Monday, September 22, 2008

I Read The Obituaries

Call me strange, but I read the obituaries.

I was in the medical field for almost 30 years. I wanted to know when my favorite patients had died. As a Home Caregiver and sometimes Hospice support, I had grown close to many of the families. I often sent a card and would occasionally go to a funeral.
I read the obits online from the area where I grew up. I call my Mom if it is someone she knows.

There is a marked difference in Obituary write-ups between the North and the South. Up North, unless you are someone well known, it's "Just the facts,ma'am".
Name, school, job, family and the wake and funeral details.

I rarely read the obituaries in my Florida paper. I don't know anyone down here.
Once in a while I look at a few in the Sunday paper. Is this a "Southern Thing"?
The obits are V*E*R*Y L*O*N*G. They include so many details of the person's life, their favorite authors, hobbies,every town they ever lived in, their childhood friends, every pet, their daily habits, where they went on vacations.

I don't have a problem using the word "died". Yesterday, I saw so many euphemisms. People had "climbed the Heavenly Stairsteps", are "Dancing in the arms of Jesus" and "Drinking a cup of tea with the Saints".
They "departed sweetly and kindly" and "Left their loved ones in a pool of sadness and teardrops"

Yesterday, I read an obituary for someone I never knew, but it made me cry.
It was about a young man with a "shocking and sad death" caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was a member of the National Guard because he wanted to help his fellow citizens in time of hurricanes and floods and local disasters. He had come home from a "lengthy deployment in Iraq" and had never been the same.

My dad was in the Massachusetts National Guard for 38 years. I frequently heard the story of my Mom sitting in the living room window, waiting for Dad to come home from evacuating low-lying areas in a hurricane. The farthest my Dad ever got deployed was to North Carolina for a year, during the Berlin Crisis.

I started thinking of what would have happened if the National Guard had been deployed to VietNam. What might have happened to my Dad. And our family.


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm an obit reader too--and now I think I should subscribe to a southern paper because you're right--it's rare to find an interesting one and when I do, I read it really slow and then re-read it and wonder.

Amy A. said...

The young ones really bother me. I just read one of a first grader that was so cut and dry. It made me wish for a more flowery obit even though I don't usually go in for those.

BOSSY said...

Climbed the heavenly stairs? Bossy doesn't think going up stairs is any fun at all. Going down on the other hand...

My Name is Cat said...

I'm a Southerner and say 'died', but I am a rarity. I read the obits occasionally, too. I don't know what that is about.