Working on Saturday I’m the only reporter here and there are 10 obituaries, plus crime reports to type and a fire to look into and one funeral director can’t stay on top of deadlines and by the time deadline comes and goes, I’m so tired.
I don’t remember the obituaries. Typing that fast there isn’t time to remember the details, just make sure everything’s right and go.
But on Monday a copy editor is reading a new crop of obituaries and stops to read off a membership list and hobbies.
He was a member of the National Carousel Association — we didn’t know there was such a thing — and
had researched his family’s history all the way back to the to the 1400s.
And now it’s too late but we wish we knew some of this before; he sounds like a story. What do you do in a carousel association? And why such dedication to keep researching back and back and back?
“Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives,” wrote Charles Wheelan in the Wall Street Journal.
I read those words yesterday, and remembered the obituary we stopped to hear about. So many obituaries are plodding, listing memberships and jobs and accomplishments that look flat when boiled down to two sentences.
Loved her family. Missed by his dog, Kitty. Known for woodworking. Vietnam vet.
But between the lines there are stories. And in those stories are lives worth learning from.