Writing about someone you love

It’s hard to write about yourself (oh my gosh, the horrors of trying to write a bio) but it might be even harder to write about someone you love, especially when you’re trying to convey their entire essence within a designated word count. My uncle Steve passed away very unexpectedly a few weeks ago and I was asked to write his obituary. He was my mom’s baby brother, the youngest of her  seven siblings, and we were more like siblings than uncle and niece since I spent summer months with my grandparents in California. He introduced me to tons of music, encouraging my love of new wave and pop-punk. He’d take me to record stores and movies and the mall, only teasing me a little for what a weirdo I was as an awkward if precocious kid. Most remarkably, even when he was a teenager and college student, he never complained about having to bring me along or entertain me. He was never too busy for a game of Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit. “Jane Eyre!” he would shout if he didn’t know the answer to an Art & Literature question. When you want to tell the world everything about how great a person is, words seem insufficient. How do you write about  someone who taught me so much? Who loved his “Bride” (she would roll her eyes whenever he referred to her as such, although I think she secretly liked it) and four kids more than anything on earth? Who left this world just days before his second grandchild entered it? Steve made the world’s best grilled cheese and loved golf more than any human being should but those seem like such microscopic aspects of his personality. In the end, I had to go with broad strokes. Just the facts, milestones and dates and next of kin. It won’t ever be enough but hopefully those who read it will be able to catch a glimmer of how much he meant to us.

 – Naomi Shapiro, 2023 WPC President

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