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If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did.
July 17, 2012 8:49 AM   Subscribe

To Disneyland - you can now throw away that "Banned for Life" file you have on me, I'm not a problem anymore - and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this. Val Patterson, 1953 - 2012, wrote his own obituary as he was dying of throat cancer. He made a few confessions.
posted by gaspode (53 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Flashman at 8:58 AM on July 17, 2012


My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me.

Probably shouldn't have read this at work.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:00 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


.

Sob.
posted by bilabial at 9:09 AM on July 17, 2012


My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments. My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the "thief" now - for stealing so much from her - there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

Yeah, glad I'm not at work reading this, but I think grocery shopping will have to wait a few minutes.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:10 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I very much would have liked to know this man, scourge of theme parks that he was.
posted by sonika at 9:13 AM on July 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hm, don't know if I believe all his exploits, but he sounds like a hell of a fun guy to know. May all of us feel as few regrets.
posted by emjaybee at 9:16 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy surely had his head on straight. Well spoken.

Sometimes wisdom comes at a terrible price. Thanks for the reminder to give someone I love a big hug today.

My best college friend died of cancer at 27. For him, I try hard not to take anything for granted, especially stuff like breathing and eating and looking at the sky.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:17 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


See you around, Val.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2012


Val, you seemed awesome. I would have loved to have known you. I think we would have had lots in common----laughing.
posted by stormpooper at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2012


What weirdly delightful person he must have been to know.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:23 AM on July 17, 2012


I like this idea of writing your own obituary. Any other examples of this around?

(Also yeah I definitely cried at this AND at the gay Marine marriage story. I'm a mess today, thanks a lot guys)
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:30 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"If you want to live forever then don't stop breathing like I did."

Love this guy. He and his family will be in my intentions.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


After reading this I wanted to head to Utah this coming weekend, because I imagine some of the people who'll be there celebrating will be people I'd sure like to meet.
posted by Rocky Mtn Erica at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sniff.
posted by dejah420 at 9:34 AM on July 17, 2012


I like this idea of writing your own obituary.

My father-in-law wrote his own obituary. Not because he was dying but just because he was a very practical person. When he did die we merely had to fill in a couple last minute achievements and the date of death. It was really nice to not have to deal with writing one ourselves so soon after the death.

I hope some day I can do the same for my family.
posted by bondcliff at 9:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by lalochezia at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2012


Oh god my addiction to cigarettes fills me with hopeless fear and a spark of determination to do something before it's too late.
posted by StephenF at 9:45 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2012


Oh god my addiction to cigarettes fills me with hopeless fear and a spark of determination to do something before it's too late.

It's so fucking hard, I know. But please don't stop trying to quit.

It was for your sake that the world was created.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:14 AM on July 17, 2012


Oh god my addiction to cigarettes fills me with hopeless fear and a spark of determination to do something before it's too late.
posted by StephenF

So stop smoking. My parents had both been pack-a-day plus smokers for a decade when the major surgeon general's report came out in 1964. They just stopped smoking that day, and never looked back. Since then an entire industry has grown up that spends a lot of energy convincing people that quitting smoking is hard, so they can sell you products to help you (and drag it out as long as possible.) The only way to quit is to quit. Not that it isn't difficult, it's just not as difficult or complicated as people are led to believe. In honor of this fine man taking his last breath, take your last breath of cigarette smoke.
posted by jetsetsc at 10:15 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


jetsetsc, your hubris is amazing and vastly inappropriate for this thread, imo.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:24 AM on July 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


jetsetsc: They just stopped smoking that day, and never looked back.

It was easy for me too, actually. However, for most people it really, really is not easy. At all. You should practice some empathy: it's the ability the imagine the real situations of people other than yourself and, to some degree, understand what it must be like to experience a life different from your own.
posted by gilrain at 10:51 AM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Maybe empathy patches?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:07 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


.

He sounded like a cool person.

(please don't roll/toss things into geysers, that is all.) /end PSA
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:13 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Gelatin at 11:28 AM on July 17, 2012


I liked reading this but the bit about Old Faithful really put me off. I mean, fuck cancer, sure. But what kind of a dick rolls rocks into a nationally treasured natural landmark? This is in the same line as the fucking assholes who went through a park in Montana a few years back, breaking natural arch formations just to be assholes.

You lived a good life, Val, except for the trashing our national parks part. If not for that, I'd be left with a really different impression of you. But that shit just rubs me the wrong way from top to bottom. I hope you at least had the decency to regret it, because the flippant way it was brought up in the obit made me wonder if you were confessing or bragging.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


because the flippant way it was brought up in the obit made me wonder if you were confessing or bragging.

I suspect it was neither confessing nor bragging but rather 'making shit up'.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah that sounded like a joke to me...
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:41 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm really Sorry. I didn't mean to come off as snotty as I did. Just wanted to offer encouragement to those who would like to quit. It is eminently doable, and judging by the amount of regret about not quitting in this guy's autobituary, completely worth doing as soon as possible.
posted by jetsetsc at 11:43 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yea, I'm with caution live frogs... I suppose there are some worse things in life and that young and stupid isn't really something you can eradicate but messing with things that took thousands of years to create is something above and beyond stealing a safe out of a roadside hotel room.

