Thoughts on an Obit

I read the following obituary two mornings ago and she has been on my mind ever since.

She means something to me because I once knew this person way back when we were just kids while we were all trying on different identities as children do.

And it doesn’t matter that I haven’t spoken to her in all these years. Not since 1969 when we were neighbors and schoolmates from 1966 to 1969.

She was tall, cute, had the latest hairstyle and dressed straight out of the fashion magazines: colorful polka dot dresses, super mini-skirts, knee high black boots, that kind of thing; all very mod ‘60s London.

She was more than a bit stuck up. She loved to tease me as if I didn’t deserve to breathe the same rarefied air as she. But they lived in a nice big Victorian house on the corner while we lived in a much smaller house on a not so nice street that was orthogonal to hers.

The obit read:

Mary Smith, 61, peacefully passed away at her home in Oakdale, Calif., on Friday, June 01, 2016.

Born on Sept. 21, 1955, in Traverse City, Mary was a creative person and had a passion for fiber art.

Mary and her fiancé, Doug Paterson, enjoyed snow skiing, motorcycle and bicycle riding, traveling the West Coast by RV and hanging with family and friends. Of all of Mary’s many travels, her favorite place was Yosemite.

She is survived by her fiance, Doug Paterson; son, David Maxwell; son, Richard Maxwell; brother, Steve and wife Mary Smith; niece, Anna Smith; sister, Sandy Smith; the Paterson family; and companion dog, Blacky.

A celebration of life will be open to family and friends on Sunday, June 26, about 1 p.m. at David and Lynda’s Paterson’s home, 1006 Spring Road, Traverse City, Michigan.

Memorial donations can be made to the American Cancer Society or Little Traverse Bay Humane Society.

Doesn’t that just about make you want to cry? I mean that’s not much to say about 61 years of living. Damn. Either whoever wrote the obit should be taken out and given a severe beating for supreme laziness in mishandling the responsibly of singing the song of someone’s life or worse, the obit was spot on,  sadly reflecting a wasted life.

Be that as it may, it was another one of those obits of childhood chums that collectively weigh heavy on me as chains around my heart.

In my obit I want someone to write the honest unblemished truth.

Something like – As a child he was an unrepentant savage: a killer of all creatures great and small and a prodigious and relentless fistfighter.  He didn’t like to bathe and preferred books to exclusion of all else with possible exception of the company of his dog or that of his favorite grandfather.

He quickly discovered girls and seduction became his great passion to where he became quite accomplished at charming many a young lady out of their undergarments.

After high school he stayed on the same path after stupidly discovering the pleasure of drink mixed well with hot beach days and cool club nights.  Luckily he ran out of road, the brain-numbing menial jobs finally cancelling out whatever pleasure remained in chasing such a hedonistic lifestyle. So once again, he leapt back into the arms of higher education but that time to actually  get an education that meant something.

As an adult he took many risks  – often failing – asking the hard questions to which the answers learned were as experientially difficult as they were pragmatically useless. And lastly, that he was the father of one incredible child to which he often said ‘was the best thing I ever did in my life.’

And he didn’t die peacefully. He died as he lived with a proverbial gun in each hand taking a hail of gunfire while making a dash for the [next] door.

PS – The names, dates, and towns in Mary’s obit have been slightly changed.


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