I confess I have a weird habit. Well I don’t think it is weird but many people do. I love to read obituaries, I do it every single day. People I don’t know, and have no connection to them at all. I have been told that is morbid. I don’t see it that way. To me it is the last chapter in a book. I like the ones that tell the whole story of a life well lived. I love the ones that have a list of survivors that number into the great great grandchildren. I love the ones that say in 1942 he married his high school sweetheart, and they celebrated 60 or 70 years together!
We are losing all of the veterans of WWII and I love to read about those brave young men that enlisted and went off to fight for us and the women that stayed and became Rosie the Riveter! You can tell the a bit about what they person was like by the tone of the obituary, you can tell if they are serious and stoic or if they were fun-loving and teasing. I always feel a little sad when it only says that the person died and this is the funeral. I know that it costs to put those long obits in the paper, in fact I was shocked at the price for the Ft Worth Star Telegram! I think that it is also partly because we just don’t stop and take time to properly grieve and mourn our loved ones. I can’t tell you how often it says… so and so died and a service will be announced later… it makes me sad. I am not ghoulish I just think that as I said it is the last chapter in their book.
One of the things that always interests me is the many ways they say that the person died. Sometimes it is they died… they passed away, they fell asleep and woke in God’s arms, they answered their master’s call, I think my favorite is that they were made perfect before God. I like that one. I have sadly read a few obits in which it is very clear that they are atheist and the obit is devoid of all hope. It is just the end. I love the ones that say… Joe was reunited with Opal in heaven… or things like that.
The other thing that really gets me is the part about … laying in state. That is what we always called it… you know where you can go view the body. A lot of them say stuff like you may visit Ann at…. or Ann will be at so and so place and gives the time, but sometimes you get one that is well… Anita will be laying on her Golden couch before she is transported to her going home party. Or something like that. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but that one busted me up!
I also noticed that the older women and men seem to be more involved in clubs and community things. It may be that they just lived to a point in their life where they had time for that I don’t know. Younger to middle-aged just don’t seem to be into that. I love to see what people did for a living, where they lived and all that. It is almost a Sociology class in each one.
I grieve when I see little babies and little kids obits and I confess that many times I skip them because it is just so heart breaking. I am seldom interested in the cause of death, something will get us all eventually. Occasionally they will name a disease that I am curious about and I will go look it up.
Yesterday there were TWO people who were connected to the tiny town where my parents lived the last years of their lives. Since the area is small I even noted their names to see if there was any way they fit into the family tree. I think that part of the draw for me is the genealogy part of it. I have read obits for family information for as long as I can remember.
Another thing I love is the names. The old names, simple and plain, passed on and named after. The spellings aren’t wonky … they are simple good solid names. Occasionally I get one that makes me laugh, usually it is a foreign name paired with an English name and it just sounds odd. I love the ones where the soldier goes off to fight in Europe and brings home a bride!
I realize that I romanticize these to a degree. I get the outline of their lives and I, in my own mind add the details that may of may not be true. I love the ones that have two pictures… one when they were young and one recent. They were so beautiful and young and women looked like women and men looked like men!
I guess in some ways it that I like history and I am creative. I just think that I might have liked to have known that person, given the chance. The least I can do is read the obituary and wish them Godspeed.
So do you think he hobby is morbid or just harmless.