Remembering Lives Lived…

I have what people sometimes think is an odd habit…I read obituaries.

I’ve done it since I started reading the daily newspaper (about age 10, I think)…I’ve always had an interest in genealogy and social history.  As a writer, one of my favourite kinds of writing is profiles, either business or personal.  That’s really what obituaries are, profiles of (for the most part) ordinary people.  And, as I near the half century mark of my life, the chances increase that one of my acquaintances (or their relatives) will be among those included in the list of deaths.

The obituaries that I am drawn to the most are those which, in addition to providing family and career information, also give some idea of what the deceased person was like.  The following description was the one which sparked the idea for this post:  “If you happen to be one of the lucky people who has a piece of furniture that Albert hand made, you know it is as unique as he. You placed an order for what you wanted and you got what Albert thought you should have.”  I wished I’d known Albert the minute I read that!

I chose a random week and scanned the obituaries of a large newspaper during that week.  Following are some snippets that appealed to me:

“Krystyna was at home in the kitchen doing what she loved best, cooking and baking. Her claims to fame were her decadent tortes, cabbage rolls and perogies. She was a mean card player who always expected her opponents to ‘pay up’, whether family or friends.”  What a great image for her descendants to be left with!

“Everyone who met Mollie realized how special she was. Her strength, kindness, intellect, and Scrabble acuity left their impression on all who knew her.”  It sounds like the person who wrote this was beaten at Scrabble a few times…

“Barbara was admired by all for her quick mind, keen intelligence and strong, independent spirit. She was a model of capability, civility and limitless curiosity. She was an informed, progressive thinker and a lifelong learner who remained open to new ideas, new cultures and new friends.”  We should all endeavour to be more like Barbara!

“Pete’s family always came first and his devotion to them was endless (love, advice, chequebook, toolbox).”  I can just see Pete whipping out his screwdriver to fix his grandson’s wagon…

“In his 70’s, he planted an apple orchard and cultivated his large vegetable garden. He smoked delicious treats in a small smokehouse by the lake. His family will forever remember these special family meals. He savoured his drink of choice, cognac.”  I wonder if he also smoked cigars?

“Mum was a pure and wholesome spirit, with nary a bad word to say about anyone. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body; she lived her life with kindness, sweetness and concern for others.”  She probably made chocolate chip cookies a lot…

“Marie was a ‘people person’ whose interactions with others revealed her wonderful sense of humour and boundless energy. Her commitment to being physically and mentally active, even in her 90th year, was about being a lifelong learner, reader, gardener, walker, birder, puppeteer and storyteller.”  I’m seeing Marie standing with her binoculars, staring intently up into a tree as she attempts to identify a bird she’s never seen before…

“He will be missed for his outrageous sense of humour, his overwhelming generosity, his animated personality and his persuasive charm. He was a bright light in this sometimes dull world and will be fondly remembered by anyone whose life he touched.”  This man was probably someone who could tell a joke at your expense, and you would still laugh at it…

“Her home was always open to help a feline in distress.”  Is this a nice way of saying “crazy cat lady”?

“Mom will be dearly missed by all who knew her as fun-loving, spunky, fashionable and caring.”  I bet they buried her with her pearls…

This last one is my favourite: “The measure of Frank’s life is not the wealth or material things he left behind; rather, the many kind words and beautiful memories shared by people, whose lives he touched and those who touched his. Frank indeed left his mark in our hearts.”

I hope that all of these people’s families told their loved ones how important they were while they were still alive…


Filed under family, memories

2 responses to “Remembering Lives Lived…

  1. I just loved this entry, especially your take on the person. (I’m a crazy cat lady, BTW.)

    I was a hospice chaplain and had the privilege of doing a lot of eulogies. I was always mining for tidbits and yarns about the deceased that would help tell their story. Here in Idaho I got to tell about cowboys, fishermen, and a woman who welded during WWII. I still hold this array of people in my heart because of the intriguing lives they lived.

    Thanks, Wendy, for appreciating these vignettes.

  2. Thank you, Nancy…I’m glad you enjoyed them…

    When I did my community newsletter, I had the privilege of interviewing the first black RCMP officer in Canada (who just happened to be from West Saint John, New Brunswick!). That was about 8 years ago…we still remain in touch by e-mail, and usually get together for supper when he comes to town (he lives out on the Prairies now).

    Among others, I have interviewed a group of war brides (WWII), some Korean War vets, and nurses at their 50th reunion. They all shared some great stories!

    I miss those days when I did that…


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