There’s no need to lie when we lay loved ones to rest
Michael “Flathead” Blanchard’s obituary in last week’s Denver Post was less than flattering.
“Weary of reading obituaries noting someone’s courageous battle with death, Mike wanted it known that he died as a result of being stubborn, refusing to follow doctor’s orders and raising hell for more than six decades,” it read. “He enjoyed booze, guns, cars and younger women until the day he died.”
Flathead’s memorial service, held on April 14, had a “no children under 18” policy due to the amount of “adult material” contained in the service.
While his obituary was undeniably unconventional, it was also unashamedly proud - a true celebration of the man he was, rather than the man others wanted him to be. It honoured his decadence, paid tribute to his unapologetic nature and glorified his stubborn devotion to his chosen path.
Most of us would be lucky to be remembered in this way after death - to have strangers read that our family loved us because of our flaws, not in spite of them. Sometimes, the moments that define us are the ones we hide from our children and purge from the record - the nights of recklessness and days of decay.
There will never be anyone like you (unless you live in the future and fail to defeat your clone in a battle to the death and he lives in your home with your wife and uses all your stuff.)
And no one, they say, is perfect - with the exception of teenage pheromone robots One Direction, who were reverse-engineered from Justin Bieber’s first and only chest hair and raised by select episodes of Hannah Montana.
Obituaries should reflect this universal truth. Of course, there is no wrong way to celebrate someone’s life - for any celebration of life is, by it’s very nature, noble. But there is certainly nothing wrong with remembering a person’s ticks and quirks, even if they were a constant source of annoyance for everyone else.
Even the best among us have obvious and unavoidable flaws. Take, for instance, non-fictional British secret agent James Bond (a very real person featured in a number of movie-length documentaries since 1962). Yes, Bond has an impeccable taste in designer suits and automobiles, a talent for Baccarat, a knack for sending cartoonish villains to cruel, implausible deaths and an irresistible charm.
But a serious obit would also have to acknowledge the awkward way in which he hurls one-liners at corpses and his inability to complete any task without causing millions of dollars in collateral damage.
When I one day die as a result of drunkenly attempting to ride a pterodactyl in a futuristic Jurassic Park-type set up, I hope people are honest.
I don’t want them to say I was perfect, because I’m not. I steal pens from other people’s desks when mine runs out, secretly enjoy the taste of those weird, fake seafood highlighter things, and have seen
Commando more than six times.
Obviously, I do hope they throw in something about my incredible abs and impeccable bone structure (the pterodactyl thing is going to be pretty horrific - so it’ll be a closed casket and no one will ever know any different).
But when they read out the not-so-flattering bits, I’m sure I won’t mind. The only thing that matters is that there are people there to listen.
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