While working in YNP I happened to be walking around Norris Geyser Basin and meet the ranger whose duty it was that day to go around with the glorified colander on a long stick and fish out the coins, rocks, sticks, candy wrappers, and other detritus that people found joy in tossing into hot springs or geysers. It was awful to hear of what people did and how often they did it. Doubly scary is the fact that it was actually not all that illegal or repressed only a few decades ago. Several geysers were killed altogether, never to erupt again.

On preview: I considered the whole 'making thing up' angle and got a bit confused myself. It was almost as if his whole story/obit/life was a joke in and of itself and he was married to marijuana as his life partner, but I could be missing something. It wouldn't be the first time.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2012


I want to know what do you have to do to get banned from Disney and Sea World?
posted by stormpooper at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2012


I'm kind of thinking he made some of this shit up. I mean, have you been near Old Faithful?

Which actually makes this somewhat cooler, in my book.

He done a good thing with this.
posted by lodurr at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2012


stormpooper: "I want to know what do you have to do to get banned from Disney and Sea World?"

I was officially asked to leave Disney World once. Had something to do with 'schrooms and my friend Jack Daniels. They did say I could come back when I matured.

I would love to have had the opportunity to have had a beer or five with Val. RIP.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2012


I want to know what do you have to do to get banned from Disney and Sea World?

It's probably not too hard.

I like this idea of writing your own obituary. Any other examples of this around?

Here's an excerpt from a dead friend of mine who wrote his own:

"Born in --------, Ohio on ------, 1951, Steve didn't much care for the harsh Ohio winter, so he moved to Charlotte at the age of two. His mom and dad came with him- the late E------ D------ and Robert G----- of ------- Ohio. Steve occasionally attended ------- High School and graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida with a BA in anthropology. Never one to allow education to get in the way, Steve spent years traveling the country as an itinerant carpenter and barroom philosopher. He then accidentally worked 20 years as a baggage handler for a major airline, as well as a variety of mundane jobs: any excuse to meet and talk to new people. Steve often lauded himself for going through his entire life without ever having a real job."

And Val sounds like he was a fun guy. Further National Park Mayhem Anecdote: above friend was banned from Yellowstone for "molesting a moose." (Throwing beer cans at it, and yes he knew he was lucky that didn't result in an obituary).
posted by marxchivist at 12:26 PM on July 17, 2012


Holy Crap, throwing beer cans at a moose is the height of crazy foolishness.

The morbidly curious past YNP employee in me is curious as to if it was it a lifetime ban or a few year thing? I'm sure he had to go before the [federal] judge at Mammoth Hot Springs. Word to the wise to those of you reading that may one day be tempted to do crazy things in Yellowstone, from what I've heard pretty much any and all crimes that lead to your arrest in the park are federal offenses and are treated with rather harshly by the judge they have on duty up there. Expect at least a few hour drive and a day wait to even see him/her too. *shiver*.

For the ultra-morbidly curious, and I think this was a post on metafilter or askme a while back, there's a loophole that you can commit murder in the Idaho portion of Yellowstone National Park and get away with it based upon the fact that it's legally impossible for a jury of your peers from the region to be called upon. If I'm recalling things correctly the only person who has taken advantage of said loophole is a few poachers who killed some elk or some such, but I'm pretty sure they did get released.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:37 PM on July 17, 2012


He's not saying he was banned from Yellowstone, he's just apologizing for 'rolling rocks' into a geiser implied to be Old Faithful that were either large or numerous enough to prevent it from working.

Getting close enough to do that with rocks either big or numerous enough to do the job just strikes me as both implausible and foolhardy. I'm thinking that part's, let's just say, not entirely accurate.
posted by lodurr at 12:51 PM on July 17, 2012


I'm kind of thinking he made some of this shit up. I mean, have you been near Old Faithful?

I haven't, but I've been to Geysir in Iceland - the geyser from which the word "geyser" originates. It's pretty impressive.

It's also impossible to "plug it up." You couldn't if you tried. To get a rock big enough to plug the "hole" would be bigger than a person could feasibly lift and the whole thing is surrounded by sulfuric hot springs anyway. Rolling rocks into the springs? Sure, it could be done and yes, it would irritate a park ranger - but actively *stopping* it is clearly exaggerating.
posted by sonika at 12:52 PM on July 17, 2012


yeh, i've been to Geysir, too. Even if you could plug it up, you'd be putting yourself at REALLY high risk of wish-it-was-lethal levels of 2nd degree burns. In fact I got burned a bit a couple of times from standing in the "right" places.
posted by lodurr at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2012


Seriously, what if he made some of this up? What does that do to the story for people here? How does it make you feel about it?

The hotel robbery is verifiable if you're willing to put the work in, as probably is the Yellowstone story. But I'm thinking both of those are fake.

