Every day I post obituaries on our regional news websites, as I’ve done for the past 7 years now. It’s mostly a matter of copy and paste, and sometimes resizing a photo if one is included. Sometimes I barely read them because I’m in a hurry to get finished. But usually I read them through. Often the obituaries get to me, especially one for a baby or a young person.
Sometimes the obit is long, and full of lists of credentials and accomplishments and accolades. Other times the long ones are full of the memories of family and friends, and I find myself wishing I had known this really special person. When they are relatively young people, I always wonder what happened. How did they die so young? And I think about the families who are left to grieve the loss of one who died too soon.
Occasionally an obituary will make me laugh, quoting some favorite saying or a funny memory. I have yet to figure out why some families post an obituary of a person who died in their 80’s or 90’s using a photo of them in their twenties. I mean, let’s be real…at that stage, is there anyone much who remembers them when they were that young? And more than a couple of obituaries have been submitted with photos from a driver’s license! I’d love to get together with the funeral homes in this region and give them a quick course in scanning, cropping, and resizing photos for public obituaries! Some of the photos are that bad.
I have to confess sometimes the names of the deceased make me laugh. I wonder what their parents were thinking (or drinking) when they came up with that name, and how that person survived in the cruel world of grade school with a name like Ozumbia or Molesta, or Ethyleen Iroller. Kids love to make fun of names! And how could someone practice law or teach school with names like Mrs. Beavers Belcher, Anacles FanFan, Arnold Fiddlefester, or Mrs. Clottee Creasey Grissett? (that sounds like something that might happen to your plumbing or a medical condition!)
Occasionally there are obituaries that just make you wonder at the randomness and coincidences of life. Like the elderly husband and wife who died just days or weeks apart, or the man who died on his way to his brother’s funeral. And tonight I posted two such obituaries. One was a 93 year-old man in West Virginia, who died an hour after his 92 year-old brother in Salem died. What are the odds of two brothers in different states dying on the same day, let alone an hour apart?
When I go, I don’t want a list of my accomplishments and any awards or such nonsense. I want people to tell stories about what they remember about me, about my sense of humor and my love for my family and my faith in God. I want them to be able to smile through whatever tears they may have and just be glad that we knew each other.