I wanted to share the most moving essay I’ve read in a long, long time. It is actor James Rebhorn’s obituary, which he penned himself. Who, you may ask, is James Rebhorn?
I’m not sure I knew his name, but I certainly knew his face. A character actor who has played the “bad” guy so many times I don’t think I can count. He died last week at the (too young) age of 65. He left a huge body of work on film, and on stage. He listed no roles, no awards, no public kudos in his obit. Instead, he talked about his family, and what they meant to him. You can read it here.
I am moved by Mr. Rebhorn’s words. Words he chose to tell his life story, the way he wanted to tell it. His wonderful career barely got a mention at the bottom. He let the world, and his family, know what was important to him. His family. He told his story, as he wanted it told.
I have been thinking about this obituary all day. About the comfort it will give his family. About what it says about him as a human being, as an actor, as a son/brother/husband/father, and as a thoughtful man. About the way it made me think about him. About how he used his own obituary to thank the people who gave him joy, rather than celebrate that life itself. A very powerful way to reframe what success looks like.