Dissection of Death

Here is the dissection of the blog about my obiturary post. I had gotten a lot of feedback about it and asked a lot of questions. Yes, it really was an assignment, and here is the actually thought process that went on in my head when I wrote it. This is to give you an idea of what goes in to a blog post, it really isn’t just me sitting down and writing a bunch of words, sometimes I will put Easter Eggs in there that you may or may not catch on to. So here is some insight into “The Obituary”.

Mark Brown, 45, of Oklahoma City has died. He is dead. He has kicked the bucket, gone to the big sleep, off to meet his Maker. He’s gone.

I chose to do 5 deaths here on purpose. I could have easily just said “has died” and left it alone, but the reason I did repeated simile was 1)it is a style my favortie journalist Tom Junod does often to hit home the idea, and 2) when you do something repeatively enough, you are “beating it to death” and I thought that would be a fun play on the subject of death, to “beat it to death”

The cause of death is undetermined, although the thoughts and theories run abundant.

There is acutally meaning behind this. The late great author Mark Twain said “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” in a telegram from London to the press in the United States after his obituary had been mistakenly published. I thought it was fitting since he was alive and writing about his death, that I too think it was funny that I am alive writing about my death.

One such tale is that he jumped into a volcano to save the world, while another states how he was curious as to who was tougher, him or a bear. Apparently the bear won. One claim is that Mark simply walked into the corn fields and vanished, perhaps looking for one last catch with his old man. No one really knows the cause of his demise because his body was never recovered.

I could have just put one death here, but there is meaning in putting 3, particulary these three. First off, I wanted to pay homage to baseball, where 3 strikes you are “out”. But more importantly, I wanted to add a Christian easter egg to show the three characters of the faith, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So with the Volcano, it is derived from a special movie I love called “Joe Versus the Volcano” where Joe, played by Tom Hanks is recruited to jump into a volcano to appease the volcano “spirit” and save the island. In the bear death, it is traced to a favorite movie based on a favorite novella of mine written my Jim Harrison “Legands of the Fall”. In the movie version, Tristan, played by Brad Pitt is the central character and the favorite “SON” of the family. At the end of the movie, he dies fighting a bear, and the narator Two Songs called it a “Good Death“, which I thought was fitting here. Finally, the corn field is a direct take from the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. The final scene is where he asks his dad, or “Father”for a catch before he disappears back into the cornfield. So that’s why i chose these particular deaths, to represent scenes in movies that have a Father, a Son, and a Spirit. Also, my dad is passed and the scene is an instant cry feast for me.

He was last seen driving west in his jeep, the top down, doors off, a devilish grin on his face and a baseball cap on his head.

Of course you can’t have a death without a direct reference to every Western ever made where the cowboy rides west into the sunset. I added the the description of the jeep for flare and the Devilish grin was a bit of a oxymoron to have devilish grin while going to Heaven.

The song Back To You by John Mayer blasting from the stereo. Many that witnessed the event weren’t sure what to make of the music choice, was he referring to God, or perhaps chasing the ghost of a memory? Whatever the case, he found what he was looking for.

I knew the first time I heard Back to You in 2001, it was going to remain a favorite. The words are perfect, and it is a song I play everytime I land back in OKC from any trip. Also, it represesnts a relationship, not a perfect one, but one that is longed for, like my relationship with God, so it was basically the whole, I am coming “Back to You”. Also, this is a reference to an earlier post “For Sean where I talk about how the purchase of the jeep came to be, and perhaps, I am also refering to coming back to him too, and our friendship.

Mark was born in the small town of Hartshorne, Oklahoma to Carol Ann and Bruce. Love was abundant in his town and in his family, and so was adventure. Though the city limits are small in his hometown, the boundaries of reality reached to the outer limits of the stars and as far back as the dinosaurs. A lot of living can be done in a small place, and Mark milked it til it was dry, and promptly went back to the start and asked for more.. He found adventure on bikes, in fields, in the Cubs and in the wind. He saw adventure because he was looking for it, and sometimes it found him. 

This whole paragraph is a throw back to the blog post “Paradise” of mine. I start the post talking about finding a dinosaur with my brother, which is a true story, and finish with talking about wanting to be an astronaut as a kid, which the stars is a common theme throughout this post and many others I have done.

Love is meant to be shared, and Mark gobbled all he could from all those around him, from family to friends, from strangers and even enemies. He sought to see the best in people, and when you try to look for something, you often tend to find it. He found love in silence and in song, he found peace in pain and solitude in companionship. He loved people, and when alone, would think about those he had met, and hope they too would find the awe in themselves that he found in them.

There really aren’t any major Easter Eggs in this paragraph, other than to just be a “gratitude” paragraph

Mark loved to read. He loved to write. He hated arithmetic.

this is just a play on the whole school theme of “reading, writing and arithmetic” saying. I do love to read and write, ang I just added the final bit because I thought it would be fun.

