Eric Rogers Gaddy, of Asheville, North Carolina, died peacefully at the young age of 92 on April 20th, 2060, making good on the promise he made Deb in 2009, to live to at least 92. He often expressed “the bare minimum is enough, if the minimum is set high enough”.

Eric is survived by his wife Debra, 52 years his partner (30 years of marriage, both were too stubborn to get married sooner) daughter Kate, son Frank and a slew of grandkids.

Eric was a financial advisor, author and a free-range human. At 48 he was able to re-write the story of his life and live with no regrets. He took risks that many wouldn’t take and marched to the beat of his own drum. He didn’t have a care for material things and cars were never to be purchased new. In the end he expressed that the memories he held dear were more valuable than any expensive car or big house he could have owned.

Eric loved to laugh even though he might be the only one laughing at his jokes. But he laughed anyway. He loved Clemson football, smoking cigars and spending time with his children and grandchildren. He traveled the world becoming fluent in the phrase “two beers please” in in each country he and Deb visited.

Once you got him talking, he wouldn’t shut up. He was a friend to many and loved proving that life can be more fun when living it on your own terms. He offered encouragement and advice to anyone wanting it.

There will be no visitation or funeral service. His remains will be cremated. There will be a “Celebration of Eric’s Life” at the Westville Pub in Asheville. (Eric’s favorite watering hole.)

Please no donations. Eric asked that you commit a random act of kindness to a stranger.

Carpe diem crastinum ad id non secum

“Seize the day for tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

As the son of a funeral director, I’ve read hundreds of obituaries in the past. Most used the same template to describe the person: list family members both past and present, share a paragraph about the person’s accomplishments (often not much more than their job description), send flowers here, and the service will be held at this location and time.  It’s sad that our life can be summed up in only a few paragraphs.

What will your obituary read? Have you ever thought about that?

I found writing my own obituary to be humbling and sobering at the same time. My 50th birthday is coming up soon and I have so many things I want to accomplish and experience. Assuming I have 42 more years to do it is being very presumptuous. As of today, I’ve been alive for 18,243 days. The average person lives 28,470 days (78 years). That gives me just 10,227 days, if I am lucky, to live the life I want my obituary to read.

Most people don’t like to think about or face their own mortality. The fact is, we can’t escape it. We’re reminded of it when we hear about a former classmate that has died, perhaps a co-worker who has passed, or a neighbor who is terminally ill.

The death of anyone close to you can be lifechanging. The death of my sister and business partner at such young ages changed the direction of my life. First, their deaths woke me up from my years of just being on auto-pilot. Once awoken I became present and focused on taking control of my life and redirected it in a way that I wanted to live out the rest of my days. Who knows, I might live until I’m 92 like my obituary above says or I might die tomorrow. Either way, I lived my life on my terms.

Writing your own obituary now is an exercise of putting your life in perspective. Will your obituary be a cookie cutter template or a testament to how you lived your life to the fullest?

That’s up to you.

It’s never too late, until it’s too late.