my Dad's life story

Yesterday my Mom and I went to the funeral home to take them some pictures and tell them some info about Dad. The funeral home subcontracts with a web service that provides a brochure with pictures and Dad’s life story. They also made up this picture:

which is compiled of the pictures we gave them of Dad at different ages. It’s a goofy concept but when you know the person I think it’s kind of interesting. 

After the interview, the funeral home director submits all the information we gave him to a “lifestory” writer and then they post the proposed online bio for family editing.

This is apparently a bit of a pastiche of the contracted writers abilities to make sentences and our information. Most of it was okay but the opening paragraph they wrote made me crazy. This is it:

Paul A. Jenkins was a vigorous man in heart and mind, who cherished his wife, cared for his family and worked diligently inservice to others. Always in pursuit of the true meaning of life, Paul found purpose in loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly with his God.


In case you missed it, the last sentence is a paraphrase of a bible verse locally very popular: “what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

The sentiment in this verse is admirable but has no special connection to my Dad. The writer of the paragraph obviously had it in mind with his topic sentence which in its mutiple clauses draws on the verbs and gives a nod to the structure of the bible verse. Clever enough but it grated on me.

After some soul wrenching work and assistance from my wife, daughter and quasi-son-in-law, I came up with an alternative:

Paul A. Jenkins believed that his story would remain unfinished even after his death. He spent his entire life thinking, wondering, and talking about God. As a seeker of meaning and a preacher, he loved sharing his insights and questions with his congregations, his colleagues and his family. A man who expressed himself easily, he often told his wife he loved her and was lucky to spend his life with her. He deeply loved his family and gladly embraced a life of service to others. 

Still not wonderful particularly, but better, I think. I cribbed from a different source: My Dad’s autobiography he wrote some years ago in which he wrote: 

“Living this life-story has taken 75 years. As told here it is obviously incomplete. Whether you read this before or after I die, my story is still in the making. I have tried to record significant moments in my life’s journey. I know that what I share here is partial at best but it has been an enlightening exercise.”  taken from “Thru Many Dangers Toils and Snares: Chronology and Memoirs” by Paul A.Jenkins (unpublished)

I didn’t have the heart to re-write the entire thing. But Eileen and I scrutinized it the entire piece for errors (there were some) and resubmitted it to the funeral home/web site people. You can see the whole dealy here


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