Young boy helps write his own obituary before cancer death: 'See ya later, suckas!'

His memorial service included five bouncy houses, a snow cone machine and Batman

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 16 July 2018 14:18
5-year-old boy helps write his own obituary before tragic cancer death

Five year-old Garrett Matthias was unique in so many ways.

And so, as a rare form of cancer took an ever tighter grip on him, his family thought about how they could celebrate their son’s life in a way he would have approved. To do so, his parents Emilie and Ryan Matthias, planned a memorial service that included bouncy castles, Batman and a snow cone machine - all items he had asked for.

They also prepared an obituary that included many of Garrett’s thoughts and phrases that they had jotted down during their time with him.


“He would say, ‘Why are funerals so sad? I’m going to have bouncy houses at mine’,” Ms Matthias told the Des Moines Register.

“We really tried to use his words, and the way that he talked. 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.”

In such a way, the youngster helped his parents create the obituary in which he outlined what he liked - the colours blue and red and black and green, and Batman and Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and Cyborg. He also listed his dislikes - having to wear trousers and “dirty stupid cancer”.

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He said when he died, he was “going to be a gorilla and throw poo at daddy”.

His parents added: “We are so grateful to the many doctors, nurses, child life specialists, musicians, art therapists, and volunteers that worked tirelessly to cure Garrett of his cancer.

“The reality for Garrett and so many other children is paediatric cancer is an ugly, nasty beast that leaves a path of destruction.”

The youngster, who earned the nickname Garrett Underpants because of his dislike for trousers or shorts, had last year been diagnosed with stage 4 Alveolar Fusion Negative Rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of the disease that attacked his temporal bone and inner ear, rendering it inoperable.

It later spread to brain, triggering headaches of such intensity he could not walk or speak. A month before his death, his family were able to fulfil his wish and take him to visit the gorillas at Nebraska’s Omaha Zoo.

Over the weekend, the family, which has started a GoFundMePage, held a memorial service for the youngster included many elements he requested. The event at their home in Van Meter, 20 miles west of Des Moines, featured five bounce houses, a snow cone machine and Batman.

“He wanted people to come together and celebrate because he did not like funerals,” said Mr Matthias. “He’s been to a few of them. Everybody was very sombre and sad, and he was like, ‘No, my funeral is going to be a happy time’.”

His parents said a private burial of Garrett’s ashes will be held once they discover how to fulfil his request to have his ashes made into a tree and placed in nature reserve.

His parents said the youngster “endured nine months of hell” before he died on July 6.

“During that time he never lost his sense of humour and loved to tease the doctors and nurses,” they wrote.

“From whoopy cushions and sneaking clothes pins on their clothes to ‘hazing’ the interns and new staff doctors, he was forever a prankster. Nothing caught people off guard as his response to ‘see ya later alligator’: ‘See ya later, suckas’ - The Great Garrett Underpants.”

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