In America, we aren't used to reading obituaries in the first person—we have Long Island Mediums if we want to communicate like that. But one dying man's son made it possible for him to leave an incredibly heartfelt apology after death.
Ong Peck Lye was a wealthy businessman from Singapore who died of pneumonia at the age of 82. The quick decline in health gave Lye enough time to have important conversations with his second son, Ong Tiong Yeow, who then translated those sentiments into a first-person poem for his father.
More interesting than the poem, which admits to many faults in life, is the list of survivors at the top. His sons are named in order of birth, even though all were kicked out of the house at some point due to disagreements. The youngest, Ong Tiong Hou, was asked to leave after coming out as gay.
Despite not being able to accept his son as a homosexual in life, Ong Peck Lye acknowledges both his son and his son's life partner, Lye's "son-in-law."
For anyone with a cold father, this is an emotional tribute.
Unfortunately for Lye, these were the realizations that came in the face of death. As his second son told the Straights, "my father died before he had the chance to ask my brothers to forgive him."
The timing of this obit's publication, with its postmortem acceptance of a gay son, was even more poignant on Sunday as many parents grieved over their losses in the attacks at gay nightclub Pulse. Robin Rheaume reposted the obit on her Facebook page and the obituary went viral. Rheaume's post was shared over 1,300 times.
In the poem, Ong Peck Lye honestly admits his deficiencies in life, explaining that the root of his failures as a father and a husband was due to not having a father of his own.
"I never got to see my father be/ A husband to my mother so/I made mistakes being both, trying to be as human as I know."
The obituary sends both a message of acceptance and also one of forgiveness, and is hopefully inspiring others to make things right with their families before it is too late. The emotional impact of his words can be seen in the comments section of Rheaume's post.