by Mark Mabry
Editor’s Note: In the article below, Mark Mabry describes what it was like to be around Glenn during the final months of Victor’s life. Mark is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and storyteller with The American Dream Labs. He is currently working on The Man in the Moon and a yet-to-be-announced project. Mark and his family are also close with the Beck’s, allowing Mark to get a unique perspective on the personal moments in Glenn’s life.
“Take a few pictures of Victor, he is starting to get bad… you never know when his time will come,” was Glenn’s main request up at the Ranch last August.
So that week, I looked for my chance. Occasionally Victor would limp to the front law and lay in the sun. But mostly he laid by the door.
Glenn mentioned that he was going to start preparing the family for what was becoming apparent about Victor. He was nearing the end.
Not long after the trip I was perusing Vimeo, when I came across a video called, Last Minutes with ODEN. It was masterful, telling the story of a man and his dog with cancer. The man reminisced as he took ODEN in to be euthanized. The man was obviously not rich and the dog was all he had…
I sent him an email during radio… “Glenn, this might be incredibly insensitive to show you right now, but you may find comfort in it. https://vimeo.com/8191217 – Mark”
Typically there is a barrage of people that need Glenn to see things once he gets off the air. Nathan, Director of Creative Services, who sits next to me had just produced a great new show intro that he was anxious to show him. LJ, waited to give him some 1791 proofs as well.
At 11:01, strait from radio, he came up and walked over to my desk.
“What do you want to show me?”
“It’s a dog video. Maybe it’s not the right time…”
Nathan and LJ stood by, projects in arms.
“No, show me now.”
I pulled it up and handed Glenn my headphones. He sat in my chair. Four minutes in, Glenn was a mess. Tears, kleenexes, audible sobs.
I looked at Nathan, “Sorry man. I probably could have timed this a little better.”
“I’ll wait on that promo…” he whispered back.
Glenn finished, laid down the head phones, and walked to his office.
Fast forward a few month. It’s March now. Victor can barely walk at all. He’s gone deaf in one ear and blind in one eye. Victor is in severe pain.
Glenn began to talk about it on the radio more and more. And as the time approached he had more to say about it. Once he had spoken about the sadness and the difficulty of ending someones life, we turned the conversation toward documenting this deeply personal moment… whether it was actually helpful to listeners and viewers, or if it was exploitation of a sacred moment.
Glenn opened up about his history. For the last 35 years, he has had listeners. A one way conversation with the microphone… knowing that today there are millions of them listening. He wept about the comments on his site and the notes he’s received.
“For years, I lied about my life… thinking I was telling the truth. That was a one-way conversation. But for the last decade or so, I really am telling the truth. And talking about this is on air is natural. I guess it’s how I cope,” he told me at the end of a long talk.
So I kept tagging along with camera in hand. There are only a few times that I’ve felt so timid about photographing as when people are grieving, as Glenn and his family were in the middle of.
Something else interesting has happened. For the most part, there was a truce. For a few days, trolls on the site were nicer (on this topic at least). Losing a friend was sacred turf upon which nobody felt like trampling.
I watched Glenn teach his own family about grieving, friendship, and life. About God, too. And about man’s relationship with God’s creations.
He showed them, that when it comes down to it station in life doesn’t matter in moments of grief. It feels the same for everyone. Rich and poor, believer and non, etc…
How we deal with it is up to us.
Watch last minutes with ODEN below: