Settling old scores on the obituary page

Generally speaking, settling scores in an obituary rarely makes anyone look good. But, according to the obituary in the Redwood Falls Gazette (since removed) in southwestern Minnesota, maybe Gina and Jay have been waiting a long time to exact their revenge. Maybe they feel better about things now.

But I doubt it.

Not surprisingly, nobody has offered any online condolences to the woman’s surviving kin.

(h/t: Mike Worcester)

[Update 9:37 a.m. 6/5] —

[11:59 a.m.] – From the Redwood Falls Gazette:

Thank you for your inquiry.

We have no comment.

Kind Regards,

[1:11 p.m.] – From the Strib.

Dwight Dehmlow, who lives in the Twin Cities, said, “The sad thing about this is there is no rebuttal. There is more to it than this. It’s not simple.”

Dehmlow declined to say more about what went on back then, and he would not explain his relationship to Kathleen Dehmlow.

She had lived in a nursing home for the past year, and her sisters were there when she died, Dwight Dehmlow said.

“She made a mistake 60 years ago, but who hasn’t?” he said. “Has she regretted it over the years? Yes.”

Dwight Dehmlow said he determined Tuesday that Jay is behind the obituary.

“He’s very upset,” the relative said. “He decide to go out with hate. I can’t believe he did this. … This is going to hurt a lot of people.”

  • Easy for me to judge, but it appears their mom got married at 18 or 19 and had an affair with her brother-in-law at 24. Perhaps Mom was awful their whole lives – but wow. Makes me grateful for my super-boring family life.

  • AmyO

    Wow. That is…quite something. Thoughts on whether that obit was years in the making (writing and re-writing it in their heads for years and years) or dashed off in fit of anger after news of their mother’s death?

    • David Butler

      I have strong inclinations to write the same for my dad when he passes. He left three sons to abject poverty and became a ‘born again’ to excuse his actions and started trying to evangelize away his crimes. One son killed himself over it and the other has ended up in jail over it. I’m the only survivor because I was simply too young to know and experience most of it.

      • kevins

        Families are fun…sometimes, bad outcomes are not the kids’ fault.

      • Milkshake

        David I am so sorry for your horrible experience. My dear MIL was abandoned by her mother as a young teen. She never got over it. She did have a relationship with her mother, but she never got past those awful feelings of abandonment. It is such a horrible thing to do to a child. I have seen it time and again how abandonment messes with a child’s mind. So very sad.

        • David Butler

          It’s one of those things I mostly learned about as I got older. I grew up never really knowing my dad, so I was maybe 15 or later before I even knew that he’d run off when I was only 2. And then had a kid with another woman. We went without most needs (my mom naturally wasn’t making a ton of money caring for 3 kids and she was damn lucky my oldest brother was of age to stay home as needed) until all of us were working age and could finally bring some income.

          I deal with it more and more as I get older still. I’m 44, and I have a nearly 4yo son myself who I wouldn’t leave for anything, and so I can’t fathom what kind of person would leave their kids. Certainly I may have been better off for it, right?, but it just makes you wonder what was so wrong with him that he couldn’t even love his own kids enough to even do something like maybe get custody of them for himself or even stay in the same city so that he could at least see us more often. The part that ‘gets me’ tho is the unapologetic nature of the man. He won’t acknowledge wrongdoing or that he failed his kids, even on a material support level (deadbeat support payer). Instead I’ve seen him blame us as nothing more than potential criminals and worse because we haven’t found his god.

          Alas… if I happen to be the only one around when he passes that gets the notification, then yes, I could be inclined to characterize him properly for perpetuity rather than let him go into the night as if he was a good man.

      • JoeInMidwest

        So sad …. my thoughts are with you. My so-called father did the same thing: walked out on 5 kids, married a younger women, and shortly thereafter became evangelical. Total POS. It took me decades to get over the pain. The only regret I now have is not calling him out for his narcissistic behavior.

  • Jim in RF

    Lotta “I wonder if…” in there that it would be good to get her side of. Was it really an affair or something non-consensual? Did the kids confront her in later life? Was marriage #1 really bad? Divorce is hard but was really hard back then. I guess we’ll never know.

    • jmsptrk

      Hey…nice avatar!

      • Jim in RF

        You’ve got the mean, malicious one; after the chain went downhill. Mine is the sort that would be fine on any cardboard milk carton being studied by a 7-year old eating her Cheerios.

  • chlost

    This is the kind of anger that has been stoked for many, many years. Most likely by other adults in their lives, going back to childhood. There are ways to minimize the emotional damage to young children. Obviously not done here. So sad all around.

  • fdhbstephanie

    I just wonder what happened to dad. I mean, she left him and the kids and the grandparents reared them. Hope he got equal vitriol…

    • Barton

      I wondered the same thing.

    • kaffekup

      Probably not, unless it was he who wrote the obit and chose not to mention it.
      Back in those days, a lot of men felt they couldn’t work and raise children ( there were few single mother role models then).
      And possibly he lived with them; even though they were her parents, they probably disapproved of her behavior, too.

    • FlyoverGuy

      What makes you think that dad deserved equal (or any) vitriol?

      Even if he did — which we don’t know — is mom’s death notice the place for it?

      Or do you just think that some man must be to blame in any situation?

      • AmericanAhole

        Well, Dad didn’t raise his kids — his ex’s parents did. The obvious question is: why? And the answer is probably not great for Dad.

        • FlyoverGuy

          American* “The obvious question is: why? And the answer is probably not great for Dad.”

          I can think of 100 possible reasons. Maybe the father died soon after his wife left him and the kids. Maybe the father was chronically sick. Maybe the father was chronically unemployed and couldn’t support his kids. Maybe the father figured that his kids were better off with two parents — a mom and dad — than with a single parent. (Remember: In the 1960s, people were crazy enough to think that this was a much better family structure.) Maybe the father was emotionally unbalanced because his wife slept with his brother and ditched him and the kids. …

          Personally, I think that the most likely answer is that the father didn’t think that a single man — who had to work full time — was an appropriate single-parent for young children. I realize that we consider single parents to be normal in 2018 but they were definitely very unusual — especially single fathers — in 1962.

          Or maybe the father was a crud to the kids too but we don’t have any evidence at all for that. None.

          It might be bad for dad, but your claim is definitely pure speculation.

          We do know what the kids thought of their mom and why they thought so.

  • Joe Wolf

    Minnesota Nice, Category 5.

  • Eric Riback

    Paid death notices are not obituaries. Obits are written by journalists.

  • pojimogo

    Whatever the whole story (and we will never know that information), it is refreshing to see a brutally honest obit. Apparently this deceiving, cheating, irresponsible hussy never made amends with the children she so callously abandoned for her own selfish reasons. I am sure Gina and Jay relish the fact that they were able to enact some retribution with this final comment on their, apparently degenerate, mothers life.

    • CA_Reader

      Wow–I hope you live your life so that you never deserve such awful words about yourself.

      • CaryT

        I sure as hell hope that I live my life so that I never deserve such words about me.

      • TMJ

        Lol clearly YOU don’t since you felt the need to say this 😂

    • BobbyBarker

      And what if there was more to the story?

  • Barton

    I wonder what happened to the 3rd kid she was pregnant with when she moved to CA (the one her BIL was partner to creating).

  • kevins

    My wife and I plan on writing and publishing an alternative obit when her dad dies, not so much out of hostility, but in the interest of making sure the real and accurate story of a life is told. The piece has already been drafted in our minds, with liberal revisions, but the main theme abides, and strangely enough, his personality and behavior has been much like that of our current president.

    • Think about that long and hard.

      • kevins

        Believe me, we have.

