When I first started studying journalism, one of the assignments in my reporting class was to write our own obituaries. It's one of those lessons in learning to write about oneself, but not in first person, as a journalist would.
I'd say I have some updating to do since college.
Writing of obituaries is an art. The obituary is often the last record of a person's time on this Earth. Unless there's a biography to be written postmortem. But not everyone is Steve Jobs. Sometimes an obit is the only way a person's life has ever been collectively documented or shown up in print.
Some folks might prefer it that way.
I wrote my own obituary in that class, and have penned many more over the years. I've helped with relatives' obits, and friends. I'm always happy to oblige because the written word can really help in a time of grief. That's why I've written an obit for my dog, Elwood.
Maybe he will get that biography some day.
Elwood Blues Clark died on Nov. 1 in Carbondale. He was likely born on or around April 20, 1998, in New Palestine, Ind. He was found, with his litter mate, in a ditch off a country road and quickly adopted at the young age of six weeks. Many days were spent coming up with names for the twin pups. In the end, Jake and Elwood of "Blues Brothers" fame rose above the rest.
Rumor has it they were on a mission from God.
From the day he was brought home, Elwood was his adoptive mother's baby. As a puppy, he cried at night while his brother Jake peacefully slept. He was always the vocal dog of the two, eager to speak when he learned his basic dog tricks at puppy kindergarten.
And, like his mother, he was often disciplined for talking too much in class.
Elwood spent his younger years in Indiana chasing small animals and barking at the postman. He loved spending time at his grandparents' house, and was known to snuggle with his Grandpa Dave. As was his brother, Elwood was well traveled in the U.S. He ventured to Colorado with his mother and accompanied her on many cross-country road trips to and from Indiana. He traveled to Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, and saw many parts of Colorado. In his adult life, he lived in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, and enjoyed road trips to Winter Park, Steamboat Springs and Denver.
As he approached his golden years, Elwood enjoyed many outdoor activities such as off-road Jeeping and riding in a rickshaw late-night in Carbondale. He was not afraid to try new things, except for maybe sailing and jumping into swimming pools. Elwood loved the dog park and enjoyed playing by the river, chasing small animals - including skunks - and barking at his downstairs neighbor Luke.
Elwood liked to scream his hellos.
He was known for his big brown eyes and love of treats, and pretty much food in general. He loved long walks around town and riding in the car. This was particularly humorous when he and his brother would both stick their heads out the window at stoplights, one on each side of the backseat.
Motorists who pulled up next to me just loved that.
Elwood liked to spoon when he took afternoon naps and was a constant companion to his mother, in sickness and in health. He helped her through gall bladder surgery and, more recently, a mean bout of pneumonia. He was always a good listener, and was quick to lick a face if he saw tears falling. Elwood was the consummate best friend, never judging or criticizing and always ready for a hug or to shake a hand. He was also great at being very, very ornery.
One of the traits that made him special, even in the vet's eyes.
Elwood once survived a tornado with his mom and brother by hiding out in a closet under the stairs of his two-story house in Indianapolis. He loved snow, and was lucky to enjoy the first snowfall of the season this year in Colorado. Elwood was known to belly up to a fire when the weather was brisk and run through the sprinkler when he was out on walks by the park in the summer.
He definitely was the outdoorsy type.
Elwood is preceded in death by his fraternal twin brother, Jake. He is survived by loving parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as many four-legged canine friends and adoptive cousins. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to CARE in Glenwood Springs in Elwood Blues Clark's memory. May his feisty spirit live on through other adopted furry friends.
- April E. Clark wishes her college roommate and best friend Lynne a happy big 4-0 this week. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail. com.