The obituary that C. Earl Bender’s family placed for him in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer begins: My friend and lover of 56 years has “kicked the bucket” as he said to me, his wife, Hildegarde on August 8, 2011, at home surrounded by his loving family.***
Those who knew him, don't need a list of things he did, and those who didn't know him, wouldn't care. But his children each left a love letter to him.
As a professional obituary writer, I wanted that list of things he did to identify him to people who may have seen him around his community or workplace, but didn’t necessarily know his name. But as a mother and grandmother, I appreciate these love notes, which paint a portrait of a man who was well-loved and admired.
From his son William: Deaf in one ear so that he might not hear, but he always listened; Blind in one eye, but he saw everything; Crippled in one leg by Polio, but he always kept up, with our dreams, pains, troubles and luck.
Son Clifford wrote: I can't remember the good times, because there were no bad times. . . If I could pick my father again, I'd still choose you.
Daughter Jennifer called him a steadfast rock in this ever-changing world.
Daughter Amy: You are always willing to go on an adventure and you have always demonstrated what love should look like; both for your kids and more importantly, your wife.
So thanks Dad, for making math fun... For telling me I can do anything I want to do... Thanks for teaching me that as long as I try my hardest, and give something my best shot, then I shouldn't be disappointed. Thanks for being the best Dad.
This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer who lives in Northeast Ohio. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.