuff. No one’s reading my obit for that kind of detail.”
Mr. Govatino hopes that when his wife passes away, his sons will have “learned from the mistakes of their first production” with his obituary and write a better one for her.
“Sometimes you have to miss a pitch so you can get your timing right and knock the next one out of the park,” Govatino said. “So I hope that’s what mine was; just everyone’s abysmal swing and a miss. But you never know, I suppose.”
Sal gives his obituary a final score of two out of five possible headstones.