"See ya later, suckas! — The Great Garrett Underpants"
July 11, 2018 9:53 PM   Subscribe

It's sad when a five-year-old dies of cancer, but this is the most fun funeral and obituary you have ever heard of. Garrett Michael Matthias died at age 5 after a nine month battle with cancer, but he's going to have the best funeral ever.

"Before The Great Garrett Underpants died, he asked for five bounce houses at a memorial service, one for each year of his life. Batman, his favorite superhero, will be there, along with snow cones, as he requested.
It will include fireworks at sunset, along with "a symbolic Asgardian burial ceremony."
Through "nine months of hell," Garrett never once lost his sense of humor, his parents wrote in their son's obituary. It lists not only the things he loved, but also those he didn't — like pants.
And it said that after he dies, he wants to become a gorilla and "throw poo at Daddy!"
He also preferred cremation to burial — for a good, practical reason, according to the obituary, which said: "I want to be burned (like when Thor's Mommy died) and made into a tree so I can live in it when I'm a gorilla."
His parents plan to do their best to honor his wishes, writing: "A private burial of Garrett's ashes will be held at a later time once his parents figure out how the hell to get his ashes made into a tree and locate a nature preserve, so his tree resides in a protected area."
""Garrett endured nine months of hell before he lost his battle with cancer. During that time he never lost his sense of humor and loved to tease the doctors and nurses. From whoopy cushions and sneaking clothespins on their clothes to 'hazing' the interns and new staff doctors, he was forever a prankster. Nothing caught people off guard as his response to 'see ya later alligator':
"See ya later, suckas! — The Great Garrett Underpants," the obituary concluded."

It looks like Garrett wrote most of his obituary himself. In reality, his parents started writing down what he said.

On the one hand, I'm sad we lost what sounds like a freaking awesome kid who could have been a great star in entertainment in another fifteen years. On the other hand, this is like, the happiest obituary/funeral notice I've ever seen (in some respects) and it sounds like the funeral will be a really great time.
posted by jenfullmoon (27 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I used to get pizza deliveries to a childhood cancer clinic sometimes, and it was emotionally hard even to visit that world.
posted by thelonius at 10:01 PM on July 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Cool kid puts "fun" back into "funeral".
posted by b33j at 11:28 PM on July 11, 2018 [17 favorites]

what a stupid world. what a stupid disease. rest easy, garrett. thanks for being awesome.

posted by quadrilaterals at 11:34 PM on July 11, 2018 [18 favorites]

Goodness, what a swell, marvelous little dude. Thank you for being here for as long as you could be, Garrett. The world around you is clearly better for it. May all your dreams of being a gorilla next time come true. They are pretty epic, aren't they?
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:48 PM on July 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

What an awesome kid. I hope (and expect) his family will be pleased his celebration of life has so much of his personality and humour infused into it.

Goodbye, Great Garret Underpants!! Hope there's a whoopie cushion on every seat at the funeral.
posted by chapps at 12:09 AM on July 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

posted by james33 at 3:15 AM on July 12, 2018

I didn't think I'd regret my impulse to not break into a bouncy castle on the way home tonight, but yet again I'm rethinking my decisions...

Godspeed, Garrett

posted by talking leaf at 3:50 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Teared up a bit on that one. These stories become so much harder when you have young kids.
posted by Telf at 5:00 AM on July 12, 2018 [10 favorites]

Well shit. It's 5AM, I've been up all night on a work issue, and now I'm sobbing and wanting to hug my sleeping kid.
posted by erst at 5:10 AM on July 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

"I want to be burned (like when Thor's Mommy died) and made into a tree so I can live in it when I'm a gorilla."

So say we all, little man. Ave atque vale.

posted by Halloween Jack at 5:30 AM on July 12, 2018 [19 favorites]

Teared up so much I had to run to the work bathroom blinking valiantly before all my eye make up could be destroyed. What a champ, what an amazing little kid, what a fucking awful disease. Fuck cancer. I hate it SO MUCH.

posted by Ziggy500 at 5:32 AM on July 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

High fives for all eternity, Garrett.
May all your gorilla poo cling well enough to fling true.

posted by DigDoug at 6:12 AM on July 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

See, now I too feel morally bound to break into a bouncy castle.

posted by Jilder at 6:41 AM on July 12, 2018

Aw crap... now I need to know what was so surprising about his response to See you later, Aligator?

... because if it wasn't just After while crocodile... he took the secret to his grave! or at least not to his obituary...


posted by Nanukthedog at 6:44 AM on July 12, 2018

posted by nikaspark at 6:51 AM on July 12, 2018

Aw crap... now I need to know what was so surprising about his response to See you later, Aligator?

... because if it wasn't just After while crocodile... he took the secret to his grave! or at least not to his obituary...

