New Brunswick

Cartoonist writes mom Marilyn DeAdder's obituary — and it'll make you laugh out loud

Margaret Marilyn DeAdder died earlier this week, but her sense of humour will live forever.

'Her lifelong hobbies included painting, quilting, baking, gardening, hiking and arson'

Margaret Marilyn DeAdder died earlier this week, but her sense of humour will live forever. (Cobb's Funeral Home & Cremation Center)

The only thing Margaret Marilyn DeAdder loved more than tea and toast — was reheating tea and toast.

"She burned many a teapot and caused smoke damage countless times, leaving her kids with the impression that fanning the smoke alarm was a step in brewing tea."

That's a sneak peak into the life of 78-year-old Marilyn DeAdder — the "clipper of coupons, baker of cookies and terror behind the wheel," who died  this week.

In the obituary, her son, the award-winning cartoonist Michael de Adder, pokes fun at his mom's ability to give the finger as well as her inability to put her car in reverse. 

'A champion of the underdog'

De Adder said his mom, who he refers to as Marilyn, was also "a champion of the underdog, ruthless card player, and self-described Queen Bitch."

She also loved the spotlight and was the life of every party.

So when her obituary went viral this week, de Adder knew his mother would've been pleased.

"My mother was a ham," he said. "She liked to be the centre of attention, not in a bad way, as a joking way."

I doubt I'd be a cartoonist without the mom I had.- Michael de Adder

In her obituary, de Adder described his mom as a lifelong volunteer at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, "which her sons suspected was her way of seeing all the shows for free."

She was also a trained hairdresser and enjoyed styling people's hair in her kitchen, "so much so her kitchen smelled of baking and perm solution."

She loved her three sons, except when they weren't clean-shaven.

"At least one of them would ruin Christmas every year by coming home with facial hair, and never forgot that one disastrous Christmas in which all three sons showed up with beards."

And she adored her granddaughters, feeding them mountains of sugary snacks.

"While her sons committed unspeakable crimes against humanity, her granddaughters could do no wrong," the obituary said.

And she was also funny — a trait the New Glasgow native passed onto her three sons. 

"I doubt I'd be a cartoonist without the mom I had."

Mom's obituary needed 'a splash' of humour 

Before writing his mother's obituary, de Adder perused through a few others for inspiration. But none of them were Marilyn. 

"The standard obituary is depressing and cold," he said.

He knew Marilyn's write-up would need "a splash" of humour — and a dig or two about how she always found time in her busy life to run her children's lives.

Then the story wrote itself.

Before writing Marilyn's obituary, cartoonist Michael de Adder read through a number of obituaries. But none of them reflected his mom's sharp sense of humour. And that's where it all began. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

"It seemed like every line had a punch line … it took off in a strange direction naturally."

The eldest of three said the obituary felt more like a Christmas homecoming, where he and his brothers would spend the holidays teasing their mom — which she loved, of course.

After the obit was posted, hundreds of people who knew Marilyn and people who didn't, were coming out of the woodwork sharing condolences, fond memories and many more laughs.  

"It sort of got out of hand."

A different kind of spotlight 

De Adder said his mom died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease Tuesday.

"Marilyn, ever the penny-pincher, decided to leave this world on the day Moncton went into red-alert, her sons believe, to avoid paying for a funeral."

During an interview with Information Morning Moncton on Friday, de Adder said he wasn't ready for his mom to go this week.

"We sort of think she bowed out."

But he said Marilyn would've been thrilled about the prospects of being talked about on CBC radio.

"This is a different spotlight," de Adder said. "She wouldn't expect this."

In honour of their mom, Marilyn's family asks that people do something nice for someone else unexpectedly, and without explanation.

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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