Cause of death: Stubborness

Ever read an obituary that raised your eyebrows? Ever left a funeral thinking it was  case of mistaken identity?

This week my old friend Bob Young shared this obituary with the annual gathering of seminary classmate. Bob has a wry sense of humor. We knew something was coming by the twinkle in Bob’s eye.

This obituary is the exception to phony. It appeared in the Ponca City News:

Joshua Micheal (nope, not a typo it’s really spelled that way) McMahan left this world April 18, 2012. He was loved, hated, praised, and cursed by relatives and friends alike. He ultimately passed as a result of being stubborn, refusing to follow doctors’ (or anyone else for that matters) orders, and raising hell for a little more than three decades. He lived life on his own terms.

Josh was born on Sept. 16, 1978, to Linda Burgert Waller. Josh was a beautiful, unique, kind, and loving spirit man. Joshie endured around ten mind-numbing years of public schooling. He had worked as a pizza delivery boy and call center representative before shockingly becoming independently “wealthy.”

He loved music, beer, movies, vodka, television, and women, but not necessarily in that order. He was also an awesome drummer!/vocalist? and was in several bands over the years. He lived in Ponca City his entire life except for the past year where he was forced to put up with his sister and brother-in-law out in the middle of nowhere — a little piece of terra firma aptly called Haskell.

He is survived by Rosie, his long-time canine companion; a sister, Melanie Waller Ochoa; a brother-in-law, DJ Ochoa; a best friend/brother, Cliff Crull; three nieces, Miranda, Emma, and Camille; and one nephew, Maxx. Josh had no children of his own (at least none that we know of). He was preceded in death by Mom Linda, Grandma Nina Burgert, and Grandpa Joe Burgert.

A remembrance service will be held at 2 p.m. April 25 in the chapel of Trout Funeral Home where you may re-tell the stories he can no longer share. Anyone dressed in a suit or Sunday’s best will be promptly escorted back to their vehicle. Just kidding … we’ll accept you as you are — just as Josh would have in life. Please be wary for any children’s sake, there may be profanity and/or alcohol involved. If you have a special memory or maybe just want to irritate Josh for all eternity, please bring a magnet or sticker to attach to his casket for evermore.

In lieu of flowers or memorial gifts, please give generously, in Joshs’ honor, to

JRock will be placed to rest in the St. Mary’s section of Odd Fellows (the irony) Cemetery in Ponca City and I’m sure he would invite you to come by later and have a laugh on him — literally.

As Bob read aloud Josh’s  obituary in his droll manner, we had a great laugh, just as Josh would have wanted, and we felt accepted as we really are. Lord knows we’re all likely “to pass as a result of being stubborn.”

We had another round in Josh’s honor and prayed (not really) that, if someone decides to tell the truth in our obituaries, the writer will have a lively sense of humor…and a whole lot of grace.

9 thoughts on “Cause of death: Stubborness

  1. Yes! I loved it!

    I get really tired of people “saintifying” the deceased, when we all know it’s crapola. I swear to god, if anyone does that at my funeral I WILL KILL THEM! (I’ll find a way.)

    I have decided that I will do a video for my funeral, and it will be fun, good for a few laughs, and tell the truth about me. Josh’s obit is a good example of what I have in mind. I will probably omit the profanity, but it might be a good idea to sip on a beer as I’m recording. I like that idea!



  2. wow. that is a great obituary. I want mine to be like that. So fabulous. There is nothing like honesty and a good sense of humor to get rid of the case of mistaken identity when writing an obituary. It is true – we are all faulty and all perfect. And to pretend we are all one or the other is just not truthful. Thank you for sharing!


  3. “…we had a great laugh, just as Josh would have wanted, and we felt accepted as we really are. Lord knows we’re all likely “to pass as a result of being stubborn.” Amen and Amen. It is good to be with those who accept us as we are!


    • Bob, thanks for commenting – and thanks to you and Gretchen for Josh’s obituary. I wish everyone could here YOU read it in the way only you could. Every time I remember it, I’m doubled up on the floor. In further research, i discovered that his siter wrote this piece, but that she used a similar obituary as her model. She was in such grief that she didn’t kow what to write. She searched the internet, found the humorous obit and used it as the basis for Josh’s obituary. We had a great week. So good to be together.


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