For me, I decided this was a bunch of stuff that was so over-the-top & larger-than-life that it would engage people and hook them in, with the whole payoff being the closer: 'those were big stupid things done once, here's a little stupid thing done for a long time and this is what it cost me and someone I love.'

I read it as a tall tale with a true end.
posted by lodurr at 1:14 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Seriously, what if he made some of this up? What does that do to the story for people here? How does it make you feel about it?

It makes me wonder whether any of it is true.
posted by grouse at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2012


(warning, Fox news link). A 59-year-old Utah man who died last week wrote his own obituary, confessing to several indiscretions that his widow says are true.
posted by gaspode at 1:33 PM on July 17, 2012


Hm. But they don't say which ones she says are true.

That said, they seem to be implying that one of them is the clerical error PhD. Which I had on the 'fake' column just 'cuz it sounded so darn Helleresque.
posted by lodurr at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2012


What a wonderful autobituary (love that word).

How much is true, how much is not, seems irrelevant. What shines through is the man's great love - for life, for his wife, for love, for hijinks and creativity.

The world, his wife, his friends, Mefi readers - we're all better for his meander through this world.
posted by lometogo at 2:01 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


we're all better for his meander through this world.

I'm not sure this is true.
posted by grouse at 2:06 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine who's an editor of a small-town newspaper just posted yesterday on FB that someone submitted an obituary saying that the deceased person had "a shit-ton" of nieces and nephews.

I don't yet know if she did the right thing and printed it that way.
posted by dlugoczaj at 3:40 PM on July 17, 2012


Well I simply don't know how to think about this until it's completely fact-checked. The universe, in the form of me, deserves as much.
posted by rhizome at 3:40 PM on July 17, 2012


RolandOfEld: "there's a loophole that you can commit murder in the Idaho portion of Yellowstone National Park and get away with it based upon the fact that it's legally impossible for a jury of your peers from the region to be called upon."

Background.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:37 PM on July 17, 2012


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posted by luckynerd at 4:57 PM on July 17, 2012


My parents knew two people who were banned from Disneyland for life. One was banned as a teenager for attempting to liberate a plastic devil from the Hell scene of Mr Toad's Wild Ride. The other was involved in miscellaneous shenanigans precipitated by LSD use (my parent was not with him at the time and I don't think anyone was in any state to remember exactly what had happened) and claimed afterwards that he was handcuffed by Goofy and taken to a jail cell with characters painted on the walls.
posted by town of cats at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2012


I like this idea of writing your own obituary. Any other examples of this around?

Not an obituary as such, rather a death notice:

Struan would like to inform his friends and acquaintances that he fell off his perch on Friday, 11 January 2002, and is to be privately cremated. No flowers please. Donations to Australian Venom Research Unit, Melbourne University.

Struan Sutherland was a researcher at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) in Melbourne who was instrumental in the discovery of antivenoms for Australian spiders, snakes and the like (which are very very venemous).
posted by prettypretty at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2012


Guys I'm beginning to have the nagging suspicion that Royal Tenenbaum didn't actually die tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship
posted by Spatch at 10:04 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other was involved in miscellaneous shenanigans precipitated by LSD use (my parent was not with him at the time and I don't think anyone was in any state to remember exactly what had happened) and claimed afterwards that he was handcuffed by Goofy and taken to a jail cell with characters painted on the walls.

Mickey Mouse dressed up like a traffic cop, holding up a STOP sign? (or in front of one?) I've heard a version of this story too.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:38 AM on July 18, 2012


It's also impossible to "plug it up." You couldn't if you tried. To get a rock big enough to plug the "hole" would be bigger than a person could feasibly lift and the whole thing is surrounded by sulfuric hot springs anyway.

I guess I just don't get where you're going with this factoid and opinions. Because there is a large and powerful geyser, the namesake of all geysers as it turns out, surrounded by a hot spring that makes it untenable for an average person to approach and deposit harmful debris... what? Throwing things in is still very much a party foul and shows a massive disrespect for the natural grandeur that these wonders exhibit.

This isn't even a disputed thing, it's been known since the 1930s...

It is unfortunate that a few individuals choose to deface the remarkably sublime for countless thousands of appreciative visitors. The removal of foreign objects from the hot pools often leaves an ugly wound in the delicate formation that requires years to heal.

"Not content with the defacement of the formations, efforts are constantly being made to destroy the geysers themselves by throwing into them, sticks, stones, logs of wood and all sorts of other obstructions. The eruptive force of several of the geysers has been totally destroyed by vandalism of this character." *
-- Captain Mose Harris, first superintendent of Yellowstone National Park

It's not just a matter of being able to "plug it up" like a cork in a champagne bottle, as you frame it. Throwing things in can cause permanent damage by harming the plumbing of the geyser when the chemicals/sediment facilitates the slow cementing of small things like coins or rocks to the interior of the geyser in between eruptions.

Anyway, I just have a soft spot here for cool, wonderful people like the dude mentioned in the obit but also, and perhaps even more importantly, for protecting the natural wonders we currently enjoy for future generations to enjoy them as well.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:42 AM on July 18, 2012


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