Sunday, December 13, 2009
OK, so I wrote recently about how there is familial obsession with cemeteries. Well, we are also obsessed with obituaries. Some of my oldest memories of my Grandma Dalton is getting up in the morning and walking past the park, across the street and into Ken's grocery to pick up her Salt Lake Tribune, which she always referred to as "The Trib". After a quick glance at the front page, she would always turn to the obituary page. I often asked her why she always wanted to look at the people who had died. She would tell me that if her name wasn't listed, then she would know that it was OK to get on with the rest of her day. My mom and dad always did the same thing. For as long as I can remember, my mom has always taken several newspapers: "The Trib", the Provo Daily Herald, and the Richfield Reaper, mostly so that she can read the obits.
Well, maybe it's genetic because I ALWAYS have to read the obituaries each morning. Even when I lived in MS, I would read the obituaries of the local people and then log on to the Utah newspapers so that I could read the obits of "my people" back in Utah.
About 2 years ago, Rick and I were on the committee for our high school class reunion. In an effort to try to find all of our classmates, it came to our attention that there were a handful of classmates who had passed away. Some of our meetings were at the home of a friend of mine, Wade Griffiths. Wade's mom, Kathy, mentioned that she had also helped with some of her class reunions and as a member of the committee, one of their classmates was designated "the Obituary Girl". It was her responsibility to keep a record of classesmates who had passed on and to keep a copy of their obituary. When Kathy mentioned this, some people got wide eyes and said, "Ooo, creepy"! Not me. I said, "oh, pick me, pick me!" Nobody really said anything so I just became the self-appointed "Obituary Girl". I have a binder where I keep obituaries. There are dividers: family, friends, and other.
I have a few obituaries that I have collected over the years that are literally pieces of art to me. For example, 2 years ago on Christmas Eve a family in Salt Lake by the name of Ceran was in an accident on Christmas Eve. The entire family was participating in a local play and they were returning home late in the evening from a cast party. It was about 2 in the morning when they were hit by a drunk driver. The mother and a teenage son were killed. They were on the news for days, they made a statement about forgiveness. The obituaries were sermons. I'm not certain who wrote the obituaries, I would guess that the husband and father was part of that process, but it was the most beautiful collection of thoughts and messages that I have ever read.
I have collected a few others here and there that stand out to me. Some of them are from people who died young; others are from people who have lived long and productive lives.
I have written many different things over the years, and now to my writing portfolio, I can add, "Obituary Writer". (see the following post)
(I didn't help write the obituary for my dad as I was on a plane from Jackson to Houston to Pheonix to Salt Lake City.)