A Father's Funny And Sweet Send-off For Himself
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Walter George Bruhl Jr. of Newark and Dewey Beach, Del., is a dead person, he is no more, he is bereft of life, he is deceased, he has wrung down the curtain and gone to join the choir invisible. That's the way the obituary for the 80-year-old Mr. Bruhl begins. He died on Sunday.
It's a nod to "Monty Python," and it's exactly the way he would have wanted it because he wrote it. Mr. Bruhl left it behind, typed up with blanks to be filled in: the day he died, where he was, and the number of years he was married to his loving wife Helene - 57.
Walter Bruhl's grandson shared the full text of the very funny and moving obit on the website Reddit, and it quickly went viral this week. The Bruhl family says they have been overwhelmed by the response. And we've reached Walter Bruhl's son Martin in Newark, Del. Mr. Bruhl, welcome to the program, and I'm very sorry for your loss.
MARTIN BRUHL: Thank you very much.
BLOCK: Did you know that your father had written this obituary?
BRUHL: I did not. My mom had shown it to me shortly after his passing.
BLOCK: Let's read one section from it. He talks about the things he has left behind. He wrote this: (Reading) Walt was preceded in death by his tonsils and adenoids in 1935, a spinal disc in 1974, a large piece of his thyroid gland in 1988. Did that strike you very much as the dad you knew, and the sense of humor you knew?
BRUHL: It is definitely the sense of humor that we all knew. I'm sure right now he's getting a big kick out of this whole thing. He's laughing at all of us. (Laughing)
BLOCK: He also did explain why there would be no viewing after his death, and I wonder if you could read that part of the obituary that your father wrote for himself.
BRUHL: Sure. (Reading) There will be no viewing since his wife refuses to honor his request to have him standing in the corner of the room with a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand so that he would appear natural to visitors.
BLOCK: What did you think about that?
BRUHL: That was him, without a doubt, to a T. He loved life. He loved being around people. He just seemed to bring a smile everywhere he went.
BLOCK: Now, I wonder in reading this obituary that your father wrote for himself, did it somehow lessen the blow of his dying to have read these words?
BRUHL: It did and also, how much it has affected a lot of people. At the end, he asked for people to do an unsolicited act of kindness. And reading all the things online, how many people have done that, it really was something amazing.
BLOCK: Your father did toss in another line, also, about his remains. He says his ashes will be kept in an urn until they get tired of having it around. And then I can just imagine he couldn't resist saying: What's a Grecian urn? Oh, about 200 drachmas a week.
BRUHL: Yes. Without a doubt, that's him throwing in, again, his humor everywhere he turns. He had a bunch of them.
BLOCK: I gather there's a memorial lunch coming up this weekend for your father. What do you think the tone is going to be like?
BRUHL: Well, I think it's going to be a lot of fun memories. The grandkids are all printing out a bunch of pictures for us to make some collages, and we've run across a lot of great old pictures of he and my mom from the '50s at different beaches. And he loved the beach in Dewey until they stopped letting you drink on the beach in Dewey. (Laughter) Then he decided that it just - he was doing his own little protest and never stepped foot on the beach again. So we spent a lot of time on the bay.
BLOCK: Well, Mr. Bruhl, it's good of you to talk with us. Thank you so much.
BRUHL: Thank you.
BLOCK: That's Martin Bruhl, speaking about his father, Walter, who died on Sunday. People from all over the world are raising a glass to his memory after his self-penned obituary became an Internet sensation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.