He would clean his house to Frank Sinatra because he felt it helped put life into the place,

I do listen to Frank Sinatra Pandoras station when cleaning the house, and sometimes when I mow too. I particularly wanted to use his name because one of his most famous songs was “Fly me to the Moon, which ties in to the theme here of moon and star “fly me too the moon and let me play among the stars”

and listened to Jazz in the evenings to let the life dance in the air.

Yes, I do love Jazz and this is a throwback to that blog post. I like to use dance in this part because one of my favorite dance scenes in all of the movies involves the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather. So I always relates some dance with Jazz.

He enjoyed mowing, as strange as that sounds. Mowing was his love language, and the way his inner child found joy. His favorite book will always be The Great Gatsby, for like Gatsby, Mark believed in the green light, he believed in hope and he believed in love. His favorite movie was 12 Angry Men, because he also believed that one man can make a difference.

I do love to mow, it is relaxing to me and I love the process of seeing physical change in something so quickly. I absolutely adore the Great Gatsby and to this day it is the first book I read that opened my eyes to what real literature is. The part of the book about the green light is both haunting and magicial, how a man with so much means was still humbled by the thought of love. 12 Angry Men is a masterpiece in screenwriting. The whole movie except for 2 minutes, is shot entirely in a juror’s room, and the whold movie is dialogue driven. You can’t talk about heros without mentioning Henry Fonda’s charater in this movie.

There will be no services held to the public. A small ceremony will be held for his family because Italian Catholics are nothing if not faithful. And he was faithful. For friends, Mark would say, if you want to attend his service simply be outside, be somewhere, away from the things of man.

The no service goes back to the ending of “Legands of the Fall” where Tristan is buried in an unmarked grave. The saying “away from the things of man” is a repeated quote from “Joe Versus the Volcano” that I adore.

He will come find you in the  wind, in a song or in a memory. You will find his hug in the warmth of the sun and his smile will kiss your face with the season’s first rain. He would simply ask that you remember him, and stories and the fun. Forgive him his trespasses, for he never kept count of yours. He was human after all, and sometimes the struggle to find your footing can be hard, especially when you are constantly looking up to the stars.

Obviously the forgive him his trespasses is a direct take from The Lord’s Prayer, but instead of “as we forgive those that trespass against us” I thought it was fitting to say that I am under the school of thought that people mean well and are doing there best, I don’t need to keep score. The last line is another reference to the stars and space, a common theme and some forshadowing.

Mark leaves behind a small child, Jack Emerson, named after two authors, Jack London and Ralph Waldo Emerson. And like the tales told by the two, Jack is called to be wild and adventurous. His last words for Jack before he left were “Remember the feelings, for those are the most important things. Remember how I made you feel, for I will always remember how you made me love.”

Yes, I liked the name Jack for Jack London and Emerson for Ralph Waldo Emerson. Jack London’s most famous book is “Call of the Wild”. As far as the saying goes, I did make that quote up, and here is the story behind it. Feelings are always a big role in everyone’s life. After my friend’s Nancy’s memorial service “see Fight Club and The Pit“, one of my friends came up to me a week later and told me she loved what I said (I was one of the speakers), she then stated that she didn’t remember what I said, but she just remembered how it made her feel. I think that was my goal here, was to 1) let Jack know that feelings are important, and 2) rember how I made him feel. Also, in a John Mayer song “Wheel” , He talks about the cycle of love and the ending of the song goes “I believe that my life’s gonna see, the love I give, return to me” Which made me write that part “remember how I made you feel for I will always remember how you made me love”, stating that because he gave me love, I was able to show him love and make him feel love, the “wheel” of life, and the love he gave to me would always return “Back to You”,

Today the man in the moon gained a friend in the stars, the universe expanded a bit further, and the sun burns a bit brighter. The measure of a man is often in how they make you feel, and the stronger the feeling the longer the memories will last. Mark hoped he gave you enough to last a lifetime. 

The Moon and star make another appearance here and refers again to another blog post “Insomnia” where I talk to the man in the moon. Also there is a saying that goes a man dies twice, once when his body dies, and finally when his name is spoken for the last time on Earth. I suppose I hope I give people enough stories to keep my memory alive for a long time after my death.

Ad Astra

Ad Astra is latin for “to the stars”. It is a pretty famous quote and is in To Kill a Mockingbird as : Per aspera ad astra “through hardships to the stars”. This is a final saying that relates to the final paragraph, I am dead and I am off to the stars. But also, I wanted to put it in there because of a second meaning. The movie Ad Astra with Brad Pitt is about an astronaut who flies to space to find his father. And that was my final homage to my dad. They say when you die someone is there to meet you from you family, and I suspect mine would be my dad, and I would return “Back to You, the man in the moon .”

There you have it, the thought process I put into this assignment. I always joke that if I had it to do again, I would be a literature and movie history major. Thanks for reading.