27 August 2008

The 'B*TCH' word in an obit

In my many years as a copywriter, I have been drilled by my mentors to make sure that the words that I string together are always crisp and endowed with ruthless stopping power.

I guess this was what they were talking about:

An obit for a certain Dolores Aguilar appeared in the Vallejo Times-Herald.

It was so shockingly brutal that the newspaper received an avalanche of phone calls and emails from disgusted readers.

Most believed it was a cruel prank unleashed on them.

Turns out Aguilar's obit is real — mighty real, according to an anonymous editorial spokesperson at VHT.

In order to publish the damning obit, the editorial staff did something unprecedented: they demanded to see Aguilar's death certificate brought in by a blood relative.

As expected, several major dailies made a lot of noise
prompting the Vallejo Times-Herald to pull out the obit online faster than you can say Funeraria Quiogue.

Legacy.com, which hosts the paper's online obits, yanked both the notice and the guestbook after receiving "over 200 responses" that bordered on cruel and offensive. (Just like Dolores!)

Legacy.com explained that it prefers its commenters to never speak ill of the dead. Good luck with that.

But if you've access to a print issue of this weekend's Vallejo Times-Herald, you can find the obit in there, or read it here.

Oh, and be sure to hold onto it. That issue is a collector's item.

Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Raymond, her son, Paul Jr., and daughter, Ruby.

She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona, and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren, Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayci, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.

Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.