My Solemn Duty
I somehow became the obituary writer.
Every person in a family has their own role: the fixer, the clown, the rebel, the overachiever, the risk-taker, the bully.
For the three kids in our blended family, for example, my stepson is the chill, cautious one; my daughter from my first marriage is the neurotic straight-A student who must do all the things; and our daughter together is the sweet but borderline insane hilarious evil genius.
In my family of origin, also blended, my brother was the charming but disastrous alcoholic/tortured artist (like so many of his kind, he committed suicide); my sister was the fun-time party girl (she also died way too young); and I – the youngest by about 20 years and a product of my father’s third marriage – was the quiet, shy, studious one.
And now? I’m the only one of my dad’s three kids left, and he is the only one of his parents’ three kids left. Somehow along the way – maybe it was because I was always the writer, maybe it was because I went to J-school and wrote hundreds of obituaries, maybe it was because I was the only one willing to do it – I became the one who writes the obits for the family.
First I wrote one for my grandmother. Then, at her request, I wrote my sister’s. I wrote my cousin’s and my aunt’s. Now I find myself writing one for my uncle … and having to swallow hard because I know the next one I write will inevitably be for my dad.
It’s hard to capture someone like my uncle in so few words, but I made a valiant effort.
Gary Paris “Chip” Kidd died Dec. 17, 2020, at his home in Midland, N.C. He was 66.
Born Sept. 3, 1954, to Annette Baker Kidd and Eugene Brownlee Kidd Sr., he was given his lifelong nickname because he was a “chip off the old block.”
After being expelled from Concord High School for participating in an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, he went to live with his beloved older brother, who was attending Stanford Law School, and he graduated from Mountain View High School in California in 1972. He later went on to graduate from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.
A colorful character with a series of wild and hilarious stories to his name and a penchant for alcohol and hard living, he held a series of jobs throughout his life, everything from high school teacher to highway beautification worker. His greatest love, however, was music, and in his later years, he found true joy running his own business, SoundFury, a combination recording studio/barbecue shack that he operated out of his home. He also performed with his own band, MacGruff and the FloAting Opera, frequently while wearing a dog mask to evoke McGruff the Crime Dog. He also was a loving and devoted son who doted on his mother and cared for her during a lengthy illness until her death in 2002.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Elizabeth “Libby” Kidd Biggs; his niece, Ashley Kidd; and two nephews, Scott Kidd and Stewart Mauldin.
He leaves behind his older brother, Eugene B. Kidd Jr., of New Orleans; three nieces, Eve (Robert) Peyton of New Orleans, Deborah (Woody) Holloway of Alabama, and Kelly (Chuck) Dosher of Virginia; as well as a host of grandnieces and –nephews and many local friends.
Cremation was handled by Boston’s-Roseboro’s Mortuary. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial service will be held at a later date.
It never feels like enough. There’s no way to capture someone like my uncle – or my sister, my cousin, my aunt – in a few short words.
But this is now my role in the family, and I consider it an honor.
To be the family scribe. The record-keeper. The holder and documenter of official written memories.
I’m not eager to write anymore. I absolutely am not ready to write my father’s.
When the time comes, though, I will do it, and I will do my best. It’s my job. It’s my duty. It’s my familial function.
But I don’t want to consider who will write mine.