Posted in Uncle


On my nightstand is a laminated clipping of my father’s obituary from the local newspaper, printed just days after his death.

I have held onto this piece of plastic that encases this clipping since I was two years old.  The paper has yellowed over the past four decades, despite the plastic protection.  The words on the opposite side of the page have bled through, but the words that matter are still perfectly clear.

I have held it in my hands so many times that I know exactly how sharp the edges are, how smooth the plastic face is, and now, in my adult hands, it is four fingers across in width.

There were nights when I was particularly lonely and swept up in my loss, when I slept with it in my hands.  I would wake and feel it there and be reminded of the sadness and heartache I felt as I was falling to sleep.

The obituary says so much, yet it omits so much more.

My father’s obituary reads:

Funeral services will be held Saturday for Arnal D. Bray, 26, who died in a Waterville shooting incident Tuesday night.

It does not tell you he was shot twice by his best friend.

A native of Waterville, Bray was born March 19, 1947, the son of R. and L. Bray.

It does not tell you his parents were scarred, with wounds so deep they wore them on the outside for their entire lives.  These people who believed in the good of others, who were always the first to offer help to someone in need, were shown just how cruel the world could be.

He was graduated from Lawrence High School, Fairfield, in 1967.  He was a member of Fairfield Lodge, 100F, and of the Shawmut Chapel.

It does not point out that he was twenty when he graduated, proof of his rebellious nature.

A veteran of military service in Vietnam, Bray was employed at Scott Paper Co.

It does not tell you of all he saw in the war.  It does not tell you that he saw babies die.  Women.  Men.  Old. Young.  All dead.  All covered in flies. It does not tell you that he struggled to process all that he witnessed.

Survivors include his widow, Mrs. A. Bray of Fairfield; his parents, of Shawmut; one daughter, Nichole Bray, of Fairfield; two brothers, one sister … several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

It does not tell you that the hole he left behind was so vast. That each of the people, even those who were lumped as nieces, aunts, cousins, felt his loss deeply.  They felt the reach of the frightening world. They realized that harrowing things didn’t happen only to strangers.  They didn’t happen just in the cities, they happened in their small town, to someone they knew, to someone they loved, to someone they laughed with.  The world became a far more serious and somber place.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at L Bros. Funeral Home, where friends may call today from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m.

It does not tell you the way my grandmother cried, the way her heart was more than broken…it was truly decimated.

It does not tell you how hard my grandfather tried to be strong for the family, his wife, his surviving children.

It does not tell you how my aunts and uncles did their best to support their parents, while they were falling apart inside at the sight of their parents’ devastation and heartbreak.

It does not tell you how another piece of my mother died.  It does not tell you I wasn’t there.  That my presence was never even up for discussion.

Bray.  Arnal D. — In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Shawmut Chapel.

This obituary does not tell you my father was magnetic, charming, funny, handsome, dynamic.  It does not tell you he would never be forgotten, never minimized, never truly gone.

I’ve often thought about the person who typed up my father’s obituary.  I’ve thought about him sitting at his typewriter, putting into words the most basic information.  The facts.  That’s what an obituary is.  Truly, just the most basic of facts.  There is no color, no emotion, no compassion.  Just dates, lists of family members, just facts.

The rest, well, the rest lies with those who have lost.

So That You May Know Her…

Dear Katie and Matthew,

Your grandmother is lying in a hospital bed tonight and she is dying. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but very soon.

Daddy is with her, holding her hand and telling her just how much we all love her.

Neither of you will remember her and that breaks my heart.

There is so much about her that I want you both to know.

She was dynamic. She could quote Shakespeare, discuss philosophy, and sing and play the guitar. Daddy tells a childhood story of camping with her–he remembers her sweet voice singing over the crackling of the campfire. I wish I could have heard that.  I wish you could have heard that.

She was eclectic. I will never forget the outfit she wore to your Uncle Todd’s graduation. She was dressed from head to toe in the most vibrant shade of turquoise, complete with floppy hat and arms adorned with bangle bracelets that just sparkled in the sunlight. She was lit from within in that wild outfit and it suited her beautifully.

She was intelligent. She was a well-respected trauma nurse who pursued her education while raising three young boys. She saw so much in her days as a nurse that made her even more compassionate and empathetic.

She was kind. She was quick to tell you why you were special to her. She was so generous with her words and never missed an opportunity to tell you exactly what made you unique. Sometimes, she would make me blush with her compliments, but I always appreciated and welcomed them.

She was whimsical. She loved astrology and loved to tell you what your sign meant and how it impacted you. Daddy and I would roll our eyes, but that didn’t stop her–she believed it and it was endearing.

She was the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. Her glass, even in the most difficult of times, was always half full. When life dealt her a terrible hand, she found inner strength that astonished us.

She will live on in your daddy, who is the man that he is because of her. She taught him to be a gentleman, to be kind and courteous. It was from her that he learned how to treat women and how to respect others.

I want you each to know that she loved you. She was so happy to have grandchildren and you made her just light up. She exuded happiness when she spoke of all of the fun that you would have with her as you grew and I’m so sorry that you won’t have that opportunity. She would have caused all sorts of fun trouble with you.  She truly looked forward to being, in her words, “your partner in crime.”

I am so truly sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to know her.

I promise to share all of my stories with you. I will do all that I can to keep her alive in my memory so that I can share her with you both.

She has had such a rough time of it. Now it is time for us to wish her peace.

With all of my love,

Listen to Your Momma

Katie was gifted a HUGE stack of books by her aunt and uncle over the weekend. Amongst them was “My Momma Likes to Say,” written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan.

Packed with idioms, proverbs, maxims, and clichés, including “you’re the apple of my eye,” “money doesn’t grow on trees,” “it’s raining cats and dogs,” and my personal favorite, “I have eyes in the back of my head,” this book is great fun for both the reader and the listener. I love the way the author marries literal and figurative meaning.

Lexile, a free online reading metric, recommends this particular book for ages 4-10. If you haven’t already checked out the Lexile site, prepare to fall in love. By simply entering the name of a book or its author, the database will provide you with an appropriate age/reading level, pulling from a database of thousands of titles. (It would take a dedicated post to even begin to explain all that you can do on the site.)

A quick search shows that “My Momma Likes to Say” can be found at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Happy reading!

Reason #37 Why Having a Preschooler Rocks

Need to bake a cake for a special occasion?  Cookies for your husband’s office?  Have your preschooler help.  If your treats come out inedible/disgusting, simply say, “Our little one just loves to bake.  Isn’t she cute?”

Katie and I baked a cake today for my uncle’s birthday and I am a hit or miss baker at best.  But, with Katie’s help, I had a built-in disclaimer and  I couldn’t lose.   She’s pretty handy like that.

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
More about Nichole
  • @NicholeBeaudryon Twitter
  • Nichole on Pinterest
  • Nichole on Instagram
  • Nichole on Facebook
  • Nichole on LinkedIn
  • Subscribe to this site's RSS
  • Contact this author

I also write at

all Parenting
She Knows Parenting

Instagram photos