Saturday, July 23, 2016

Reading the obituaries

I remember my parents reading the obituaries in the paper when I was a kid.  They said it was to keep track of their friends to see if any had died without telling them.

I don't know why, but over the last several years I started looking at them too.  First it was competitive...I'd look at the ages of the people who died who were born around my time and think 'at least I lasted longer than he did'.   Pretty strange I guess, but then I've never been accused of being normal.

More recently though I started scanning them to learn about the people themselves who died.  This cycle started when I was curious to see how many were veterans and what their service was (note to families:  get your loved one's service history straight; I've read some pretty strange accounts of what their deceased supposedly did in the military).

But now I stop and read about the people and their lives.  Many, like most of us, had regular lives but some, the lives that they lead were amazing.   I glanced at an obituary for a woman who passed away who among other accomplishments was a Playboy Playmate of the Month in the late 50s.  Imagine having that on your resume!  Another that I read today met his wife prior to WW2 as a civilian flight instructor.  What a story there: a girl learning to fly in 1940!  He trained his future wife to fly and when the war started he went to the Navy to be an aviator and she went to be a WASP.  They continued with their remarkable lives post WW2, living a life worthy of a movie.  But she has been gone for awhile and he is now four paragraphs in the local paper. They will fade from view and from memories like so many, many people over the millennia whose unique stories are gone forever.

I've begun to feel it is my duty to read the obituaries and to acknowledge their lives, ordinary and extraordinary, one last time.

Pretty strange I guess, but then I've never been accused of being normal.

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