Tuesday July 21, 2015
94-year-old Toronto woman's obituary goes viral
more stories from this episode
Mary "Pat" Stocks was a character. The 94-year-old Torontonian died earlier this month, leaving her son, Sandy Stocks, with a tall order: how to pen an obituary for such a vivacious woman. But now, thanks to his unconventional obituary published in the Toronto Star, his touching tribute to his mother has gone viral.
"Driven to do anything and everything," Stocks describes his mother to As It Happens host Laura Lynch. "She was the type that nothing really bothered her...nothing scared her."
The obituary details Stocks' mother's strong-willed personality in all aspects of her life. For instance, Stocks notes her strict parenting techniques and use of "colourful" vocabulary. He explains that if he broke curfew she would wait up "sitting on the bottom stair. And the cuss words...they were unbelievable and then you're grounded for a month."
This stubborn approach extended to the kitchen, where his mother's cooking was just as memorable. "We would sit there and chew and chew," Stocks says, describing the meals always made to please his father who had become used to over-cooked food in the war.
He jokes, "That's where we came up with that 'Stocks Diet' - about coughing and throwing up into your napkin and hiding it between your legs."
The honest and light-hearted tone of the obituary provides an intimate view into a stranger's life and family:
"If you're looking for 2 extremely large TV's from the 90s, a large ceramic stork (we think) umbrella/cane stand, a toaster oven (slightly used) or even a 2001 Oldsmobile with a spoiler (she loved putting the pedal to the metal), with only 71,000 kilometers and 1,000 tools that we aren't sure what they're used for. You should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine. This is not an ad for a pawn shop, but an obituary for a great Woman, Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother born on May 12, 1921..."
Her obituary has struck a chord, attracting world-wide attention.
"[Responses] started flooding in...everyone was going: this is fantastic - we have a dysfunctional family too but we would just never say it," Stocks says.
"I wrote this for the family...I didn't know anyone else would ever get it."
He admits his mother was a private person in a lot of ways and told the family, "Look guys, when I die, I don't want a funeral, I don't want anything...just take my ashes and spread them out at Bloor and Yonge. That's where I kissed your Dad the first time."
But when asked what his mother would have thought of the obituary and the overwhelming response, he quips, "She probably would love the reaction...she may not show it... but she'd be saying how much money did you spend putting that in the paper?"
As Stocks puts it, "I hope she is looking down and laughing her head off".
External link: Toronto Star obituary for Mary 'Pat' Stocks
Watch Sandy Stocks' unconventional tribute to his mother: