Most people think of obituaries as sad and solemn things.
When Jean Lahm’s father died, she knew that she had to write an obituary for him that would describe his life. He loved to laugh and had a quirky personality, and she wanted everyone to remember those things about him.
She knew she had to make his obituary funny and memorable.
“Terry Wayne Ward, age 71, of DeMotte, IN, escaped this mortal realm on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, leaving behind 32 jars of Miracle Whip, 17 boxes of Hamburger Helper and multitudes of other random items that would prove helpful in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
“Terry is survived by his overly-patient and accepting wife Kathy, who was the love of his life (a fact she gladly accepted sympathy for during their 48 years of marriage). He is also survived by daughters Rebecca (William) Hines and Jean (Jeff) Lahm; sister, Linda; brother, Phil; grandchildren: Alexander and Hannah Hines (The Mesopotamians), Daphne and Erin Pistello (The Daffer and Peanut), Brendan and Owen Lahm (Phineas and Ferb) and Tessa McMurry (Smiley).
“He is preceded in death by his parents Paul and Bernice Ward, daughter Laura Pistello, grandson Vincent Pistello, brother Kenneth Ward, a 1972 Rambler and a hip.
“Terry graduated from Thornridge High School in South Holland, IL, where only three of his teachers took an early retirement after having had him as a student. He met the love of his life, Kathy, by telling her he was a lineman – he didn’t specify early on that he was a lineman for the phone company, not the NFL. Still, Kathy and Terry wed in the fall of 1969, perfectly between the Summer of Love and the Winter of Regret.
“Terry volunteered his service in the United States Army and was an active combat Veteran in the Viet Nam War.
“He retired from AT&T (formerly Ameritech, formerly formerly Indiana Bell) after 39 years of begrudging service, where he accumulated roughly 3,000 rolls of black electrical tape during the course of his career (which he used for everything from open wounds to ‘Don’t use this button’ covers).
“He enjoyed many, many things. Among those things were hunting, fishing, golfing, snorkeling, ABBA, hiking Turkey Run, chopping wood, shooting guns, Bed Bath & Beyond, starlight mints, cold beer, free beer, The History Channel, CCR, war movies, discussing who makes the best pizza, The Chicago White Sox, old Buicks, and above all, his family.
“He was a renowned distributor of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches to his grandchildren. He also turned on programs such as “Phineas and Ferb” for his grand-youngins, usually when they were actually there.
“He despised ‘uppity foods’ like hummus, which his family lovingly called ‘bean dip’ for his benefit, which he loved consequently. He couldn’t give a damn about most material things, and automobiles were never to be purchased new. He never owned a personal cell phone and he had zero working knowledge of the Kardashians.
“Terry died knowing that The Blues Brothers was the best movie ever, (young) Clint Eastwood was the baddest-ass man on the planet, and hot sauce can be added to absolutely any food.
“Tremendous and heartfelt thanks go to the truly exceptional nurses at Southlake Methodist Hospital Neuro-Intensive Care Unit, who provided much more than nursing care for Terry, but also provided a peaceful and compassionate environment during his transition from this life to the next.”
Lahm hoped that the obituary would resonate with family and friends, but she didn’t expect so many people to read it and love it.
After the obituary was shared, hundreds of people who had never met Terry commented on the guestbook. The comments helped the family in their time of grief.
One person wrote:
“You know that you are adored when you are honored with a tribute so full of humor, wit and heart-wide-open-love. A big hug to you and your family. You will forever feel the Terry shaped hole in your lives, but it will also always echo with tender memories and belly laughter, both from you all and from beyond. will always be with you as I can’t imagine he would want to miss a moment of this broods wonderfulness Kindly- an admiring stranger.”
“Someone need to write a book – what a guy!! I had a cousin just like him who is also gone, but maybe they are up there together sharing the beer and good times. He was a VN vet, too, and all these guys died too young. I did not know Terry but wish I had and this inspires me to write an obit that people want to read! May he rest in peace, and ‘may he be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows he’s dead!!’
“God bless his entire family.”
Lahm said that she knew her dad would appreciate the thought and humor that went into his obituary.
“I definitely can just see him laughing in heaven. When he smiled, he smiled with his whole face. His face lit up, and there was this loud, thunderous laugh he had. I truly picture him and my sister up there, eating popcorn, watching everything unfold — laughing hysterically.”
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