Don Mitchum, 82, of Burlington, Ontario, died fitfully today in his childhood home, after a long and unfulfilling life spent worrying that people with names he refused to try and pronounce might come and live in some proximity to him.
Best known amongst his contemporaries as not really having all that much nice to say, and mostly just being the kind of guy you steered clear of once you got to know him, Don was well remembered. If not fondly.
“We didn’t called him ‘Bitchin’ Mitchum’ for nothing,” says lifelong acquaintance, Timothy Hawfield, who pointedly asked to not be referred to as Don’s friend. “He was always complaining about one group of people or another. In the 50’s, when we were teenagers together, it was the Italians and Portuguese he didn’t like. In the 60’s he spent thousands of hours railing against the Chinese and Czechs, mostly to his new wife. His kids heard all about the dangers of the Pakistanis and Vietnamese in the 70’s and 80’s. And by the 90’s he was spending a good 12 hours a day warning strangers about other strangers. New millennium? Not a new Mitchum. The man carped till he had one foot in the grave. And for what? So far as I can see, all those people Don hated came and lived generally happy lives, and it was he alone who was miserable.”
Not-friend Tim isn’t the only one who remembers the departed as a serial hater.
“Yeah, that was dad,” says Mr. Mitchum’s second daughter, Debbie, her eyes as dry as the mid-winter air. “Birthdays, graduations, funerals, weddings, there he’d be, holding forth on the great threats to this nation of immigrants, posed by – you guessed it – immigrants. For God’s sake, he used his last breath to tell me that he was pretty sure the new neighbours belong to ISIS. I’ve met them. Their last name is Kozlowski.”
Noted by many as a small man with a tiny heart, who made a point of squeezing the enjoyment out of everything as quickly as possible, so as to ensure no one could take it from him first, Mitchum is survived by two daughters and four grandchildren. As well as a country that somehow managed to flourish, despite ignoring his repetitive warnings that the coming wave of [insert other nationality] were going to be the ones that ruined everything.
“But I know he’s in a better place now,” deadpans Debbie, as she locks up Don’s house, and gives the ‘For Sale’ sign a grim smack on her way past. “Up there in heaven, where all souls are equal, there are no borders, and everyone spends their time welcoming newcomers with open arms.”