'Con Man' Dad's Most Entertaining (and Honest!) Obituary Goes Viral

I've read inspiring obituaries, laugh-out-loud obituaries, and of course plenty of heartfelt obituaries, but I don't think I've ever read anything quite like what was written for George Ferguson. Ferguson passed away on June 30th, and his death notice has since gone viral -- perhaps in part because it starts like this: "What to say about George? Certainly, no one could accuse him of having been a loving son, brother, or father. He'd gladly have stolen the shirt off your back and he was generous to a fault with other people's money."

George Ferguson's daughter Karen Shirley wrote the obituary about her dad the “small-time con-man," and it's clear she wasn't tempted to glean over the not-so-Hallmark moments of his life. No, she was pretty honest, and the result is a retrospect that's … well, it's quite the mix. As she put it, while George Ferguson may not have been the ideal father, he was likely "the most exciting member of his family and of the families he married into."

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In the notice, we learn that George was a religious man … sort of.

He was a poor man's rhetorician who beguiled certain woman into buying into his promises and dreams. This latter view is lent some support by the fact that he was a United Church minister who passionately improvised sermons for congregations in Quesnel, Barkerville, Bella Bella, Greenwood, Nipawin, Sask. and Kelowna. It is impossible to say whether or not George was actually religious. Anyway, God's name rarely came up when George was flush.

George definitely liked a drink or two.

Some of George's favourite watering holes were the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, the Oak Bay Golf Club, and the Marina. Of late, George had to travel to and from these places on his senior's scooter, which he drove as recklessly - and sometimes as drunkenly - as he had driven his cars in earlier years.

George had a positive outlook on life.

George was always an optimist about his future. Right up until the aftermath of his last surgery, he hoped that he could get into sufficiently good shape to charm another woman into supporting him, or perhaps invent something that would make him a billionaire or maybe even win the lottery! He never complained about his later lot in life, living cheerfully in a small apartment that was just barely on the right side of the Tweed Curtain.

George was in control until the very end.

While George did not live well by some people's lights, it should be universally accepted that he did die well. In hospital, two days beforehand, he said he'd finished with the medical procedures he had been avidly seeking for the past few years; he said he was 'checking out'. He was completely calm and committed to the decision. The next day, we brought in some beer, toasted his life with him, drank with him, and helped him to make several thoughtful good-bye phone calls. He reminisced a bit and gave us a few unhelpful instructions. He died without pain the next evening, from a slow gastric bleed, with his wits about him and a light heart.

Possibly because he saw the writing on the wall.

Turns out, his timing was impeccable: the next day we found out that he had been racking up ominous bank and credit card debts. Clearly, those supplemental incomes were about to dry up. In earlier years, George would sometimes slip out of a town after he had accumulated local debts and after the relevant woman's purse had been snapped shut. But of late, he was in no condition to skip town. And women just don't see old men on scooters as the stuff of their dreams - they see them as impending burdens. Perhaps George felt cornered. Perhaps he thought that, under his present circumstances, dying was the only way out. Whatever the story, no one can deny that George made his final exit with style and grace.

I have to hand it to Karen Shirley, she put together what seems like the perfect goodbye for a man who was decidedly imperfect. These words have a bite to them, but they don't carry the weight of resentment, exactly. It feels like she made her peace with his many idiosyncrasies, and thanks to her humor and writing talent, the rest of us get a taste of what it might have been like to know (or be swindled by) George Ferguson.

Also, she says his irresponsible life choices give her hope for her own longevity:

God, he sure lived longer than he should have. After what he did to that body? But it sure makes me optimistic about mine.

What do you think of this obituary? Do you think his daughter did the right thing with such an honest, quirky notice?

Image via Victoria Times Colonist

 

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