By Neil McKinnon
Recently, I attended a Celebration of Life that was held for Chad Lowenbear, a neighbour, who had died tragically in an automobile accident. Many of Chad’s friends and family spoke and all had something laudatory to say about his life and accomplishments. He truly was a wonderful person, beloved by all.
However, due to the fact that I’m a shallow individual with only occasional deep thoughts, my mind began to wander in the direction of my own accomplishments, and as it wandered it started to wonder … what would be said at a celebration of my life?
I couldn’t shake the feeling that because I’m a very modest person, many of the mourners attending a function in my memory may not know the real details of my history. Not all of my accomplishments are available on Wikipedia or elsewhere on the internet. Therefore, I thought that I should do all of my admirers a favor and prepare my own eulogy, obituary and epitaph so that they are readily available when the unhappy day arrives.
Eulogy for Neil (to be used at the appropriate time)
Universally admired author, Neil McKinnon, whose works have been translated into 102 languages and over 300 dialects will be missed on all continents. Nominated numerous times for Nobel, Giller and Booker prizes, he was a shoe-in for each had he not been disqualified because of some petty complaints about plagiarism that were raised by other nominees who were no doubt jealous of Neil’s literary abilities.
Considered one of the great philanthropists of modern times, Neil not only anonymously gave away a fortune to alleviate poverty in the world, but working quietly, without fanfare, he developed home remedy cures for a variety of medical conditions including toenail fungus, restless leg syndrome, itchy ears, male menopause, heel spurs and liver spots. A modest person, Neil has always stayed in the background, letting others take the credit. That is why his name is not associated with breakthroughs in the fight against major diseases like polio and aids. He was on the verge of announcing cures for cancer and obesity when his final mortgage came due. Never one to rest on his laurels, Neil, in his spare time, also developed much of the theory that led to the many successes of the U.S. Space Program.
Less well-known than his philanthropic and scientific endeavours were his peace-making and negotiating skills. Many conflicts including the Korean war, the Suez crisis, Vietnam and the Falkland Islands hostilities would still be raging were it not for his behind-the-scenes efforts. To this day, few people are aware that as a lad of seven he helped negotiate the end of World War II. He always turned down lifetime achievement awards as well as recognition from other countries. As a result, the George Cross, Croix de Guerre, Order of Lenin, Order of Canada and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are all absent from his résumé.
Neil had a great talent for the arts and were it not for an unfortunate incident involving a glass of beer and a razor, he would have made his Carnegie Hall debut in his early teens. Many do not know of Neil’s acting ability or that he was offered and turned down some of the major roles in movie and Broadway history. Kept busy advising world leaders, he was unable to perform as Lawrence of Arabia, Forest Gump, Professor Higgins or Elmer Gantry. His innate shyness and modesty made him refuse honorary Oscars every year from 1960 onward.
Sadly, Neil will not be buried with his Olympic medals. He voluntarily returned them and had his name expunged from the record books because, as a youngster, he had once taken a cod liver oil pill and he felt that this gave him an unfair early developmental edge. Few know that at one time Neil simultaneously held world records in weightlifting, figure skating and synchronised swimming. He also loved baseball and was a fan all of his life. From behind the dugout, he passed advice to Terry Francona that allowed the 2004 Boston Red Sox to win their first World Series in 85 seasons.
It is rumored that the Pope himself has declared that Neil should be canonized as the first non-Catholic saint. He will be missed.
A Newspaper Obituary for Neil (Prepared by one who knew him well)
It is with great sadness and sorrow that we announce the sudden passing of Neil McKinnon. He died while surrounded by family and friends. Hospitalized for haemorrhoids, it was thought that he was recovering. However, after he recited, for the twenty-third time, the long story of how he was robbed of a no-hitter in little league, someone assisted Neil on his final journey by placing a baseball in his mouth and holding his nose. His last words were, “mmmmmfff.”
Neil was born, lived and then died. It is believed that some of his accomplishments occurred during the middle stage. He is not survived by anyone of importance and no one of significance predeceased him. He leaves behind 102 cats and his wife Judy who said, “I truly loved him. Sure, I looked at other men, we all do … and sometime I rubbed, fondled and stroked … but I reserved my heart for Neil.”
Neil will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered along the front row of the stage at Miss Mandy Moist’s Erotic Burlesque House where he spent some of his happiest hours. An informal celebration of Neil’s life will be held during happy hour at the same establishment. A medley of Neil’s favourite tunes will be sung by his fraternal brothers in the Loyal Order of Beaver Chasers. In lieu of flowers, please send nasty letters to book reviewers and in Neil’s memory tuck at least one bill into Bambi Banger’s G-string.
An Epitaph for Neil (Written by his wife who, after hearing the foregoing eulogy, was heard to exclaim, “My God, they’re burying the wrong man!”)
Here inside this bone-yard heap,
Lies Neil McKinnon, fast asleep.
It matters not if he’s up or down,
He’ll talk a lot of his own renown.
And though it stretches credulity,
He’ll keep lying for eternity.
(Ed. Note: Neil is the author of Tuckahoe Slidebottle which was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Humour Award and the Howard O’Hagen Short Fiction Award.)