John and Lorraine are high school friends who meet a man named Mr. Pignati. After developing a wonderfully loving friendship with him over a period of months, Mr. Pignati dies of a heart attack. But it isn't that simple, really, because John and Lorraine threw a teenage party at his house while he was in the hospital with the first attack. Lorraine feels that the shock of walking in on the party is what killed him. He did die soon after the party, probably from complications from the first heart attack, but Lorraine feels guilty anyway. John says that he mentions to Lorraine that they should write the whole story down to make her feel better. Specifically, he says the following:
". . . we might as well get this cursing thing over with too. I was a little annoyed at first since I was the one who suggested writing this thing because I couldn't stand the miserable look on Lorraine's face ever since the Pigman died" (5).
Lorraine calls it a "memorial epic" because she wants to do something nice in memory of the sweet man who treated her like a daughter. John and Lorraine both have relationship issues with their parents, so as Mr. Pignati bought them things, took them to the zoo, and gave them wine, they truly appreciated him. Writing a story about their experience with Mr. Pignati is their tribute to him.