The Whole Family Gathered to Write Dad’s Obituary — Including Dad
As our father slowly succumbed to ALS, we squabbled over which details to include in his farewell. And that’s when we realized we were talking like he was already gone.
Illustrations by Ryan Johnson
We wrote Dad’s obituary under the gazebo as a family: bickering, chewing ice, eating cold Domino’s pizza and passing my MacBook back and forth over Dad in his electric wheelchair.
Outside the dim caverns of our house, here in the backyard, it was still summer, eighty degrees and pleasant in the shade. The pool was sloshing with golden dog hair and fallen raspberries, the patio furniture covered in bird poop and little cottonwood pods that stuck to my socks when I limped inside to flush a gallon of Dad’s warm urine down the toilet. We were way past modesty.
My little sister Chelsea, the baby of the family at seventeen, danced around the table in a bikini and a fuzzy pink cover-up, crushing the can of Coke in her hand as she took swigs. Dad was tan-limbed from all our walks and sweaty, his blue eyes clear and alert, his lips chapped. Lou Gehrig’s disease had wasted away the muscles in his chest and shoulders, made quick work of his diaphragm, hands, arms and l…