New Brunswicker Michael de Adder is well known for his political cartoons, which are syndicated across North America and read by more than a million readers a day. But it’s his latest work ― a hilariously honest obituary for his mother ― that has been getting all the attention.
The editorial cartoonist’s mother, Margaret Marilyn DeAdder, died on Jan. 21, after a long illness with Alzheimer’s disease. Her son began her obituary by fondly remembering her as “a professional clipper of coupons, baker of cookies, terror behind the wheel, champion of the underdog, ruthless card player, and self-described Queen Bitch.”
It’s not your typical opener, but then Marilyn, as most people called her, was no ordinary mom.
“She excelled at giving the finger, taking no shit and laughing at jokes, preferably in the shade of blue.”
Many lines seemed to start innocently enough, then quickly took unexpected turns. “Marilyn loved all children who weren’t her own and loved her own children relative to how clean-shaven they were,” de Adder wrote, adding that “She excelled at giving the finger, taking no shit and laughing at jokes, preferably in the shade of blue.”
“The standard obituary is kind of depressing and cold and just in a point by point [form], points out any milestones without any colour, so I knew I wasn’t going to do that,” the cartoonist shared, in a radio interview with CBC Moncton’s Jonna Brewer. “I knew it was going to be somewhat funny. But it sort of got out of hand. Things just kept coming and it sort of wrote itself.”
The lovingly honest son was quick to list his mom’s shortcomings, as well as her unique talents: “She did not excel at suffering fools, hiding her disdain, and putting her car in reverse.” And he listed his mother’s hobbies as “painting, quilting, baking, gardening, hiking,” and more surprisingly, “arson.”
“While her sons committed unspeakable crimes against humanity, her granddaughters could do no wrong.”
He captured his mother’s fierce devotion to her three boys, saying:
“Marilyn is survived by her three ungrateful sons, Michael (Gail), Paul and David (Trudy), whose names she never got completely right, and whose jokes she didn’t completely understand.
Michael is a veteran cartoonist, whose work regularly appears in the National Post, Toronto Star and Macleans among other large-circulation media publications. He was once described, by fellow cartoonist and president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists as “the poster boy for the Anti-Trump movement.” Paul has a successful career in real estate, in Toronto; and David is a golfing professional, living in New Brunswick.
On a more sentimental note, the obituary added: “Everything she did, she did for her sons.”
De Adder also drew loving attention to the huge disparity in how his mom treated her own children as opposed to her grandchildren ― so relatable to grown-up kids everywhere:
“While her sons committed unspeakable crimes against humanity, her granddaughters could do no wrong. While her sons grew up on root vegetables and powdered milk (funneled directly into the bag to hide the fact that it was powdered, fooling nobody), her granddaughters were fed mountains of sugary snacks as far as the eye could see, including her world-famous cookies and cinnamon rolls.”
Read Marilyn’s full obituary, below. Story continues after the post.
As the family awaits the end of COVID restrictions to throw the “Irish wake” and “celebration of life” Marilyn always wanted, de Adder finished up his obituary on a heartwarming note, by suggesting loved ones honour his mother in a different way:
“In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you do something nice for somebody else unexpectedly, and without explanation.”
In his CBC interview, Adder attributed his own sharp sense of humour to his mother’s, even though their style of humour was different. “I doubt I’d be a cartoonist without the mom I had,” he said.
Reflecting on the overall tone of his homage, he noted, “The obituary sort of feels like a standard Christmas or a holiday.” As in so many homes, the grown-up kids would all come home and gas up their mother at the family table.
“We used to tease her a lot,” he said. “And she would love it.”
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