Myrtle McFaul announced her death in poetry and danced her way into heaven.
Mert, as she preferred, was that kind of woman.
She loved life and enjoyed living it to the fullest. She had a marvelous attitude that buoyed those who knew her. Even in death, she made her dying less traumatic for mourners.
Most of all there was no pretense.
It was evident in the poetry of her obituary.
It was a chronological, personal history of her coming to earth, her parents, her siblings, her lover and friend, Rollie; and their offspring.
There was no mention of good deeds and accomplishments that often dominate self written obituaries. There were many during her 83 years.
Judy McDaniel, recalled how Mert would show up to help her with the (Wolf River) theater. Judy said, “She would help with tickets, promotions and even ushering.”
Mert had a positive perspective about life and death, which were evident at her wake and service at Cline-Hanson Funeral Home.
“She had everything planned in detail,” said Kent Rusch. “She spent a lot of time writing her obituary and the showing – including the end.”
Containers of her cherished caramels were available to the visitors as were copies of the secret ingredients.
She wore a T-shirt with: “My shirt used to fit a lot better when I was younger.”
A hand-written plaque putting life and death in perspective sat at the head of the casket.
Even now Mert was an inspiration, including this writer.
She was a faithful reader and contributor to columns.
“What’s happening with our country?” she asked a few years ago.
Mert’s concern was how to take care of people’s needs more timely, more efficiently and personally with the goal of remedying the problems.
She remembered how a few local people running similar programs in the 1960s – when I began my professional writing career – were able to provide directly and usually with a better outcome, than programs today.
Mert believed in good neighbor responsibility.
There is a routine to meeting people for the first time – at the end stool or while pushing a cart down an aisle of a store. I usually greet everybody and if they stop, the instincts of a reporter kick in.
After attaining general information, the interrogation progresses to seeking information about familial ties to people from my past, what they do, etc.
Normally, Mert would be the person I was looking for as the connection upon meeting somebody for the first time. Instead, the search for the familial tie began with her.
My first connection with the family was Mert’s granddaughter, Andrea, a couple decades ago. She was a New London High School classmate of my “adopted nephew” Jason Besaw.
Andrea was energetic, ambitious, friendly and down to earth. She worked as a waitress, went on to school, and returned to New London working for Cline Hanson. She currently does landscaping in the Fox Cities.
Andrea did not undergo the usual interrogation because of her association with Jason. Both are two of my favorite people, who enjoy bantering with an old guy.
Her dad Lee, who lived on the shore of the Wolf River in Northport, was my first data in the McFaul information bank.
After getting to know Mert, I knew where Andrea got the unique qualities that distinguish a person. The genes are present in Mert’s offspring I have met.
Rev. Kate Croskery-Jones, her minister, closed the funeral service asking people to join in dancing as the last wish of Mert.
Angels danced with joy as their multitude grew with a new angel.