        • Graby Sauce

          I think that’s a great idea, actually. In 50 years when your kids or other family members are trying to find out about their ancestors, an obit giving the not-so-nice story will answer lots of questions.

          • What if it’s wrong?

          • kevins

            That’s the part about no hostility, as that creates bias. Living with a narcissist can make you feel wrong even though you have behaved justly. There is a truth, but some times only one story (guess whose) gets told.

          • Janelle Dahlgren

            Now that is a powerful statement! People from the outside don’t get to see how these people truly act, and if brought up, will never believe you because of the outside persona they fool everyone with.

          • Dwnflfan

            I’d venture to guess most obituaries are wrong. Either that or everyone is beloved by everyone that’s ever met them.

          • KissKissBang

            Or they just have some generic platitudes and a recitation of facts (DOB, surviving/deceased relatives, where and when the funeral/wake/memorial will occur, etc).

      • kaffekup

        I was hoping he left off the sarcasm tag.

      • Sevenmack

        I wouldn’t blame them if they did write the obit as they say they would. Certainly I wouldn’t recommend it and prefer forgiveness over bitterness. At the same time, if you are hurt by a parent who should have done better, it is hard to be forgiving, even when our society talks big about not speaking ill of the dead.

        Sometimes, people deserve to be called out publicly for being toxic, evil, horrible people. Even if it isn’t necessarily the best thing to do.

    • Linda Welvaert Slettedahl

      Why does this even involve the mention of our President?? Are you all stupid or what?

      • Keith Combs

        “Because it was used to tie the narrative to another person we all know with a Narcissitic disorder.” and “No.”

      • kevins

        See Keith below.

    • CA_Reader

      I think if such information could be published without being an obituary, it would be valuable. I’m just now learning so much about ancient history of my g-grandparents that can only be truly interpreted by looking at the political and social history of those times. (Pre-civil war) Fascinating being able to look back, scary to see how those times are so similar to our own.

      • I think every person should record or otherwise document their own story. A blog. A recording. A journal. Something that says you were here and this is what you did while you were.

        • CA_Reader

          I agree, and I am journaling almost daily, but often personal journals vanish into history unread.

        • SquatchyPants

          You mean social media?

    • JoeInMidwest

      I likewise had a narcissistic pig that claimed to be my father. Long dead, and not missed in the least. I only miss that I never screamed at him for his barbaric behavior.

  • d a u n

    I have so many questions. it says she died in springfield, so when did she come back from CA? where are dennis, lyle, & lyle’s kid(s)? made-for-tv movie gold here.

    • Milkshake

      She married Lyle, had another child with him.

      • d a u n

        right. i meant where are they now, and when did she come back from CA? did she come back to maybe make amends, or…?

  • Jeff C.

    Funny…For some reason this obit makes me thing poorly of Gina and Jay and have pity for Kathleen since it makes me think that there is a lot that isn’t being said that would help explain her behavior.

    • keith sw

      Huh? Thats about the exact thing I would have written. Piss on her and her trifling ways

    • FlyoverGuy

      Because you can’t imagine that a mother would abandon her young children and those children would still be angry 55 years later?

      I do not find either element hard to believe at all.

      • Keep it courteous everybody.

        • FlyoverGuy

          My comment was perfectly courteous.

          • I realize there aer a lot of newbies visiting the blog this week.

            We generally have commenters provide their own opinions without commenting on the value on the reasoning of others. When I see any possible trend into the latter, I just remind everyone to stay civil ahead of time. Doesn’t mean they haven’t been up to that point.

  • Sam M

    Seems her life story is missing quite a bit. I’d like a newspaper to do some digging on the children… my hunch is we won’t find the authors are some sort of angels on earth.

    • KissKissBang

      At least one article I read (WashPo?) reached out to Jay and Gina for comment, but had not yet received a response.

  • Adam

    The worst part is the uncomplimentary photo!

