Before Garrett Matthias lost his battle to cancer, he and his parents decided to take on his obituary and funeral in a unique way — by letting the five-year-old boy from Iowa prepare it.
In September, Garrett was first diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer that attacked his bone, cranial nerve and inner ear. He died on July 6.
During the family’s time in the hospital, they met other children battling with pediatric cancer. Garrett’s mother, Emile Matthias, told the Des Moines Register, after going to many of funerals for the children, Garrett started asking why they came home sad.
“He would say, ‘Why are funerals so sad? I’m going to have bouncy houses at mine,” Matthias told the Des Moines Register.
That’s when Emile and her husband began to write down their son’s comments about dying, such as turning into a star or becoming a gorilla.
Garrett spent months in the hospital undergoing aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, but despite the “nine months of hell” that he endured, his mother said he never lost his sense of humour.
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“From whoopee cushions and sneaking clothespins on their clothes to ‘hazing’ the interns and new staff doctors, he was forever a prankster,” his family said.
In mid-June, the doctors told Garrett’s parents that his cancer had spread throughout his body and was terminal. Matthias said they knew they didn’t want to give him a typical funeral, so decided to ask him questions about it.
“We really tried to use his words, and the way that he talked,” Matthias said. “Garrett was a very unique individual. What I really didn’t want was for his obituary to be ordinary and to have a really sad funeral. We’ve cried oceans of tears for the last nine months.”
The questions turned into an obituary, which his parents said, was as unique as Garrett was.
In his obituary, he expressed his love for Batman, Thor, thrash metal, his blue bunny and playing with his sister. He hated needles, pants and the illness.
“I am going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!” Garrett said, adding that for his burial he wanted to be burned (like Thor) and made into a tree so he can live in it when he is a gorilla.
And for Garrett’s funeral, he wanted five bouncy houses, (one for every year of his age), Batman, fireworks and snow cones.
He then signed off the obituary with: “See ya later, suckas! – The Great Garrett Underpants.”
His parents said they will honour Garrett’s wishes at his celebration of life on Saturday — even the Thor burial detail.
According to the Des Moines Register, a neighbour of the family offered his pond so they could float a small boat while they hired a local archer to shoot a flaming arrow into it for an Asgardian-themed pyre.
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