I assumed it was
See ya later, suckas!
posted by zamboni at 7:03 AM on July 12, 2018 [11 favorites]

I'm in my fifties and going to more funerals than I used to, and for the most part I think we are getting slightly better about how we die. The seventy year olds are not being mourned as much as celebrated, and consequently the whole thing is far less depressing than ten or fifteen years ago. (Lately I've been lucky enough to avoid the deaths of anyone not drawing social security; funerals for the young are a much, much different matter.)

Regarding Garrett, it sounds like they figured out how to implement many of his wishes. Should be a blast. (Kind of a lot of pressure on the archer though.)

Garrett's day care found five bouncy houses for his funeral. There will be snow cones, other carnival fare and fireworks. A neighbor is allowing the family to use their pond to float a small boat carrying Garrett's ashes while a local archer will shoot a flaming arrow onto the structure for a truly "Asgardian" send-off.
posted by Cris E at 7:05 AM on July 12, 2018 [12 favorites]

I've told my kids more than once (too many times more, actually, these days) that a wake should be loud: the room should ring with remembered stories and renewed laughter, it I want mine to sound like a cocktail party.

I bet Young Master Garrett's wake will be plenty loud, which....should help cover the quiet sobbing.

Ah, hell, little guy, you sound like you were a handful but a joy. Godspeed.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2018 [8 favorites]

posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 8:38 AM on July 12, 2018

oh my, this is amazing but I can't really process it at the moment. the first major non-grandparent type death in my life was a 5 year old with cancer. even many many years later its a tender spot of course...

rest in awesomeness, Gorilla Garrett
posted by supermedusa at 8:42 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by RedOrGreen at 9:36 AM on July 12, 2018

Tonight's afterpants time is being dedicated to your memory, Mighty Underpants.
posted by whuppy at 10:04 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


My favorite Erma Bombeck book is I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Go to Boise.
Wheat wanted Bombeck to write an optimistic pamphlet or booklet for children with cancer and their families.

Bombeck was reluctant. She couldn’t see anything light or funny about children with cancer. Then she visited Camp Sunrise and fell down the rabbit’s hole into a new world of humor. The kids at the camp did typical kid things like sneaking out at night to swim and having food fights. But they also had a unique brand of humor. Some of the boys, for instance, placed bets on who could withstand chemotherapy the longest without throwing up. And one girl said she wouldn’t let a doctor work on her unless that doctor could first solve a Rubik’s cube.
Bombeck decided that she may not know how cancer worked, but she knew kids, and these were kids. Not mentioned in the article: that the kids have races in hospital halls while holding on to their IV stands. That was another of the deciding "I can write this" factors for her - kids doing incredibly dangerous things to have fun with other kids was well within her scope.

Sounds like Garrett packed as much fun as he could into a short life.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:33 AM on July 12, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oh geez, the picture in his obituary says so much about this awesome little guy. Have fun as a gorilla, Garrett.

posted by Fig at 10:33 AM on July 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was reading the article and obituary this morning and was just crying. I went and researched "The Living Urn" for his parents to see if it was legit. What a great and amazing kid. And I love his parents so much for letting their son shine through in his obituary instead of something generic.

Fuck cancer.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

We do seem to be getting there ("Fuck cancer"), albeit slowly. This seems to have people excited. And that whole "cancer cells rehoming/self-seeding " thing is news to me.

CRISPR Makes Cancer Cells Turncoats That Attack Their Tumor
posted by aleph at 3:44 PM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Garrett has now made the New York Times.

"And when someone told him, “See ya later, alligator,” he would catch them off guard with “See ya later, suckas!”

His obituary reflected a blend of his boyhood and the treatments he endured. In a section titled “The things I love the most,” it said: “Playing with my sister, my blue bunny, thrash metal, Legos, my day care friends, Batman and when they put me to sleep before they access my port.”

He was known around the hospital as “Garrett Underpants” because he hated wearing pants or shorts, Ms. Matthias said. One day, he said he would be a professional boxer, and his name would be “The Great Garrett Underpants.”

They had planned to travel to Florida through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but Garrett’s illness was too severe, so he instead visited the Omaha Zoo last month.

“He got to interact with the gorillas and he had a great time,” Ms. Matthias said.

But the trip was cut short.

“We went to the zoo on Friday morning and by Friday night he couldn’t walk,” she said, adding that the cancer had spread to his spinal cord.

Garrett’s grandfather, Fred Krueger, built a 2-foot-long ceremonial boat adorned with a shield that Garrett got at a Renaissance festival, Ms. Matthias said. The boat will be set afloat on a neighbor’s pond, while an archer shoots a burning arrow into the sky.

Building the boat for Garrett’s funeral was the least he could do.

“I would have gladly taken his place and died for him if he could have lived, but you know you can’t do that,” he said. “God doesn’t allow for that.”

posted by jenfullmoon at 3:16 PM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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