Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not How I'd Want to be Remembered

Have you ever done one of those writing/self-awareness excercises where you write your own obituary or eulogy? I've tried, but never gotten far -- I've never been able to think of anything to say. I doubt that Dolores Aguilar would have written something like this:

Dolores Aguilar
1929 – Aug. 7 2008

Dolores Aguilar, born in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Raymond, her son, Paul Jr., and daughter, Ruby.

She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayd, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.

Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope that she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.

This was really and truly in the Times-Herald Napa/Sonoma (in print: the online version has been pulled). I heard it on the radio Tuesday, but found some online references, along with a verification of accuracy.

This has made me think of several things besides what my obit would sound like. I wonder if Dolores would have been a nicer person if she knew her family would publish an obit like that? I wonder if I should write mine now and stick it in an envelope with my will?

Deep down, I kind of love this obituary, because I appreciate the honesty. If I knew Dolores, and she was as awful as this makes her sound, a flowery obit would make me a little nauseous. Yes, gloss over the kind of small character flaws we all have (please!), and focus on the major portion. I truthfully wouldn't wish this obit on anyone, but understand that someone can be so nasty that there is just nothing nice to say.

Random musings, kind of related
In the cemetery where my folks and paternal grandparents (and great grandparents) are buried, not far from the family plot, there is a shrine to a woman named Peg (probably Margaret; I don't remember). It's a large stone, with a line drawing of her face lasered into it. The entire area is surrounded by statuary, vases, etc. Funny thing? My dad, as we witnessed a "drive by" visit* to her grave, revealed that she was a hateful woman whose children were barely speaking to her at the end of her life. Now that she's gone, they've elevated her to sainthood.

At the end of the row from the family plot and across the aisle is an unmarked grave. The gentleman who rests there has been gone ten years or more, but his children can't agree on who will pay for the stone, so there isn't one. According to the sexton (also via my dad), he was actually a nice guy who happened to raise greedy kids. Whenever a storm blows the displays around, the sexton moves one to that grave.

*Frequently done there, if the site is close to one of the "roads."

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