Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I am an invenerate obituary reader and the local papers in my area usually offer interesting ones.  I read obituaries not because I am morbid but because it allows me to celebrate lives well lived and to mourn those lives that have not achieved their purpose.  One of this week's local papers offered both.

     Joseph America -- love that name -- passed away last week at age 91.  A World War II veteran, he was a Master Tool and Die Maker at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  When his beloved wife passed away in 1974, he retired from his job and assumed the role of parenting the seven of his fourteen children who were still living at home.  All but one of his fourteen children survive him.  He loved to spend time fishing, crabbing and boating with his family and friends.

     I have no idea what type of parent or person he was, but I strongly suspect -- in both cases -- he was a good one.  A life well lived.  A person I would have liked to have known. 

     Brenn Carter was only 18 when she died.  Her favorite pastimes were drawing, getting her nails done, applying make-up, and changing her hair color and style.  In other words, she was a teen-aged girl who should have had a lifetime of promise and opportunity ahead of her.  Whoever wrote her obituary knew her and loved her and tried desperately to describe the person she was:  "From the start it was clear to see that she was a force to be reckoned with.  Forthright, energetic, funny, and creative, her charm went before her like a torch, illuminating those she was around with joy.  Her gregarious nature was infectious; her smile brilliant; her eagerness for life made it vividly apparent that Brenn would leave an indelible imprint on those with whom she came into contact.  Naturally artistic, Brenn possessed a distinct flair for expression.  Drawing was her passion, ambition her palette, audacity her paint, life her canvass, and what remains is a work of art."

     It is unjust that young people die.  It happens, but I don't like it.  It may sound corny, but a part of me is diminished whenever I read about a young person's death, whether from accident or disease, war or violence.  So today I mourn Breen Carter, a young lady I have never met, as much as I celebrate Joseph America, another stranger to me.

     There were other obituaries this week:  Judith Bell, 66.  Pauline Chase, 51.  Joan Davis, 78.  William Ewaski, Sr., CMSgt, Ret., 90.  Gordon Harris, 53.  Beverly Harwood, 79.  John Lloyd, 84.  Clarence Parker, 91.  Gene Schwallenberg, Jr., 48.  Some passed before their time; some had full lives.  All had gone through life touching others.  I hope that all had lives well spent.

     I read obituaries because they connect me with humanity.

     What about you?

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