Updated: Feb 7
Words of wisdom from then President-elect Joseph R. Biden from his Covid-19 Memorial on the National Mall.
My daughter laughs out loud when I tell her I have a folder in my filing cabinet labeled “Favorite Obits.” She wonders if I gather them in preparation for my mom’s death in 2010. I assure her it started much earlier than that. My sister and I read obituaries when we are still in elementary school. Perhaps our curiosity grows out of the death of our father the summer before my third birthday. My sister was only fourteen months old. Momma does not talk about our father or death. We may be seeking our own answers. Throughout our lives, we have been known to call one another after spending time in the morning papers to see if the other of us noticed a good one.
My first collected obit comes from my friend and colleague, Dory. She gives me a photocopy of the obituary for Murven, who died in January, 1998. Murven was a wanderer and a jack-of-all-trades. “He was married twice—said he was not good at it either time. . .. With a wry smile and a wink, Murven admonished his family to stay away from bars, beauty parlors, PTA meetings and church. He also encouraged moderation in ALL things—including moderation.” The last paragraph declares, “Murven was dearly loved and will be greatly missed . . . It surprised him to beat the devil that he was also loved by . . . “
These obits do not have to be long and fancy to please me. I cut out a very short item for Samuel J Taylor who died on November 15, 2010. The item reports that, “Taylor was the editor and publisher of the Moab Times-Independent newspaper for more than 50 years.” I love small town newspapers.
And there is Dean who died on September 10, 2016. “Among his other accomplishments, Dean climbed the three highest peaks in the Tetons, played tournament tennis in Europe, raced motorcycles, catamarans, and a Porsche Speedster.” But the accomplishments do not have to be spectacular. Hiram, who died on the same day. “Hiram was known for his sense of humor, kindness, and willingness to help others.”
And Edward, Ed, Eddie, Eduardious, ET, who “engaged life fully and vigorously even though he was challenged with cerebral palsy all his life. He rode his bike 20 miles a day from Waikiki to Hawaii Kai and was a familiar figure to virtually all the residents of Honolulu."
Ricardo, who died on January 27, 2010, “believed that his professional achievements were dependent on the guidance, mentorship, and support of those in the field before him. In return, He was delighted to teach younger geologists, professionally, academically, and (characteristically) personally.”
Greg, who died in 2010, “was the truest example of what it means to be a loving, caring, patient and compassionate father.”
Duffy, who died in 2009 left his own message, “I went Airborne today. What a fantastic journey The Human Space Time Illusion. Some of it was magic and some of it was tragic, but I had a good life all the way.”
Jeanne L. “was a wonderful and talented teacher. . ., often building relationships with her students and mentoring them long after they left her classroom.”
And Nancy Sue, who “throughout her life, was always willing to charge head-on into the toughest of situations. She was bold and passionate about everything she did."
Kyle, who died in Nov. 2010, “Your generosity extended to strangers and friends alike and the difference blurred quickly. How can you meet new people and be so kind, generous and interested in them?”
Mary K, “You left so quietly on Sunday morning it took a few minutes for me to realize that you had gone.”
Georgette, wrote her own obit, declaring, “Most obituaries are about the individual and their accomplishments. My obituary is about the people who helped me archive my accomplishments.” Her dad, her mom, her brother, her sister, her nieces, her step-daughter, and her husband.
What will they say about you? What would you say about you?