Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing an obituary.

"Rich Arcuri passed away last weekend from a work related accident on the day before his 50th birthday. He was a good man."

I always sucked at writing so I tried to avoid many (any?) of the writing classes through high school, college, and beyond. By avoiding those classes, I avoided many of the classic writing assignments. One of these classics I avoided was to write an obituary.

I found out last Saturday that Rich Arcuri passed away. I knew Rich through his brother Frank who trains with me from time to time and holds the dubious and distinctive honor of dubbing me "The Rock Star." I've met Rich, the other Arcuri brothers, and many members of their family through Team in Training and many other endurance sports training sessions and races. I consider Frank a friend but only really knew Rich, his younger brother, more as an acquaintance.

My wife and I went to the wake last night. When we got there we saw a line of mourners out the door of the funeral home and wrapped around the perimeter of the parking lot. We joined at the end of the line and, as we waited to go in to pay our respects, we talked with many people from different aspects of our own life that Rich touched. We had no idea how some of them knew Rich and they didn't know how we knew him. Some we talked to were on line waiting to get in, some were exiting, others were in the parking lot just talking in small groups as inside the funeral home was full beyond capacity. My wife and I originally expected to just "stop by" but wound up being there a few hours, most of the time in the parking lot catching up with other mourners. Even so, we weren't able to talk with all the people we wanted to. There just wasn't enough time. There never is for things like this.

Rich was a father. He was a husband. He was a brother. He was an uncle. He was a coach. He was an athlete who finished over 40 marathons. He raised a ton of money for charity. He was a friend. I believe the most important thing about Rich that everyone who knew him knows was that he was loved.When I spoke with Frank he summed up his brother perfectly when he said, "he was a good man."

Sometimes a slant on the traditional obituary writing assignment is not to just write an obituary, but to write your own, or at least what you think your obituary should be. When I read Rich's official obituary in the newspaper, I pondered what mine might say. Writing a hypothetical obituary as part of a writing assignment is very different from writing a real one that celebrates a person's life while at the same time mourns his passing. I hope when mine ultimately gets written I would be considered "a good man" like so many considered Rich. 

Rest in peace.


Unknown said...

Sorry for your loss.

For what it's worth, I had to write obituaries for both my dad (2009) and my mom (earlier this year). It sucks. I actually wrote my mom's before she died. Even though that seems weird, it was better than doing it when I was upset.

Maybe writing your own obituary isn't such a bad idea. Then you can strive to live up to the legacy you wish to leave behind.

TriMOEngr said...

Always sad to lose someone so young. Heart warming to know he was loved and touched so many. I wrote both my stepmother and dad's obituaries. Not an easy task. Have drafted one for myself though I haven't given it to my husband. Guess part of me hopes he'll go first. I like Lisa's idea of living up to the legacy you wish to leave behind. I thought a lot about memories I'm making with my kids lately. I hope they look back when I'm gone and know how deeply I loved them and cherish the times we spent together.

Teamarcia said...

So sorry for your loss. I never wrote an obit in school or IRL yet for that matter. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

Jford said...

Sorry for your loss.

Unknown said...

Great post Joe. Sue and I were there on Monday night. We got there early because I knew how much Rich was beloved and knew what a madhouse it was going to be. So there was no line when we arrived, other than in the room. By the time we left, there must have been 200-300 people with lines snaked out to the parking lot. Talk about a rock star--you may have to share your status. For Rich, he would have said that this was totally unnecessary--he was one of the most humble guys I ever met. That's what he was about. On Wednesday I went to the funeral. Frank's son Frank Jr. (who I believe is actually the third) and Rich's nephew spoke so eloquently about his beloved uncle who was like a second father to him. The Arcuri family did not deserve this heartache--they are all good, good people. Rich left this earth much too early. I try to have faith, but sometimes that faith is shaken to its core. This is one of those times.

Ransick said...

Wow, that's rough. When a friend dies it feels like a little piece of your heart goes too. When I'm running and see a colorful bird I often think about a friend of mine that died way to early.

Al's CL Reviews said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.