In between imparting his life motto ("anything for a laugh") and apologizing to his wife of 33 years, Mary Jane, for his smoking habit that "robbed" her "of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together," Salt Lake City resident Val Patterson, who passed away last week of throat cancer, managed to author one of the most amazing autobiographical obituaries ever published.
An artisan and a scientist, Patterson's life was sadly cut short at 59, but the man who believed he could fix anything that could be broken seemed to have lived it to the fullest.
"I enjoyed one good life," Patterson wrote last fall, anticipating his imminent demise. "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."
Patterson had a few regrets as well, but, unlike Sinatra, felt the need to mention them in his obit.
"As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971," he wrote. "I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest."
Patterson went on to confess to having rolled rocks into Old Faithful to get back at a "really mean Park Ranger." He was also banned for life from Disneyland and SeaWorld San Diego — though he leaves out why.
By far the most astonishing confession, however, is that Patterson never earned his PhD.
"I didn't even graduate," he writes, " only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters "PhD" even stood for." Patterson regrets misleading the electronic engineers he's worked with over the years, but asked them to take it easy on him. "You have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work."
Before signing off, Patterson leaves readers with one last nugget of wisdom: "If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did."