Utah man Val Patterson died on July 10th, but the obituary he wrote for himself to be published after he died is a rare and humorous example of interesting content in a normally laced-up section of the newspaper.
Chances are you didn’t know of Val Patterson until perhaps you clicked through to his obituary — the Salt Lake City man was just an average Joe, but his final transmission revealed a few secrets.
Patterson was only 59 when he succumbed to throat cancer, and a lesser man might have ruminated on how, by today’s standards, 59 is a very young age at which to call time. But if he was riddled with regrets or longing, it wasn’t apparent (mostly) in the obituary he put together that was, more than anything, a moving ode to appreciating the life and time you have while you’re here.
Patterson’s first shout out is to his wife, a woman named Mary Jane who he credits with much of his happiness, and he explains:
“But, the one special thing that made my spirit whole, is my long love and friendship with my remarkable wife, my beloved Mary Jane. I loved her more than I have words to express. Every moment spent with my Mary Jane was time spent wisely. Over time, I became one with her, inseparable, happy, fulfilled.”
“I enjoyed one good life. Traveled to every place on earth that I ever wanted to go. Had every job that I wanted to have. Learned all that I wanted to learn. Fixed everything I wanted to fix. Eaten everything I wanted to eat. My life motto was: ‘Anything for a Laugh’. Other mottos were ‘If you can break it, I can fix it’, ‘Don’t apply for a job, create one’. I had three requirements for seeking a great job; 1 – All glory, 2 – Top pay, 3 – No work.”
But Patterson has two major reveals on the event of his death, admitting to a theft and a deception:
“As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest.”
“Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters ‘PhD’ even stood for.”
But no harm, no foul, Val says:
“For all of the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I’m sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work. Now to that really mean Park Ranger; after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again. 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.”
Patterson also had a chance to see the world change so very much with technology, but he still believes America’s golden era was in his earlier days, and he describes a country many of us did not get to see:
“We grew up in the very best time to grow up in the history of America. The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs, buying a car for ‘a buck a year’ – before Salt Lake got ruined by over population and Lake Powell was brand new. TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives. We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody – we did a good job at that.”
But Patterson does express one major regret, and he explains that smoking is a choice he wishes he had not made:
“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.”