Such silly things, like you can describe a whole person in a few paragraphs.
The one in the paper/on the funeral home site isn’t bad, even if I do think that referring to my mom as Jon’s “long-time companion” makes her sound like either a live-in nurse or a canine. Is partner really so hard to say? Yes, they’re a heterosexual couple and yes, they never married or lived together (they each had been married before, and didn’t want to do *that* again). But partner’s the closest she got to identifying their relationship, although most of the time she called him “my farmer.” I suppose the obit would have read funny if it said Jon was survived by “his warden.”
Still, hard to express even part of who someone is in a handful of sentences.
My uncle described Jon even better, I think, in his email to the extended family:
Rebecca Clark has asked me to help her spread the word on behalf of Celeste Marie about the death this past weekend of Jon Choate due to congestive heart failure. His passing was not entirely unexpected, as this past year sadly saw his condition decline after a long struggle with kidney failure and other issues.
I do not know how many of you had the opportunity to meet Jonathan – he had been Celeste’s partner for more than 19 years now. While they continued to live 35 miles apart even after Rebecca and Sarah went off on their own, Celeste spent much of her time with Jon, his cows, and his family. These past few years, Celeste was with Jon for his myriad dialysis and medical appointments, much as they shared chores on the farm and family celebrations.
Jonathan died while Celeste was away celebrating Christmas with her daughters, sons-in-law and granddaughter. I’m sure she was both comforted by being surrounded by family, and heartbroken to have been absent.
During this Christmas season, we are reminded of the light that Christ Incarnate brings to this world. A light that shines through to our hearts to bring Joy, even during times of great sadness. I pray that this Joy warms all your hearts and homes this holiday season and throughout the coming year, and ask you to keep Celeste, Jonathan and their extended family in your prayers.
And, as many of you have asked, yes I am going to be officiating the memorial service. My relationship with Jon, while I call him my stepfather and I do love him, is through my mom, and she’s the one who needs me right now. I challenge anyone to look at a parent’s big weepy eyes and say no to *anything*. Yes, sometimes, the distance of infamiliarity is much easier, and sometimes we do the thing we know how to do to stand with the ones we love in pain.