Five-year-old wins hearts by helping pen his own feisty obituary

IOWA • A five-year-old boy in the US whose life was snuffed out by a rare form of cancer last week has lit up the hearts of many with his spunk and humour in his obituary, which he helped write.

"The things I love the most: Playing with my sister, my blue bunny, thrash metal, Legos, my daycare friends, Batman and when they put me to sleep before they access my port," Garrett Michael Matthias said in the obituary published on the website of Hamilton's Funeral & After Life Services.

"Things I hate: Pants! Dirty stupid cancer, when they access my port, needles and the monkey nose that smells like cherry farts."

After listing the things and people he liked and disliked, Garrett dived into the grim topic of how he wanted his funeral and body handled without losing his usual comical style.

"When I die: I am going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!" he said, adding that he wanted his body cremated and the ashes "made into a tree so I can live in it when I'm a gorilla". As for the kind of funeral he wanted, he said: "Funerals are sad: I want five bouncy houses (because I'm five), Batman and snow cones."

Garrett from Van Meter, a small city in Iowa, was first diagnosed last September with alveolar fusion negative rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer which attacked his temporal bone, cranial nerve and inner ear.

Garrett Michael Matthias, who died on July 6 from a rare form of cancer, had the wacky funeral he wished for, with bouncy houses, snow cones and fireworks

"(The doctors) were upfront that chemo is poison, radiation and burns. The other way is to cut it out. You choose and make hard decisions about poisoning, burning and cutting your child," his parents Emilie and Ryan Matthias told the Des Moines Register.

Garrett underwent aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatment before doctors found that the cancer was resistant to treatment and had spread quickly to other parts of his body, according to a GoFundMe page set up in his honour.

It was then that his family decided to give Garrett, who died on July 6, the wacky funeral he wished for: Five bouncy houses, snow cones, other carnival fare and fireworks. His funeral service was held yesterday at his home.

Those who donated money to Garrett's family on GoFundMe also left heartfelt messages for his parents. Since his GoFundMe page was created on July 5, it had raised US$56,586 (S$77,290) as of yesterday. The money will go towards covering Garrett's medical costs and other expenses.

Donor Kimberly Kelsey said: "What a brave, and extremely cool, kid, and what brave and wonderful parents you are to follow through like you have."

Another donor, named Insun Thorlin, wrote: "Garrett, give 'em hell up in heaven!"

In his obituary, his family wrote: "Garrett endured nine months of hell before he lost his battle with cancer.

"During that time, he never lost his sense of humour and loved to tease the doctors and nurses. From whoopy cushions and sneaking clothes pegs on their clothes to 'hazing' the interns and new staff doctors, he was forever a prankster," they added, before signing off with this message: "See ya later, suckas! - The Great Garrett Underpants."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 15, 2018, with the headline 'Five-year-old wins hearts by helping pen his own feisty obituary'. Print Edition | Subscribe