Who else does this? I’ve always read obituaries, especially back in the days of paper newspapers. I remember the Sunday editions had pages of them and I read them all. I particularly focused on those people close to my age, tried to figure out what killed them, so as to reassure myself that something like that couldn’t happen to me.
A little over a year ago I looked up someone’s obit, I can’t remember who, but it was someone from my hometown. I ended up at the website of the local funeral home, a funeral home that’s been in town forever, whose family owners went to the church I attended as a kid.
I signed up for an email notification whenever they have another person’s obituary. I’ve found that a lot of people that went to my church as a kid have now passed through this particular funeral home.
It’s an odd feeling when I see the notification in my emails. I always take a deep breath before I click on the link to see who it was. Lots of times it’s not someone I know, not a name from my childood, not a friend of my parents, or worse, a friend of mine. But sometimes it is someone I know’s parent or sister or brother, or child.
Sometimes it’s not anyone I know, but after reading the obituary I sort of wish I had known them. Today there were three, and a couple of them struck me. The best obit opening line I’ve ever read showed up today:
“Michael XXXX, age 73 of Howell Michigan, passed away on the golf course after a frustrating double-bogey on March …” Even though I’m not a golfer I smiled as I read that first sentence. And if you can make people smile while reading your obituary, well, you’re a pretty special person in a pretty special family.
And this man was someone five years younger than me that I would have enjoyed talking to:
“Mxxx strongly believed in education. He earned Masters Degrees in Economics from Indiana State University, Business Administration from Lewis University, and Information and Library Science from Wayne State University. He was a volunteer at the Salvation Army and the Livingston County Democratic Party. He was passionate about politics, the Chicago White Sox, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.”
I wish everyone’s obituary shared such interesting and fun bits of information. I’ve often thought I’d like to write obituaries. During such a stressful time I would want families not to have to come up with it on their own. And the help from funeral homes isn’t always much more than a fill in the blank option.
I would want families to look back at that obituary and know it summed up their loved one just exactly right. A last gift to the family I guess.
Anyway…how many of you read stranger’s obituaries and consider whether they were lucky to live a full life, how many of you feel grateful for your own life when you read an obituary for someone your age, or someone who seemed to have so few loved ones left.
Or am I just odd? Maybe you shouldn’t answer that.
Pictures today are from my walk last week at the Shiawasee Wildlife Preserve. I still don’t have editing capabilities, so I looked for images that you could enjoy straight out of the camera. They don’t have anything to do with obituaries, but that’s OK. I know you can deal with it.
And somewhere along the line I started getting my captions in the picture, which is sort of OK, except it darkens the picture. And I haven’t figured out how to get the captions out of there. Or even to delete the whole image. So you’ll have to image that these are decent pictures with interesting colors and stuff.
Seriously WordPress, don’t you realize we already have a lot on our plates?