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Holly Springs couple finds humor in the afterlife

April 8, 2018

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — Jane and Charlie Farris died laughing in their Holly Springs home on Thursday, March 28.

They were 61 and 64, respectively.

Having spent the past 20 years in Mississippi, the couple will be remembered by friends and family for amassing a collection of nearly 1,000 announcements of the demised.

At least, they probably will be when they actually shuffle off this mortal coil.

For now, Charlie and Jane start each morning the same — in the pages of the Daily Journal and other newspapers, looking for a smile in the obituaries.

“This is my routine,” Jane said. “We never see each other in the mornings so this is how we communicate. I read the paper and leave him little notes of interesting things I saw. He comes behind me and cuts them out to save.”

Whether it’s the wild, the unexplained or just the outright funny, the Farrises have a box where they’ve organized each obituary into its own unique group for safekeeping and easy retrieval.

“We’re very religious people,” Charlie said, almost assuredly. “We’re at church every Sunday. I’m a good Catholic. But these things are too good to pass up.”

Obviously, it’s a longstanding tradition for loved ones to have fun with their final thoughts of someone they’ve lost and, in some cases, for the people themselves to write their own last statement. The Farrises believe it’s best to have a sense of humor about these things and enjoy finding when others do as well in the pages of the paper.

With categories like “Can’t Explain,” ″Expiration,” ″Content” or “Nicknames,” Charlie and Jane have a real dead-end hobby.

Jane filed through the clippings, reading off some of her favorites.

“He is survived by two ex-wives. No, this was not the cause of death.”

“Her infamous eggnog handicapped 100 Christmas mornings.”

“This man ‘will be missed by more people than you can count on your fingers, especially since he was missing nearly two fingers,’” Jane read, laughing.

Their “Expiration” category consists of opening lines used to describe how people passed on. Terms like, “was lifted into Heaven,” ″set sail on her last cruise,” ″fell asleep in her Master’s arms,” ″finished her race” and “graduated to Heaven” make up a lot of what they have in that file.

The other three categories, specifically “Content,” give some of the biggest giggles.

One submission of a deceased man by the name of “Popeye” listed his attributes as “quickly becoming an example of bad parenting, combined with mental illness and complete commitment to drinking, drugs and womanizing.”

“That’s how you want to be remembered, isn’t it?” Charlie said, chuckling.

Another entry cited a woman from the Memphis area, stating, “if you could put a party in a bucket, you could lead her anywhere.” That’s one of Jane’s favorites.

The two University of Mississippi alums have become quite famous for their stockpile.

“Everybody knows we do this,” Charlie said. “Our friends send us these from all over the place.”

“Our plans for when we die are to have a big, old open funeral and just have all these out around the house,” Jane said.

The couple frequent Ole Miss football games, where the reserve has also made appearances.

“We have a bulletin board in the Grove and we take pictures every week of everybody at the game and print them and hang it on the tree. One year, we didn’t have any pictures from the last game, so we went through and did obituaries and people would come up and stand there and read them all. People loved it,” Charlie said.

Clearly, the couple have no qualms with finding humor in all walks of life.

When items from Graceland Too, the off-beat Holly Springs shrine to Elvis Presley, went up for sale, the Farrises went bidding on the pink Cadillac limousine that sat in the driveway. They had an even bigger laugh when they won it, and it now sits in their own driveway.

“You’d be amazed the responses you get when you drive it up to the Grove,” Charlie said. “People go crazy for it.”

The pink limousine will probably work itself into Charlie’s own obituary, he said.

“All this has made us think about what we want in our own write-up,” he said. “I haven’t written my own yet, but I know some of what I want in there. I’ve got to get in there that I once made a hole-in-one. And I know I want a band at my funeral.”

“I’ve learned what I don’t want in mine,” Jane emphasized.

“And we’ve both learned to be nice to your friends and relatives because they’re the ones that will end up writing yours for you if you don’t,” Charlie added.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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