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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, March 2

Gapers Block

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My grandmother and aunt, in addition to being grotesquely overweight and far too fond of Hawaiian prints, were packrats. Really severe packrats. So much so that my grandmother actually added a room on to her home so she could store added shit. And when my aunt moved out of her home, the yard sale lasted weeks.

What were they saving? Everything. But what gave me the most pause was that they saved the obituaries (which they fondly called "obits"). And why? "Because we want to know who died," they'd say. But once you know, they're still dead, I'd counter to myself.

I still wonder about people who cruise the obits. Why? What are you looking for? A reminder that life is fleeting? Why not just think about the coming winter or consider all the styles that have come in and out of fashion since your birth?

But beyond the concept of obits, it's their format that is puzzling.

Olvera Sr., Alfredo age 79, beloved husband of Trina, devoted father of Alfredo Jr., Jessie, Gloria, Steven (Hortencia), Susan (Phil) Hernandez, Kathleen (John) Vargas and the late Mary Ellen, cherished grandfather of 15 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. Funeral Saturday, 9 a.m. from Michael Coletta Sons Funeral Home, 544 W. 31st St., Chicago (formerly Blake-Lamb/Bridgport Funeral Home), to Notre Dame de Chicago Church Mass 10 a.m. Interment Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Visitation Friday, 2 to 9 p.m. Info., 312-000-0000. (Chicago Sun-Times)

This disturbs me, this whitewashing of the deceased's personality. Surely, not everyone who dies is beloved and cherished. Perhaps the distinguished Mr. Olvera was, and if so, then I extend my condolences to his grieving family.

But does the truth have a home in the obit? And whose truth? Will my father's obit say "workaholic, rageaholic, alcoholic?" It will if I write it. And if he does, will it say "estranged from his ungrateful bitch daughter"? Who knows.

In the past week or two, Jane Buffett, a Madison, WI-area woman, died and her husband used her obit to persuade readers to vote for John Kerry, because that's what Jane wanted. And when many pissed-off readers demanded why the paper would have allowed such a thing, the paper replied that since obits are paid for by the family, they usually go ahead with what is submitted, but they do use some discretion. And it seemed more important to Mrs. Buffett that her political wishes live on than whether or not she was beloved.

But, really, don't we all want to be cherished, called beloved?

La Salle Sr., Ernest J. beloved husband of the late Josephine (nee Stocco), loving father of Ernest Jr. (Therese), Peter (Pamela), Michael and John, proud grandfather of five, great-grandfather of four, fond brother and best friend of Alfred [GB emphasis]. Funeral Saturday, 9 a.m., from the Original Rago Brothers Norridge Funeral Chapels, 7751 W. Irving. Mass 10 a.m., at St. Celestine Church, 3020 N. 76th Ct. (Elmwood Pk.). Interment All Saints Cemetery. 773-000-0000. Visitation Friday, 3 to 9 p.m. Donation may be made in his name to Cancer Research. (Chicago Sun-Times)

I love this obit because of the "best friend of Alfred" bit. Because how many of us are just lost children, not close to the families of our childhood, but rather kin to those who never shared our mother's womb, but who now share our lives? Maybe as you age -- and thankfully (?) most obits feature the elderly -- you have fewer close friends and spend more time with family. But I'd like to see acknowledgment that friendships, and not just blood bonds, extend past death.

Metropulos, Christ N. age 91, cherished husband of Irene (nee Mays), together for 63 years was surrounded by his family when he was called home to Heaven on October 6, 2004. Christ was born in Chicago and raised in Kerassia Greece and returned to Chicago at the age of 16. A hard working man, he ran a family grocery store on the Southside of Chicago. After marrying Irene in Des Moines, IA, he brought his bride back to Chicago where they loving raised five children. As a member of the teamsters union, he was success bakery salesman in the Chicago Loop until retirement. He was a 53 years Masonic member of the Hellenic Lodge No. 1084 and he was a lifetime member of St. John's Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines. Christ will be remembered not only for his long passion for gardening, but was an avid sportsman who loved to bowl golf and fish. His legacy and love for those passions lives on as he shared and taught his talents to many. He and Irene spent 20 years of retirement in Florida and they have since divided thier time between family in South Park, PA, and Mokena, IL. He was a treasured and devoted father to Nick, Ester (Bob) Dieringer, Dean (Arlene) Metroplus, Christine and the late Thomas, a loving grandfather to Chris (Kelli-Ann), Rose (Robert) Ashby, Nicole, Jim (Laura) Dieringer, Cindy Dieringer, Dr. Robert Dieringer, Ralph (Halina Granat) Dieringer, Micahel (Wilda), Denise (Brian) Murray, Mark and Deanna, a loving Papou to 18 great-grandchildren, Alexandra, Tommy, Gracie, Joey, Bobby, Ryan, Amanda, Morghan, Michael, Johhny, Vickie, Veronica, Michayla, Meredith, Dena, Alicia, Stephanie, Brianna and a special uncle to many nieces and nephews. Visitation Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, 2 to 8 p.m., at Kurtz Memorial Chapel, 102 E. Francis Rd., New Lenox. Services will start at 10 a.m., Saturday, October 9, 2004, at St. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Palos Hills, IL. Interment will take place at Elmwood Cemetery, in River Grove. Memorials to the Palos Community Hospital Hospice or the American Cancer Society. Info: 815-000-0000 (Chicago Sun-Times)

This obit tells us more about the dead guy than just that he'll be missed. I picture the very senior Mr. Christ Metropulos standing creek side in Heaven, clutching a fishing pole in his hand, and wondering where he can get some good baklava. We get a good sense of who he was: family man, Teamster, Mason, loving papou, bowler, worker, Greek.

What would you want your obituary to say?

My boyfriend says it's really creepy to try to write your own obituary. And I agreed, but said I was going to do it anyway. So I thought about what could say, but I just couldn't bring myself to write it. Not now.

But what would I want it to include? That I tried to be a good friend. That sometimes I failed. That sometimes I was scared. That I believed myself funny, and sometimes others agreed. That I gave good gifts. That I threw good parties. That I complained too much. That I was beloved by cats everywhere. That I made lovely lemon curd. That I wanted more. That I wished I could have been better. That in the end, I was happy.

And I hope that when my obit gets written for real, that it's true, false, funny, and most of all, memorable.

Ad of the Week:

This is almost gag-worthy. But wouldn't you want this to be about your family?

RAVE - To my wife & kids

V- You don't know how awesome you are! I truely love everything about you. You are are great mother of our kids, you work your ass off and are great at what you do (working full time making nice cash). you are drop dead gorgeous, even more so after 10 years of marriage. You love sex as much as I do if not more. You are my best friend. I can not imagine myself without you. I will continue to adore you and lavish you with surprises. Paris for New Years w/ no kids is next!

E- My first. You have changed my life from the start. You are such a good kid. I can't believe you are part of me. I will protect and love you forever. I know I spoil you but I cannot help it. You are very intelligent and you will go far. I will do everything I can to make your dreams come true. High five!

W- Where did all of your energy come from? It is like having a raccoon in the house. I love your toughness, your hugs and your trying to get into things when you think no one is watching. Such a rascal. You as well are very intelligent. The world is your oyster and I'll be there to help you conquer. I can't wait until you can mow the lawn. Nite-nite!

I love you all more than words can express and I am the most fortunate man in the world!!!!! I'll be home for dinner! (Craig's List)

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About the Author(s)

Shylo loves ironing, baking, and dancing naked. She dreams of being a naughty housewife. Let her know what you think about Public Notice at .

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