Obits We Love: A Tribute to a Mother’s Sense of Humor

Posted by Gayle Bennett

Obituaries can be difficult to write. After all, one is tasked with the rather daunting task of summing up a person’s lifetime achievements during an emotional time. As we come across them, we’ll highlight obits that we think paint a particularly good—and authentic—picture of a loved one.

After Mary Stocks passed away, her children had a good laugh about her will. The 94-year-old wanted her children to take back all the gifts they ever gave to her—the 12-year-old car, the 20-year-old toaster oven, you name it.

As the siblings laughed, Mary’s son, Sandy, knew that he wanted to include this in Mary’s obituary—and more to the point, he wanted to showcase his mother’s enduring sense of humor.

“Everything I could think of about my mother was funny. I didn’t want to write a really boring obituary,” Sandy said in an interview with TODAY.com. “I did it more for my family, so they would have something to remember her that would be fun.”

“She left behind a hell of a lot of stuff to her daughter and sons who have no idea what to do with it,” Sandy wrote in the obituary. “So if you're looking for 2 extremely large TV's from the 90s, a large ceramic stork (we think) umbrella/cane stand, a toaster oven (slightly used) or even a 2001 Oldsmobile with a spoiler (she loved putting the pedal to the metal), with only 71,000 kilometers and 1,000 tools that we aren't sure what they're used for … wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine.”

This obituary is funny, which helped make it a viral sensation, but the real key was that it was authentic. It was fitting tribute to a woman who knew “more curse words than most people learned in a lifetime” and held on to her sense of humor until the end. No small feat, either of those!

A good obituary doesn’t need to be hilarious … or serious … or any other adjective. Write from the heart, and it’s hard to go wrong.

By Gayle Bennett

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