When 66-year-old Geoffrey Turner decided to write his own obituary, his family thought it would include items such as his great business ventures and world travels. Little did they know, it was Turner’s last act that would make them most proud.
The New York father of five and husband of 41 years passed away on February 13, but before he did, he left behind a powerful warning message to others. Of all his life’s accomplishments, his greatest act was encouraging others not to make the same fatal mistake he did:
“I was an idiot who made the same stupid decision, day-after-day, multiple times per day. I was a smoker and even though I knew it may eventually kill me, I chose to deny the truth to myself…
The pain and suffering I caused my family was not worth the perceived ‘satisfaction’ that really did nothing more than waste money, separate me from my family, and eventually destroyed my body.
I did many good things, helped lots of people, and even made a decent living. At 66 years old, I lived a decent life, but there are so many events and milestones I will not be able to share with my loved ones. The moral of this story — don’t be an idiot. If you’re a smoker — quit — now — your life depends on it and those that you love depend upon your life.
Remember, life is good — don’t let it go up in smoke.”
Turner’s daughter, Sarah Huiest, and her siblings were amazed at both their father’s words as well as the overwhelming response from the public.
“Many people, friends, and strangers, have reached out to us regarding his words,” Huiest told TODAY. “For some, it is the words they wish they had heard from loved ones passed — family members that could never admit their smoking led to their illnesses. I heard from someone who said that they may be one of those reached before it’s too late. And I have seen hundreds of times that it has been shared in the hopes of compelling someone to quit.”
It was a running joke and family legend that Turner first picked up one of his mom’s cigarettes at the ripe age of two, and he remembered smoking for the first time at 4 years old.
“He smoked from then until age 24 when he married my mother,” said Huiest.
He sadly picked the bad habit [b]ack up during his business travels to London in the ’90s, though his daughter recalled he never smoked in their home and encouraged them not to follow in his footsteps.
“He knew how much the family did not like it, and he was vocal while we were growing up that smoking was bad and to never start,” she shared.
While Turner was well aware of how dangerous his habit was, his daughter says he never truly tried to quit.
“He discussed trying to quit last summer with my mom (before his diagnosis), but didn’t put forth much effort at all,” said Huiest.
Her mom frequently tried to get him to stop, but he was very strong-willed and decided to go his own way.
Despite some of the poor choices he made while he was alive, Huiest is truly proud of her dad’s courage in penning this important final message that is now helping so many.
“My father prided himself on his many entrepreneurial ventures, various business successes, and world travels,” she said. “Those are the things I expected to read in his obituary. I never expected it to be what it was and it is this single act from his life that I am most proud of. Someone told me he was changing his legacy with this obituary, and I couldn’t agree more.”