Jeff Ward: The Best Obituary Ever

My new hero is Michael "Flathead" Blanchard—a guy who knew how to live!

Please allow me to apologize in advance for going off the Geneva rails here, but the confluence of a Rockford soccer tournament and the perfect news story created a column possibility that I just couldn’t pass up!

(Thank you, Rick Nagel, for allowing me to temporarily digress!)

If you recall, on Friday, we discussed the fact that best defense against this fragile mortal coil is . If we can leave this planet with no regrets and our compatriots willing to celebrate our travails and triumphs, then the Grim Reaper will have truly been cheated.

Wouldn’t you know, the very day after I penned that piece, the story of a Commerce City, CO, man who wrote his own obituary, hit the news wires. And if the measure of a death notice is the degree to which it makes you wish you’d been the deceased’s best friend, then this is the best obituary I’ve ever read.

In fact, Michael “Flathead” Blanchard defined exactly how to not go gentle into that good night, and in doing so, set the bar really high for the rest of us.

After the obligatory formal first sentence, the death notice read, “Weary of reading obituaries noting someone's courageous battle with death, Mike wanted it known that he died as a result of being stubborn, refusing to follow doctors’ orders and raising hell for more than six decades.”

I love it!!!! Clearly, Mr. Blanchard, was a man who neither gave quarter nor took it. There was no whining, no overly flowery soliloquy, and no tears. He didn’t do what the doctor said, and he died. Cause and effect! It’s as simple as that.

Mr. Blanchard went on to describe his cause of death as, “He enjoyed booze, guns, cars and younger women until the day he died.”

There’s certainly something to be said for knowing exactly who you are and, within the bounds of reason, making no apologies for it. Of course, I’m not so sure I’d recommend the “younger women” if you’re married to a wife like mine because getting caught could turn out to be the proximate cause of death.

The obituary continued with, “He was a Republican delegate, life member of the NRA, founder and president of the Dead Cats MC. He loved music.”

I’d be willing to bet that if, instead of going off the religious right deep end, the GOP was a wee bit more willing to follow in Mr. Blanchard’s ample footsteps, they’d win a heck of a lot more elections.

Flathead went on to list his surviving family members, including an ex-wife (that one’s not hard to understand), his son Chopper, who turned out to be a cat, and his aunt Cynthia, whom he described as “his favorite.”

He lamented, or celebrated—I’m not quite sure which—that most of his childhood friends turned out to be “criminals, prostitutes and/or Democrats” and I’m sure Mr. Blanchard considered the latter to be the most egregious.

Then he suggested that someone named Baba Yaga could “kiss his butt.” Now, that’s the way to get the last word!

And lastly, I love this part too, he asked his friends and family to “… stop by and re-tell the stories he can no longer tell. As the celebration will contain adult material, we respectfully ask that no children under 18 attend.”

An X-rated memorial service! Why didn’t I think of that!

Mike, his real son and an obvious master of understatement, told a Denver Post reporter that, “He lived every minute to its fullest and then some.”

As you might imagine, the online obituary guestbook currently boasts more than 500 signatures and final thoughts from folks all over the world. What a way to go! Well done, Mr. Blanchard!

It’s funny, I’ve always told my friends and family that when it’s my time, I want my casket to be the bar and the drinks will, literally, be on me. And everyone gets a big black Sharpie so their final thoughts can be buried right along with yours truly.

Trust me, just like my newest hero, I will be writing my own obituary.

But since turn about is fair play and psychologists say that authoring your own obituary is a great way to take stock of your life, I’m going to challenge all of you to do some writing, for once. But we’ll make it fun. I don’t want to see what your obituary should say, I want to see what you’d like it to say.

A Patch comment is the perfect amount of space. I suggest you get started!

Dennis C. Ryan April 23, 2012 at 12:42 PM
"Flathead" must have known: if you want it done right, do it yourself. That's why he wrote his own obituary. There's a lesson there for all of us. Having ridden cycles since age twenty, I have known many guys like "Flathead" who live life to the fullest. Although I've slowed down some, I wouldn't trade by life experiences with anyone. Good or bad, they made me who I am.
Jeff Ward April 23, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Denny, You're still more on the ball than me! I couldn't tell the difference between the Elgin Township Republican Chairman and the Kane County Republican Chairman! Jeff
robert poznanski April 23, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Having led a great life myself (probably not a extreme as mister "Flathead"(got to wonder what event, got him that name!) but one of many wonderful memories,and many personal accomplishments, its kind of holds a personal allure,to write one's own obituary, but it also kind of reflects upon one's own inflated ego,to want to do so! Better, to let some one who you touch, in some way, or another, to author this, and just go to your reward (or not) knowing that, you did it all,( mostly) "your way!" Got to admit, he certainly wasn't going "quietly!"
Jeff Ward April 23, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Robert, Apparently he got that nickname for his love of and work on flathead engines! Jeff
Colin C. April 23, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I've known a number of "flatheads" in my life; people who take all that they can from life except maybe responsibility. I can picture Mr. Blanchard stoutly defending his "personal rights" including, for example, the right to ride his motorcycle without a helmet and railing against "Obamacare's" mandate that he buy health insurance. Of course, when he stacks it in and requires tens of thousands of dollars in care for head trauma we get the "right" to pay for it. Yeah, we all know the self absorbed, self aggrandizing, people who live high, wild, and reckless lives, to hell with everyone else. I don't see much to admire there. If you want to read a truly wonderful obituary try Mary Bencini's. Now there is a person and a life truly worth admiring. As for me, I'll let someone else write my obit. All I wish for is the ability, in that last minute before I shuffle off, to say to myself, "Well, it was a pretty good adventure. I lived, loved, was loved, and did some good along the way. It mattered that I lived." That's enough.


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