Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hanging out to dry

I've been asked to help draft my brother's obituary. My family has a message board (we were way cool, before blogland ever was, ha ha so there, neener neener neener) that we use to keep in touch. I'm an emotional wreck, but I made a first attempt. I put it out there for the family's scrutiny. It went something like this:

1/12/71 – 10/27/05. Like a comet blazing through the night sky, P2’s life, though short, burned brightly with passion, faith, and love. He set for himself unattainable standards, which he followed with unstoppable drive and determination, fueled by his keen intellect and clever wit. P2 lived to love and be loved, and to do his very best. He gave it his all. Through the eyes of his family he was one to always share what he had, to keep the family in order; he was always de la moda, a faithful brother, a mechanic extraordinaire, smart, sharp witted, and an all around good guy. He was selfless, a loving father, and a great cook. He is survived by daughters J, K, and C, son M, granddaughter M, brothers T1, T2, P1, J1, and J2, sisters S1, S2, and C, mother P, father H, and (ex) wife L.

No posts. No replies. No comments. Nothing but Silence. I'm left hanging, with this girly emotional outpouring that I can't take back or delete. So I make another attempt. This time more concise, matter of fact, less emotional.

1/12/71 – 10/27/05
P2, born and raised in (God's Country), was a man of passion and intellect with a great love for his family, the outdoors, food and music. P2 died unexpectedly while living in Colorado Springs. P2 was a natural leader, with a proficiency for chemistry and mechanics. He served his country as an ELT on the US Navy submarine Pintado. P2’s memory will live on in the hearts of his family and friends.


Again, nothing. Silence. Inside I am screaming. Screaming. How can I be the only one putting words out there for the family to consider, and yet they say nothing. Are they offended? Do I sound like a stammering fool? Have I mocked his life? I didn't mean to. Have I romaniticized his life? I didn't mean to. What have I done? Why do they not say anything?

I've never written an obit before. I've barely ever read one. I trolled around with the help of Google and found some examples and tidbits and ideas. The generic newspaper obit is too boring and dry. Just a resume for the dead. Name, Age, COD, Job History, Family History, blah blah blah. Too impersonal. Too many shallow angles from which to draw judgemental conclusions. And to what end? What is the point of that information? What good does it serve? I. Don't. Like. It. Who the hell is an obit for, anyway? The general public? Or people who care. I think it should be for people who care. So I tried again.

1/12/71 – 10/27/05

P2, born and raised in (God's Country), was a man of passion and intellect with a great love for his family, the outdoors, food and music.

P2 was a natural leader, with a penchant for cooking, chemistry and mechanics. He served his country during the 1990s as an ELT on the US Navy submarine Pintado.

P2 developed a lifelong friendship with his first child J, born of N and adopted to the A's in 1986. In 1994 he married L and stepped in as a father figure to K (born 1992); C was born in 1996, followed by M in 2000. The marriage ended in divorce early in 2005.

Always an excellent cook and lover of good food, P2 had entrepreneurial dreams of becoming a restaurateur and chef. P2 had a discriminating palate and enjoyed fine wines and micro-brews, but he also kept a place for his good friends Jack and Jose.

Most recently residing in Colorado Springs, in a show of eccentricity and necessity coupled with a sense of humor and frugality, P2 announced earlier this year that his new home address was “The North Face of Mount Gibbler, Uncompahgre National Forest, Under the Blue Tarp Lean-To.”

Whether hunting, fishing, biking, playing golf, or snowboarding, P2 was at his best when able to enjoy the outdoors, especially in the company of his brothers, sisters, and children.

P2 always had a flair for the dramatic, and enjoyed many genres of music, from Broadway to Punk Rock. His eclectic sense of style mirrored his taste in music. He could just as easily look as though he stepped from the cover of GQ magazine, as from the pages of Rolling Stone.

P2 was deeply spiritual; a seeker of “Truth, with a Capital T.” He wanted little more than to love and be loved. He set for himself unattainable standards, and he gave it his all. He fought the good fight. He finished his course.

P2 is survived by daughters J, K, and C, son M, granddaughter M, brothers T1, T2, P1, J1, and J2, sisters S1, S2, and C, mother P, and father H.

P2 wrestled with bipolar disorder. His memory will live on in the hearts of his family and friends.

A small memorial celebration will take place on November 19, 2005 in (God's Country). For information, please call xxx-xxx-xxxx.

I await feedback from my family. I am too tired to scream anymore. I hope they will finally step in and help me.

5 Comments:

Blogger Susie Sunshine said...

They are all wonderful.
Writing an obituary for a loved one who died suddenly is an exercise in emotional exasperation. You want to capture and remind people of what made them special while they were alive and not dwell on the details of how they died while not sounding overly dramatic or overwrought. However, you are in shock and everything is overwrought and dramatic and it's hard to avoid and you don't want to mess it up and you can't sleep because this needs to be perfect and no one can read it without bawling so your proofreader/critics/family members are useless.

I was the obit writer three years ago. My guess is that everyone is having a hard time reading any of them.
In our situation, the funeral director was a source of strength and calmness amidst the chaos of high emotions. He provided good tips with his familiarity of obit. writing. I hope your family has a good funeral director to help during this time. Ours was our rock long after the funeral.

I am thinking of you.

4:34 AM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger blackbird said...

I think you have done well, and done well by him.
Perhaps you could turn your thinking around and have some satisfaction in having written three excellent versions of him -- for YOU.

It cannot matter anymore what anyone but you thinks...

6:43 AM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

they are all three lovely. my guess would be that your family is overwhelmed, maybe feeling emotionally fragile right now -- but i hope one or some of them gives you some feedback. if only for the support and commiseration. because, clearly, writing them was cathartic and a step on the road to healing, for you.

thinking of you.

4:20 PM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger Suse said...

They are all beautiful.

I second what the others are saying ... your family are probably finding them all tough to read at this time.

I hope it helped to write them.

7:40 PM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger yaya said...

What a wonderful person you are

3:36 AM, November 13, 2005  

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