Reading The Obits

Reach out, if you can . . .

There are many joys in getting older, but there’s one that can be yours only if you’re older, and of all places, it starts by reading the obituaries. But remember, it is a most sad time in people’s lives, and you can be a blessing to that family, or not, for you are treading on tender ground.

However, sometime you’ll see a name of one you knew years before, and you’re flooded with memories that no one but you could now know. And I’ve learned to offer those memories with the sorrowing ones.

It won’t matter if you know the family, or not, you knew the one they mourn, and I tell them, with few words. what I remember, and then send it to the Mortuary, and let them forward it to the family. Don’t be surprised if there’s no response, but other times its welcomed over and over. And it’s cost you only a moment of time, a postage stamp, and perhaps a few tears..

I just had a marvelous experience, and so decided to pass the ‘how’ along.  There, one day, I saw in the obits, a name of a couple who had visited Dad and Mom in our home when I was a kid. And then, as my eyes slid to the portrait I laughed aloud for I saw my Dad smiling back at me.

Now, of course it wasn’t my Dad, but put a handle-bar mustache on the picture in the Tribune and it could have been my Dad. And so, Ethel being Ethel, to my computer I went and poured out the why, how, when, and where of it all.

And I even sent along a copy of Dad’s photo and in a week or so, I found they agreed with me, and in the days following, it was proven that the man in the paper was, as was my Dad, a descendent of the same family from Eskilstuna, Sweden.

In doing this, you must be ready to find they might not get your mailing, or toss your note in the garbage, while thinking, “What does it matter me what they remember.” or “I wonder what they want?” And so, after you’ve sent your note, forget about it, because, just maybe, no one does care.

But just the same, take a chance. You don’t need to be “a writer”, but just tell them you knew their loved one long ago, and would like to share those times. And, if they want to talk to you, they can just send a card, or make a phone call. And, if they don’t respond, what the heck, you did what you thought might be welcome, and if not, it doesn’t matter to you. You tried, and that’s how life goes.

But this time a letter came back to me that was filled with joy and delight.

Yes, I told a lot of stuff that only one of my generation and family could have known. Let them ask, be careful about what you say, and fill in any blanks you know. Or add happy happenings. It’s always different and always wonderful.

My today’s story ended up by finding that we had come from the same family somewhere ‘back then’. and she was avid to go further.

I had also sent my words to a couple of younger ones of my family, and nephew Jim, wrote back that he had always wondered where and why the town of Santaquin had entered into our family. and there in but a sentence or two, I had spelled it out for the young ones of my family..

Now, if you know me, you also know that I am not the one that was then needed, but, I knew who to call, and within a week the unfamiliar word ‘extraction’, came along, and then emails and copies of names, names. and names went back and forth and I was happy to think I had helped make their joy.

See, there are treasures buried in those daily obits. Look them over and then dare to take a chance. Be kind, be careful, but dare to send a note, a phone call and maybe bring joy to both ends of the exchange, knowing that these happenings aren’t just for one, but for all. God works in mysterious ways, you know, including using such odd ones as Ethel. Oh me.

Try it out, you have the time, and even if it takes weeks before a ‘familiar’ name appears, one day, wham, bang, a name of decades ago is there, and off you go.  You just might bring a bit of joy to a sorrowing heart and when it does, it’s great.

I tell of just one note I sent that helped fill a few blanks in a genealogy file that might never have been completed otherwise. Take a chance, it’s just one of the joys that can come to us in our older years. And. just maybe, that’s the only reason we’re still around.

2 thoughts on “Reading The Obits

  1. Aunt Ethel, I loved reading this. I read the Deseret News obits, and sometimes see classmates, other times see people I knew as a child. I have started going to the guestbook on the mortuary page and writing a short note with memories, signing with my maiden name included. I’ve never heard back, but felt good about sharing. Guess we are kindred spirits in this way, also. Fun knowing about the picture that looking like Grandpa! Love you!

  2. Thanx Sylvia, I’ve used the Guest book also, and thanx for reminding me, Wonderful and quick way to reach out to others. I suppose I shall use both, but thanx for reminding me of ‘today’s’ way of telling people ‘we remember’. You are wonderful. ur ant e.b.

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