Thursday, October 22, 2015

Inch Eighty-Eight: Obituary

I wrote last week about my brother, who was rapidly coming to the end of his days. Dale died Tuesday night, after two long days of slipping in and out of consciousness. Services are this weekend.

Before dying, my brother penned his own obituary. It is currently playing on Facebook to rave reviews. This week he is my guest writer, a prospect that would have amused him to no end. I don't often say this, but I wish I had written this:

Marvin Dale Nelson, Jr. (September 19, 1953 – October 20, 2015) 

All of this is true, more or less. One of the things about liver cancer (apart from it cutting my life down to a fraction, which sucks) is it gives me a small window of time to write my own send off. I won't bore you with statistics but there are a few things you need to know or else funeral homes and newspapers think somebody dropped the ball and start finger pointing. I was born September 19, 1953 and given the handle Marvin Dale Nelson Jr. My dad, Marvin Dale Nelson, Sr., is the first edition. My mom, Shirley (Skatzes) issued four more kids, busy woman that she was. After me came Heather, who died in infancy, April (married to Warren Hyer, sons Ben and Sam Sanchez), Michel (married to Kate, children Mike Jr., Tim and Meg) and finally Mark (married to Jackie, children Matt and Lizzie). There are also two aunts surviving me, Virginia (Ginger) Skatzes and Gail Nelson Rubinowski, as well as numerous cousins of every degree. But this really isn't about them.

I appreciated my parents’ love for me and I loved them in return. In my younger and more vulnerable years, my dad gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. Along the way, I learned to swim. I graduated from Delaware Hayes High School in 1971, setting records on the swim team, got a scholarship and spent a year at Kalamazoo College in higher education. That wasn't for me.

I got married as people tend to do. Of that era, the less said the better. I have no children of my own, but I would have liked that.

Calendar pages turned and months turned to years. I found a calling as a mechanic and I got to see how things work and how I could make them work. It was satisfying to some degree and filled a large chunk of my life. I worked with many people in many places. A lot of them I liked, others not so much. No regrets here, but to do it over I would get that college degree just for the options.
Throughout my life I made friendships to last forever. One in particular was Sally Blum. She always had my back and I had hers. What more does one need? Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board and I am no different. I loved to travel, a gift from my dad. Now that you are reading this, I am evidently free to hitchhike the galaxy as soon as the paperwork is completed. So until you see me swinging on a star, remember, a story has no beginning or end—one arbitrarily chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. Now my story begins again.

There will be a Celebration of Life on Sunday, October 25, 2015, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 28 East William Street, Delaware, Ohio. Friends will be received at 1:30 p.m., service will start at 2:30 p.m., and a reception will immediately follow at the church. All arrangements are by Snyder-Rodman Funeral Center; burial will be private. Flowers may be sent; donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the American Cancer Society or Hospice of Central Ohio.


Jenny Woolf said...

What a beautiful and vivid testament. I didn't know your brother but I feel as if I've met him now.

Darla said...

Beautiful words. Writing must run in your family. So sorry for your loss April, you brother must have been a special man.