Don’t you just love a good obituary?
The kind that is so honest and raw, you know the deceased would be rolling over in the grave from shaking with laughter.
I read one last week on Facebook. You can tell from the first paragraph why it became a viral sensation:
“Margaret Marilyn DeAdder, professional clipper of coupons, baker of cookies, terror behind the wheel, champion of the underdog, ruthless card player, and self-described Queen Bitch, died on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.” She was 78.
The obit ran in the Chronicle Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, along with a photo of her as a young woman smoking a pipe. Her son, Michael, wrote it. He’s an editorial cartoonist for the paper. His mom, who went by Marilyn, died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Marilyn loved all children who weren’t her own and loved her own children relative to how clean-shaven they were. She excelled at giving the finger, taking no s--- and laughing at jokes, preferably in the shade of blue. She did not excel at suffering fools, hiding her disdain, and putting her car in reverse. … Trained as a hairdresser before she was married, she was always doing somebody’s hair in her kitchen, so much so her kitchen smelled of baking and perm solution.”
If it were up to me, the scents of a person’s life would be included in every obituary. I can still smell my mom’s nut roll baking and the sawdust in my dad’s garage.
“Marilyn had a busy life, but no matter what she was doing she always made time to run her kids’ lives as well. Her lifelong hobbies included painting, quilting, baking, gardening, hiking and arson.”
What a hoot. Even as Michael mourned her loss, he celebrated her joy.
“Marilyn loved tea and toast. The one thing she loved more than tea and toast was reheated tea and toast. She reheated tea by simply turning on the burner, often forgetting about it. She burned many a teapot and caused smoke damage countless times, leaving her kids with the impression that fanning the smoke alarm was a step in brewing tea.”
I love that he celebrated her flaws. So many of us, myself included, feel like we have to keep improving ourselves to be perfect parents and spouses.
“Marilyn is survived by her three ungrateful sons, Michael (Gail), Paul and David (Trudy), whose names she never got completely right, and whose jokes she didn’t completely understand.”
My mom never quite got our names right, even before Alzheimer’s. She had 11 kids. I arrived after Therese, Joan, Mike and Mary, so she often called me Marygina.
With COVID-19, the loss of a funeral is profound. Michael told one podcaster, “This obituary is her funeral. It’s kind of all we have.”
“Marilyn, ever the penny-pincher, decided to leave this world on the day Moncton went into red-alert, her sons believe, to avoid paying for a funeral. But, on the other hand, she always said that she didn’t want a funeral, she wanted an Irish wake. She didn’t want everybody moping around, she wanted a party. Marilyn will get her Celebration of Life when COVID-19 is over. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you do something nice for somebody else unexpectedly, and without explanation.”
So do something nice. Love people as is, flaws and all. And celebrate them now, all of them, quirks and all, while you still have them.
Last week, my friend, Barbie, who recently planned the funeral of a dear friend, asked this question on Facebook: “What stories would you tell at my funeral? I want to hear some of them while I’m alive.”
Barbie, who is 53, was married at 20 and became a widow at 39.
“When you meet Barbie for the first time, she makes you feel like you have known each other your whole lives.”
“This girl would do snow angels in her bikini.” Which she does every first snowfall.
“How about a 60 mph ride thru the mountains in a van with a hundred stuffed animals on the dashboard and a windshield that needed to be cleaned a year ago.”
“She was a master of living every day to the fullest. She loved the world and the people in it. Empowering and loving people were her love language.”
The lives we’re living now, that’s what makes up the stories people will not only tell, but remember for the rest of their lives.
Give them good material.