Obituary

cemetery

I read your obituary and it was awful, basically just a long list of names, some of people that you hardly ever saw, much less knew you liked strawberry ice cream better than chocolate.  I think an obituary should be more like a poem or a painting, and words should be to the point, about the really important stuff, like: Pop-pop has died and Christie and Brianna and Bailey are going to cry a lot, and again at Christmas when it really hits them, Pop-pop is gone from this beautiful terrible world.  Lots of people are going to say great and true things about Pop-pop but what mattered most was that he was an awesome Pop-pop, dad, husband, friend, and quick sketch artist. He was kind, funny, generous and a surprisingly good singer when he felt like singing, something he did a lot before the war but rarely after. He looked handsome in hats and was smiling more often than not, an accomplishment I think we can all agree is a worthy one that will be greatly missed. So instead of crying, let’s all try to be more smiley for Pop-pop, that’s what he would have wanted. He never liked a fuss but he did enjoy a good IPA so next time you lift one give him a silent tip of the bottle, he’d like that.  John (his mom called him John-John) was a human being like the rest of us, with hardships and failures and secret sorrows. I know he’d tell us now, from the other side, that it is pointless to worry. Find beauty – look for it if you have to – and let love in, all of it. Always be kind, don’t speak in a sharp spiky voice to someone you love, and create art of some kind, show the world how you see it. These are all things he said to me over the years by the way, not just me lecturing you. Can I just say how much I wish I’d inherited his talent to draw. I still have the sketch he made of mom holding me as a newborn, sitting in the visitor’s chair in her hospital room. Mom was too embarrassed to be portraited breastfeeding like Pop-pop wanted, though later she said she wished she had listened to him, that John had been a man ahead of his time, something we should all aspire to be. Mom kept the sketch all her days, and now I have it in the same gold frame, because grammy chose it, and I love having a thing entirely created from their love. If it was up to me, that sketch would be the photo with this obit, and not the one of Pop-pop in uniform, something I am one hundred per cent certain he’d agree with me on but that’s not how these things work. Sunday is the day we’ll gather in the church and sing songs that fly upward like birds, then we’ll drive with our lights on, slowly, slowly to the cemetery and the finality of interment and I just know we’re all going to cry when the vets amongst the townspeople salute the funeral cortege as it rolls past. John didn’t ever talk about the war, except to say that war is our greatest failure as a species. On behalf of the family we welcome anyone who loved John to join us in paying him this final tribute, performing these rituals of long remembering for the dead, in doing so may they stay with us. 

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