With respect to E. L. Doctorow's short story "The Writer in the Family," write an obituary, mentioning his background, accomplishments, disappointments, and family, that tells the truth about Jack's life instead of following the standard formula.
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Notice of Death
Jack, beloved husband of Ruth, father to Jonathan and Harold, passed away on December 12, 2014. A well-known figure along the old neighborhoods below New York’s Canal Street, Jack worked for many years for Acme Appliance and Supplies and handled the business’s accounts throughout the five boroughs. Fond of rare cheeses and exotic foreign produce that was only attainable from the small, mostly unregulated fruit and vegetable stands scattered among the city’s ethnic neighborhoods, Jack was a fixture around his own neighborhood, where he lived with his family in an apartment on the corner of 175 Street and the Grand Concourse.
In addition to his fondness for difficult-to-find cheeses and vegetables, Jack was known among friends and family for his love of music and reading, and the walls of his family’s small apartment were lined with bookshelves. Unbeknownst to many who knew Jack, he had served in the Navy during World War I, although he was never sent overseas because the war ended before his ship could be deployed. Consequently, he was denied the commission to which he had aspired, thereby destroying his hopes of serving as an officer in the United States Navy – a harbinger, Ruth would be quick to point out to anyone who would listen, of things to come.
After his military service was concluded, Jack returned to New York where he became professionally and emotionally mired in the appliance business, his ambitions of upward mobility in private life soon to be destroyed as thoroughly as was the case with his aborted career as a naval officer.
Interestingly, and of no business to anyone but his family, Jack’s wife Ruth had systematically, if subconsciously, undermined his professional and personal ambitions with her demanding, narrow-minded approach to business and life in general. Exacerbating the situation was Ruth’s tendency to turn their children against Jack’s side of the family who, it turned out, were actually quite thoughtful.
Jack and Ruth, as suggested, were anything but financially secure, having accumulated debts after borrowing against his insurance to help pay bills. What little money Jack left behind after his death is being held in probate pending final resolution of all financial details.
In addition to Ruth, Jonathan and Harold, Jack is survived by his 90-year-old mother, Essie, who lives at the Acme Nursing Home in Queens. Essie is being kept ignorant of her son’s death out of concern for her mental and physical well-being. Jack’s absence is being explained as an abrupt relocation of him and his family to the warmer climate of Arizona, precipitating the requirement for a somewhat elaborate scheme to continue to deceive Essie into believing her son is still alive and well.
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