  • Julia Peters

    He who lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones at others! Shame people don’t speak out about the person when there alive. Speak there truth about who the person was…. They wait until there dead and can’t be seen to be shamed for there actions or defend there actions, These children where raised by Grandparents – that may have filled there heads with many hatred ideals of there mother and as the year went by the hatred will build and the story could grow with even more hatred ….. I hope they find peace with in them selfs….

  • maybirdy

    She walked away from toddlers who needed her. She deserves NO respect whatsoever, dead or alive.
    I hope she’s suffering now as her babies suffered without the mother they’d bonded to.

  • maybirdy

    My father split when I was four. Fifty years later, I still despise him.
    The kids in this story have my utter and complete sympathy.
    I hope “mom,” wherever she is, is learning a sharp lesson.

  • cornhusk

    Who the hell cares. If you have a beef with someone, get it aired while they’re still alive. If you do that, maybe you can work things out and salvage some sort of relationship. Maybe not, but at least you won’t make yourself look like a POS by making an obituary about yourself and your unresolved grievances. Waiting until someone dies and you write a pissy obituary makes you look like a “kitty”, if you know what I mean.

    Also, apparently she was very well liked in Wabasso, according to someone on twitter whose family in the town knew of this woman.

    • I’ve never seen anyone look good in obits like this. Never.

    • FlyoverGuy

      The children may have aired their grievances while she was alive. That doesn’t mean they forgave her.

      Kitties would be concerned about their image with total strangers on the internet. In contrast, these children felt that their mother had wronged them very deeply and they want the world to know what kind of person she was.

      The woman was probably liked by people whom she did not abandon as small children. Her brother-in-law apparently liked her well enough.

  • cjarabia

    Awesome, all obits should be this honest – I bet they fell pretty damn good about it, I know I would. I wish more obits were this honest. We all deserve an honest obit. Most of them are such fake bologna and not worth reading. Painting a fake positive picture of so many a-holes. I hope everyone reading this gets an obit this honest! Bring it on!

  • JoeInMidwest

    My parents were divorced likewise in the 1960s when it was beyond unacceptable in Minnesota, especially in the catholic church. I intend to not even mention my so-called father in my obit because, in reality, he was a total POS, and not a father.

  • Mooshki Mitchell

    Much of my years of therapy were spent trying to learn to be angry at my dad instead of at myself. I say good for them for letting it out. Our culture so often says we’re supposed to forgive family no matter how badly they treat us, and makes it hard to cut off abusive relationships.

  • RealConstitutionalist81

    Sounds like there was at least one other child (the one of the affair) who was another innocent in this situation …. I’m sure this obituary would be extremely hurtful to this “sibling” …. forgiveness is generally for the victims and not the person forgiven. It is sad to see so much festered unresolved angst after so many years.

  • Elli World

    To make short and “easy”: They never spoke and cleared about it even as adults with the mother, the anger was/is planted in their souls ( question by whom). So in my mind Mother died unhappy, kids still angry and now it is to late to solve all this bad feelings. What do we learn about it: Talk about your problems! as long you have the time!

  • Robin Thomas

    Things like this have happened in my own family as I grew up I realized everyone is human and make big mistakes– whether the mistake was marrying the first or leaving with the second we do not know so we have no right to judge . In those times she wouldnt have gotten to take the kids with her so the grands were a better choice– maybe the first was down right horrific?Learn to forgive its the only way you every heal.I hope this woman rests in peace.

  • Tom

    It’s a little entertaining to read, but honestly, who cares? She’s dead. Even when you’re alive, what other people think of you is none of your business. Once you’re dead, it’s REALLY not a concern. The person who wrote the unflattering obituary is clearly a petty, vengeful person, and they have to live with themselves. If they didn’t find happiness for themselves by now it’s probably their own fault, not the dead woman’s.

  • Paula Andrews

    There was obviously a lot of hurt that never healed. Did she apologize? I doubt it. Did she ask forgiveness, I doubt it…maybe the children’s last comment..says it all.