Obituaries are tricky things. Generally, they extol the merits and noble struggles of the deceased, and leave out other less virtuous bits. My parents’ obituaries are the perfect example: Both obituaries left out a particularly rough patch in their lives (yes, they wrote their own), and while that chapter in their history was the reason so many otherwise wonderful events came to pass in their lives—ones which they did include in their obits—we decided to honor their wish by not rewriting what they wrote and left out that piece of their story. To those who knew them well, it was a blatant omission. Some understood the reason, while others didn’t, not understanding what the big deal was in the first place. After all, it was just one of those things in life that happens to many, many people along the way. But to my folks it was something they just assume everyone would forget.
I feel sorry for people who have to write an obit for someone nobody ever liked. You could go the route the person took in one of my examples pictured, of course, but generally speaking, folks want to take a kinder, gentler tact. But how to do it? For fun, let’s take fictional character Michael Corleone of “The Godfather” fame, which the American Institute of Film recognizes as the “11th most iconic villain in film history” (Wikipedia).
“Michael Corleone was born in New York to Sicilian parents, attended college, served his country with honor and distinction in World War II. He married twice, his first wife tragically killed in a car accident shortly after they wed. He has two children by his second wife. After the death of his eldest brother and father, he took over the family import/export and hospitality businesses until his retirement in 1980. In his later years he spent much of his time with charity work, primarily on behalf of the Vatican. The Holy See named him a Commander of the Order of Saint Sebastian for his good works. A charismatic community leader, Mr. Corleone was a deeply committed business and family man, relentlessly driven to honor and defend that which held dear.”
Yes, there are some accurate facts about the man’s life there, but it most certainly is not the story of Michael Corleone. No one who reads that would ever get the sense of his ruthlessness, though maybe some of the regret in the end. Same goes for most obituaries you read, for they are typically written by those who honored, loved and respected the deceased. In the end, we try to only remember the good, for as the saying goes, “It is not good to speak ill of the dead.”
[P.S.To the WP Prompt folks: Your prompts usually reflect a little more effort to inspire. I bet you would have received a less judgmental response to this prompt if there had been some time taken to rework it. For example: “How do you wish to be remembered? Write your obituary. Or, write an obituary for a favorite fictional character, or someone or thing that had an impact on your life, or for something no longer in use (think Vege-o-matic)].
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In Loving Memory.”